World Cup qualifying: Crucial fixtures for France, England, Turkey and Serbia

There will be a number of hotly contested games in 2018 World Cup qualifying this weekend as some top European nations look to take on step closer to Russia

Can Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane make their mark against Scotland? Photo: Harry Kane/Instagram

With World Cup qualifying set to take place in Europe this weekend, the shape of a host of tightly poised groups looks set to be determined in fixtures all over the continent.

The race to book a place at Russia 2018 is set to be a tough one, with a number of prominent European nations looking at this stage like they could miss out.

Examining the respective groups, one of the most interesting and competitive is Group I, with Croatia, Iceland, Turkey and Ukraine all fighting for top spot.

Those live betting in Turkey will expect their side to be too strong for minnows Kosovo, with only three points good enough for the pool’s fourth-placed team.

Croatia’s place as group leaders is set to be put to the test, with a tough clash against Iceland in Reykjavik potentially being decisive in the eventual qualifying teams for the World Cup.

Another tough group to predict is Group D, where Serbia are the pacesetters and host Wales this weekend.

The visitors are coming in at appealing odds of 4/1, but Chris Coleman’s side will be without Gareth Bale, who is suspended for the game.

The Republic of Ireland are equal with Serbia at the top of the standings and will look to distance themselves from Austria when the two teams meet in Dublin.

Old enemies England and Scotland are set to do battle in Glasgow, in what should be a passionate and fiery affair.

Gordon Strachan’s home side have been less-than convincing so far in the qualifying campaign and anything other than a victory is no good for Scotland, who have ground to make up.

England are top of the pool and favourites to win the game at odds of 8/11, but will have to overcome a boisterous atmosphere at Hampden.

Finally, Group A is being led by France, but Sweden are in hot pursuit and host Didier Deschamps’ star-studded side this weekend.

The Scandinavians will have to be at their best to get anything from the game, especially without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but odds of 5/1 for a Sweden win offer good value.

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