A “summit” between the Netherlands and Turkey, and an easy test for the French


France will start the campaign to defend the World Cup 2018 in football when it receives Ukraine today, Wednesday (21:45 Beirut time), in the first round of the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The French team, qualified to the semi-finals of the European Nations League, appears at the expense of Strong Portugal, a candidate to overtake Ukraine with its arsenal of stars, which is led by PSG striker Kylian Mbappe.But the atmosphere of the French camp deteriorated last Tuesday, after the discovery of Corona virus infections in a hotel inhabited by the players on the outskirts of the capital, Paris, according to the local union. Like all teams participating in the continental qualifiers, France entered a health bubble within a strict protocol to avoid the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, Ukraine strengthened its squad after the crushing loss to France (1-7), according to its coach Andrei Shevchenko. “We strengthened our team,” said the former international scorer, before the scheduled match at the “Stade de France” in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis. The players want to prove their abilities and I am sure they want to provide the best. ”
As for Manchester City full-back Alexander Zinstenko, who was absent from the last match in Ukraine due to many injuries in Corona, he said: “I followed the previous match on TV. “I saw our mistakes. We can learn lessons not to commit them again.”
Regarding the return of 23-year-old Barcelona striker Othman Dembele to the French national team, Shevchenko said: “I prefer not to score! This is a very talented young player, he must be more patient at the moment of implementation. ”
Shevchenko considered France a “balanced team” with a lot of solutions “for my friend (coach Didier) Deschamps.”
As France plays three games in eight days, Deschamps said: “We are in the first match against Ukraine, and it is a direct opponent. A very good team and we are focused without thinking about the second or third games.
Also in Group D, Finland plays Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Kazakhstan is resting in this round.
The ten group leaders qualify for the World Cup, in addition to three other teams, through a decisive round.
For its part, Belgium, the third in the 2018 World Cup and qualifying for the Nations League semi-finals, will start its fifth difficult group when it receives Wells and its star Gareth Bale. The opportunity will be available for Belgium’s Red Devils to take revenge on Wales, who knocked them out of the European Cup 2016 quarter-finals.
Belgium breathed a sigh of relief after allowing its bulldozer striker Romelu Lukaku to participate, after he was initially refused release from Serie A leaders Inter Milan, due to positive cases in Corona within its ranks.
Lukaku is the center of gravity in the Belgium attack, in light of the decline in the level of Michi Batshuayi and Christian Benteke, who are playing alternative roles with the English Crystal Palace. The former Chelsea and Manchester United player has scored 25 goals and 7 assists in various competitions this season with Inter. “I’m living my forehead,” said the 27-year-old striker, who scored 54 goals in 85 international matches. Thanks to coach Antonio Conte, I have improved a lot, both technically and tactically. ” Estonia plays in the same group with the Czech Republic, while Belarus relaxes.
After their solutions behind Italy in the Nations League, the Netherlands, absent from the 2018 World Cup, will start its journey in its Group Seven with a strong confrontation against its host Turkey. Their previous confrontations are somewhat equal, as Turkey won 3 times, drawn 4 times and Netherlands won 5 times. Latvia plays Montenegro, and Gibraltar plays Norway in the same group.
Portugal, European champion 2016, is facing an easy confrontation on paper against its guest Azerbaijan in Group A, after defeating them 5 times and tied once in 6 confrontations in which Azerbaijan scored an orphan goal.
Serbia plays in the same group with Ireland, while Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, is playing in the group without counting the points of its matches, and faces Luxembourg in Hungary.
In Group H, Croatia, the last World Cup runner-up, is the guest of its neighbor, Slovenia, which has not been defeated in 9 matches (6 wins and 3 draws), while Russia plays with its host Malta, and Cyprus receives Slovakia.

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