Portugal seek to boost chances With Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s Portugal seek to boost chances mizikisa

The battle to secure a place at the 2018 World Cup continues in Europe Saturday, with France and Portugal looking to boost their chances.

In Group A it looks set to go down to the final round of matches, with four teams still in contention to finish top.

Group leaders France travel to Bulgaria on Saturday, holding a one-point advantage over Sweden, who host Luxembourg.

France have injury issues as they are without Layvin Kurzawa, Laurent Koscielny, Benjamin Mendy, Ousmane Dembele and Paul Pogba. They did win the reverse fixture 4-1 in October, but Bulgaria have won all four World Cup Qualifiers they have played at home in the group and still have a chance of qualifying for the World Cup as they trail France by five points.

There is also history between the two nations, as the last time France did not qualify for the World Cup was in 1994 after a late defeat to Bulgaria in qualifying.

“It’s a really important match, we have to go to Russia. It’s more than a goal, it’s a fact,” said France striker Kylian Mbappe, who wasn’t born until five years after the defeat to Bulgaria in 1993.

“We have a quality group with lots of players. There’s no one player who makes the difference. The pressure is something I love. It gets me going, it’s a source of huge pride to be able to rise to tougher and tougher challenges.”

Netherlands are in third place in the group, four points behind France, and could still qualify as they travel to Belarus on Saturday and then finish at home to Sweden.

Brighton’s Davy Propper and Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk will both be pushing for starting spots for the Netherlands.

Switzerland top the group by three points ahead of Portugal, with the two sides meeting in a potential winner-takes-all match in Lisbon on Tuesday.

Before then, Switzerland host Hungary on Saturday and Portugal go to Andorra. Switzerland are one of only two nations in Europe yet to drop a point in qualifying along with Germany.

Belgium are already secured of automatic qualification from Group H, having won seven of their eight matches. On Saturday they travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are second in the group and looking to improve their chances of qualifying for the play-offs as one of the best eight teams.

Greece could also finish second in the group as they trail Bosnia-Herzegovina by a point ahead of their trip to Cyprus.

The other game in the group sees Gibraltar, who are without a point, host Estonia.

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