The road to Qatar 2022 for European nations begins on Wednesday as a series of World Cup Qualifiers take place, with France, Portugal and Netherlands in action.
Five FIFA World Cup European Qualifying groups get under way on Wednesday afternoon as countries start their long journey to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and we begin our extensive coverage with Turkey’s Group G clash at home to the Netherlands.
Then, on Wednesday night, European champions Portugal host Azerbaijan, holders France entertain Ukraine, Finland face Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia travel to Slovenia.
These are just some of the international fixtures on offer on Sky Sports, however, all of Wednesday’s World Cup European Qualifiers are being shown live on either Sky Sports Football, Main Event, Premier League or on the red button.
And not only that, but you can also watch in-game clips and free match highlights on Sky Sports’ digital platforms via our dedicated live blog, so there is plenty to look forward to, including these fixtures:
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Group A: Can Ronaldo add to his century of goals?
Portugal vs Azerbaijan – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
The current European champions will be strong favourites to win a section that also includes Serbia, Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg, starting with this opener against Azerbaijan at the Juventus Stadium.
At least that means star man and captain Cristiano Ronaldo will not have to travel far for the game as the Juventus forward looks to get his hands on the one trophy that has eluded him so far in his glittering career.
And it would be a major surprise if the 36-year-old does not manage to add to his current record-breaking total of 102 goals in just 170 internationals in Turin on Wednesday.
Group D: Who can stop Les Bleus and Mbappe?
France vs Ukraine – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7.30pm
Finland vs Bosnia – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
France kick off the defence of the World Cup they won so impressively in Russia three years ago by hosting Ukraine at the Stade de France, a side they thrashed 7-1 in Paris when they met in a friendly back in October.
However, as their recent progress to the UEFA Nations League semi-finals showed – including eliminating the holders Portugal – Didier Deschamps’s team may be even stronger now than the class of 2018.
All of which makes their opening clash with Ukraine in the French capital so intriguing – will Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe continue to terrorise defences, especially in Paris, to help get Les Bleus’ title defence off to a winning start?
Or can Andriy Shevchenko’s team cause an upset in a group – that also contains Finland, Bosnia and Kazakhstan – everyone expects France to win comfortably?
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Group G: Time for Netherlands to stand up and be counted
Turkey vs Netherlands – 5.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football from 5pm
Gibraltar vs Norway – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
Latvia vs Montenegro – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
This is a huge qualifying campaign for the Dutch after they disastrously failed to progress to the 2018 World Cup, making this Group G opener against Turkey at the Ataturk Olimpiyat on Wednesday afternoon so vital for new head coach Frank de Boer.
De Boer took over from Ronald Koeman last September, but after a difficult start to his tenure – the former Ajax and Barcelona defender became the first-ever Netherlands manager to fail to win any of his first four fixtures – the Oranje head to Istanbul on the back of two straight Nations League victories.
So confidence should be up for the trip to the Turkish capital and given that the other nations in Group G are Gibraltar, Norway, Latvia and Montenegro – who are all also in action on Wednesday evening – top spot is likely to be decided between these two sides.
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