The battle for World Cup places

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The training ground at Säbener Straße won’t be very full over the next few days as 13 Bayern players are on international duty for the final two World Cup qualifiers. There’s a lot to play for, with most of the FCB internationals battling for a place at next year’s tournament in Russia. fcbayern.com rounds up who’s playing where.

In the European section, the winner of each group qualifies automatically for the finals while the runners-up will get the chance to land one of the coveted places through a two-legged play-off. At this stage, no one from Bayern is guaranteed of their place although the reigning world champions Germany are in the best position and will be looking to complete a perfect qualifying campaign in the final two games.

One more point needed

Joachim Löw’s side are five points ahead of their nearest challengers Northern Ireland in group C having not dropped a single point. A draw in their showdown with the ‘Green and White Army’ (5 October, 20:45 kick-off – all times in CEST) would secure top spot and World Cup qualification for the German squad which includes Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Jérôme Boateng, Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle. Germany then play Azerbaijan in Kaiserslautern on 8 October (20:45) in their final qualifier.

Thiago and Spain need at least one win from their last two matches in group G to be able to start planning for Russia. They’re guaranteed at least the play-off place, but Thiago and co will want to hold onto their three-point lead over Italy at the top in their games against Albania (6 October, 20:45) and Israel (9 October, 20:45).

All or nothing for Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski and his Poland team also lead their group but they only have a three-point cushion over both Montenegro and Denmark. They therefore need a win in Jerewan against Armenia (5 October, 18:00) otherwise it could be all to play for on 8 October in Warsaw when they host Montenegro (18:00). Two defeats could even see the Poles drop to third place and miss out on qualification altogether.

In group A, three Reds from two countries are contesting top spot. Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso have the best chance, with France leading the group on 17 points. ‘Les Bleus’ will be looking to defend their one-point advantage over Sweden when they take on Bulgaria (7 October, 20:45 in Sofia) and Belarus (10 October, 20:45 in Paris). At the same time, Arjen Robben and the Netherlands (13 points) face Belarus and second-placed Sweden hoping to at least reach the play-off place.

James in a good position – Vidal trembles

James is currently in third place with Colombia (26 points) in the South American qualification, which would be enough to secure their place in Russia. Peru, Argentina (both on 24 points), Chile (23) and (Paraguay 21) are still in with a shout, though. The top four in CONMEBOL qualification progress automatically, and the country that finishes fifth will get another chance in a play-off against New Zealand. With direct duels against Paraguay (6 October, 1:30) and Peru (11 October, 1:30), the Colombians will want to keep hold of their World Cup ticket.

In contrast, sixth-placed Chile need two wins and must also hope other results go their way. Their team featuring Arturo Vidal play Ecuador at home on 6 October (1:30) before their fate is decided against already qualified Brazil on 11 October (1:30.

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