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International preview: Big Villa presence in World Cup qualifiers
Villans playing for their respective countries.
5th Sep 2013
International preview: Big Villa presence in World Cup qualifiers


By Jonathan Davies

Christian Benteke will be hoping to continue his bright start to the season when Belgium face Alan Hutton's Scotland at Hampden Park on Friday night.

Benteke is one of nine Villa players receiving full international call-ups ahead of this week's World Cup qualifiers - and is looking to add to his three Barclays Premier League goals so far.

He netted in the reverse Group A fixture back in October 2012 and will want to compound more misery on Hutton's side.

The Scots will also be in action again next Tuesday when they take on bottom-side Macedonia in Skopje, who currently trail them by a single point.

Belgium are top of Group A with 19 points from seven games. Scotland are fifth out of six teams with five points from seven games.

In Group B, newboys Libor Kozak and Aleksandar Tonev will be going neck-and-neck for Czech Republic and Bulgaria respectively.

Deadline-day signing Kozak will be hoping to add to his tally after opening his account against Hungary last month, as the Czechs entertain Armenia in Prague on Friday before taking on the Italians in Turin next Tuesday.

Tonev's Bulgarian side will travel to Palermo to face Cesare Prandelli's Azzurri on Friday, while Tuesday will see them make the short trip to play Malta in Ta'Qali.

Also in Group B,  Jores Okore is with Denmark for their matches against Malta and Armenia in Ta'Qali and Yerevan respectively on Friday and next Tuesday.

Bulgaria are second in Group B with 10 points from six games. Italy are top with 14 points from six games. Czech Republic are third with nine points from six games while Denmark are fifth out of six teams with six points from six games.

Ciaran Clark and Andreas Weimann will also go head-to-head next Tuesday when the Republic of Ireland travel to Austria for the match in Vienna.

The Group C contest at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion could prove vital as the battle for second place intensifies.

Before that Clark's side are up against fellow contenders Sweden at the Aviva Stadium on Friday, while Weimann's team-mates will do battle with top-of-the-table Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Austria and Republic of Ireland are joint second in Group C, with 11 points from six games. Germany are at the summit with 16 points from six matches.

Skipper Ron Vlaar is in the Netherlands squad that travels to Estonia and Andorra.

The Dutch can secure qualification and become the first European nation through to next summer's finals if they win both Group D games, played in Tallinn and Andorra La Vella.

Holland are top of Group D, with 18 points from six games.

In the Europe section of World Cup qualifying, the top team in each group progresses to the finals. The second placed side from each group will contest round two of qualifying. The teams will be paired into four home-and-away ties. The matches will likely be played between November 15 and 19, 2013 and the winners also make it through to Brazil.

Brad Guzan is with USA as they face Costa Rica in San Jose in the early hours of Saturday morning and Mexico in Columbus in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

USA are currently competing in the North, Central America and Caribbean region's traditional 'hexagonal' stage.

Six teams meet in a home-and-away format between February 6 and October 15, 2013 with the top three sides qualifying directly for the tournament in Brazil.

USA are top with 13 points from six games.

Friday September 6

Europe Group A

Christian Benteke - Scotland v BELGIUM - Glasgow - KO 8pm
Alan Hutton - SCOTLAND v Belgium - Glasgow - KO 8pm

Europe Group B

Jores Okore - Malta v DENMARK - Ta'Qali - KO 7pm
Aleksandar Tonev - Italy v BULGARIA - Palermo - KO 7.45pm
Libor Kozak - CZECH REPUBLIC v Armenia - Prague - KO 5pm

Europe Group C

Andreas Weimann - Germany v AUSTRIA - Munich - KO 7.45pm
Ciaran Clark - REPUBLIC OF IRELAND v Sweden - Dublin - KO 7.45pm

Europe Group D

Ron Vlaar - Estonia v HOLLAND - Tallinn - KO 7.30pm

Saturday September 7

North, Central America and Caribbean Group

Brad Guzan - Costa Rica v USA - San Jose - 3am

Tuesday September 10

Europe Group A

Alan Hutton - Macedonia v SCOTLAND - Skopje - KO 7.30pm

Europe Group B

Jores Okore - Armenia v DENMARK - Yerevan - KO 5pm 
Aleksandar Tonev - Malta v BULGARIA - Ta'Qali - KO 7pm
Libor Kozak - Italy v CZECH REPUBLIC - Turin - KO 7.45pm

Europe Group C

Andreas Weimann - AUSTRIA v Republic of Ireland - Vienna - KO 7.45pm
Ciaran Clark - Austria v REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Vienna - KO 7.45pm

Europe Group D

Ron Vlaar - Andorra v HOLLAND - Andorra La Vella - KO 7.30pm

Wednesday September 11

North, Central America and Caribbean Group

Brad Guzan - USA v  Mexico - 1am

Snap up match tickets for Newcastle.

 

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