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Vital World Cup qualifiers

Thirteen Bayern stars on international duty

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The Bundesliga season is only four games old, but for a majority of the Bayern squad, the immediate focus now is the battle for places at next year’s World Cup in South Africa. On Saturday 5 September and Wednesday 9 September, the competition really hots up with the penultimate double round of matches. Thirteen Munich stars are set to represent their countries over the next ten days.

Klose, Gomez, Schweinsteiger and Lahm for Germany
Germany head Group 4, but Russia play their game in hand on Saturday and will move within a point of the leaders should they complete the near-formality of beating minnows Liechtenstein. The Germans play their next qualifier on Wednesday 9 September in Hanover against Azerbaijan, who they beat 2-0 in the away fixture three weeks ago. Coach Joachim Löw and his side warm up for the qualifier with a friendly against World Cup hosts South Africa in Leverkusen on Saturday.

Robben and Braafheid for the Netherlands
The Bayern pair can afford to relax on international duty this week, as the Dutch were the first European nation to book their spot at next year’s finals, with seven wins from their seven Group 9 matches so far. The men in orange are away to Scotland in Glasgow next Wednesday, but will be keen to win and avoid any accusations of distorting the competition, as the Scots and Macedonia, Norway and Iceland can all still claim second spot. On Saturday, the Dutch face Japan in Enschede in a friendly.

Olic and Pranjic for Croatia
Croatia are battling to defend second place in Group 6. A win at home to Belarus in Zagreb on Saturday is a must, before Olic and Co travel to face England at Wembley in midweek. Fabio Capello’s side, who have yet to drop points in qualifying, could even afford to lose that game and still seal first place, as the Croats are seven points behind them in second, with Ukraine three points further back from a game less.

Tymoshchuk for Ukraine
Speaking of Ukraine, new arrival Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is hoping to snatch second spot in the group from his two Croatian team-mates. A home win against Andorra in Kiev seems likely, but the trip to face Belarus in Minsk in midweek appears a much tougher proposition.