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World Cup qualifying

Fifteen FCB stars on international duty

On Monday, Germany coach Joachim Löw gathered his squad in Düsseldorf to begin preparations for the forthcoming final round of World Cup qualifiers. Seven FCB men were there, namely Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Jérôme Boateng and Mario Götze. A victory against Ireland in Cologne on Friday would see the three-time world champions safely through to next summer's finals in Brazil. Löw and his men complete their group stage schedule away to Sweden in Stockholm next Tuesday.

Eight of the club’s non-German players are also representing their countries this week. UEFA Best Player in Europe Franck Ribéry and France play a friendly against Australia on Friday evening, before the serious business of a qualifier at home to Finland on 15 October. The French must win to keep alive their slim hopes of a direct qualifying spot, as they are currently second in Group I, level on points with Spain. However, the world and European champions have a game in hand and are favourites to top the group.

Do or die for Alaba and Austria

There are no remaining concerns for Arjen Robben and the Dutch, who have already booked their ticket to Brazil with 22 points from eight Group D matches. Hungary, Turkey and Romania are battling for the runners-up spot, with the Netherlands entertaining the Hungarians on Friday and travelling to Turkey next Tuesday.

For Austria and David Alaba, it's make or break time on Friday in the match away to Sweden. In Germany's Group C, Austria lie third, eight points behind their neighbours but only three adrift of Sweden. In Tuesday's final round of matches, David and Co travel to the Faroes, and will be hoping the Germans come to their aid away to Sweden.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Switzerland are in a less precarious position, as the Swiss top Group E by five points from Iceland and six from Slovenia. Victory away to last-placed Albania on Friday would take Ottmar Hitzfeld's team to Brazil. The Swiss complete their qualifying programme at home to Slovenia next Tuesday.

Dante in Asia

Croatia and top striker Mario Mandzukic will probably have to settle for the play-off place, as the East Europeans are currently five points adrift of Belgium and Daniel van Buyten. However, the Croats can stay in the race for top spot if they beat the Belgians on Friday evening. Mandzukic and company visit Scotland on the last day, with Daniel and the Red Devils at home to Wales.

In South American qualifying, Claudio Pizarro and Peru are out of the race for berths in Brazil next summer and are playing only for pride in this round of matches. Pizza leads his men in the prestige clash away to Argentina on Friday, before a final fixture against Bolivia next Tuesday night.

In non-qualifying action, Dante has again been called up by Brazil and will travel to Asia for a friendly against South Korea in Seoul on Saturday, and a meeting with Zambia in Beijing on Tuesday. Both Dante and Pizarro are not expected back in Munich until Wednesday night next week, and will rejoin squad training on Thursday.