KIEV. Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland will all be looking to become the first European sides to reach the promised land of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil on Tuesday.
With just three rounds of games now remaining, no fewer than 24 matches will get under way across the continent, including a number of crunch games in the race for qualification berths.
While Russia will look to return to the Group F summit against Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina are targeting revenge against Group G rivals Slovakia, and England are steeling themselves for a high-stakes trip to Ukraine in Group H.
The big game
England will go into their decisive encounter in Kiev with a much-weakened forward line, Danny Welbeck having picked up a suspension against Moldova on Friday to rule him out along with injured duo Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge.
The visitors will nonetheless be encouraged by Ukraine’s shaky home form, despite their rivals’ recent 9-0 success against San Marino, in which eight different players scored.
The eastern Europeans, who drew 1-1 at Wembley, suffered a 1-0 home loss to Montenegro but beat the same opponents 4-0 in Podgorica, leaving England hopeful of at least a draw, which would keep them a point clear of Ukraine with two home fixtures left to negotiate.
Once again, Roy Hodgson’s side will be counting on the experience of veterans Frank Lampard, who will be earning his 100th international cap and Steven Gerrard, both impressive in the 4-0 defeat of Moldova.