Portugal host Sweden in the first leg of their World Cup playoff on Friday in a game that will see arguably Europe’s two deadliest front men face off.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are both in stunning form ahead of the battle in Lisbon but only one will feature in Brazil next year.
Portugal defender Pepe believes both nations stand an equal chance of progressing top the finals.
He said: ‘‘I don’t think there are favourites, they (Sweden) try to make us out as the favourites but things aren’t like that. I think 50/50 is more accurate. We have two matches and we must play well in both matches to qualify.’‘
Goals will certainly be expected on the night – Ronaldo tops the La Liga scoring charts while Ibrahimovic has also been prolific for Paris St Germain since arriving last year.
But Sweden will have to shore up their defence on the night as only Iceland conceded more goals out of all runners up in the European qualifying campaign.
The return leg takes place in Stockholm on November 19th.
In another high-profile playoff Ukraine lock horns with 1998 World Cup winners France with the first leg on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Ukraine, who finished second to England in their qualification group, will look to put their agonizing playoff history behind them after also losing out in the 1998, 2002 and 2010 playoffs.
France should be at full strength with European player of the year Franck Ribery expected to play a major role for Didier Deschamps men as they look to reach their fifth straight finals.
The only doubt is defender Raphaël Varane who is suffering from a minor knee problem.
Iceland host Croatia in Reykjavik and will hope to improve their dire defensive record from qualifying where they equaled bottom side Cyprus in leaking 15 goals.
But they are solid in front of goal hitting 17 in the group stage – thanks mainly to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
The only absentee for Iceland is defender Birkir Mar Saeversson who is suspended.
Croatia coach Niko Kovac – who was only appointed last month after the sacking of Igor Stimac – will be missing left back Ivan Strinic through injury with Danijel Pranjic is set to deputize.
Mario Mandzukic will likely to start as a lone striker as Ivica Olic continues to recover from a calf strain.
Elsewhere 2004 European champions Greece battle it out with Romania who are hunting only their third finals appearance.
Greece are in the playoffs after finishing second behind Group G winners Bosnia while Romania were runners up behind 2010 finalists the Netherlands.
Copyright © 2015 euronewsMore about:
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2eurovibes - a selection of Europe’s best music talent
- 3Exclusive: CIA and Mossad are behind Boko Haram and ISIL, says Sudan president | euronews, world news
- 4European Union News | euronews: latest breaking news and headlines about European Union
- 5Greek debt: who will pay if Greece fails? | euronews, world news
- 6English and Spanish among happiest languages | euronews, world news
- 7Dramatic dashcam video captures Taiwan plane crash | euronews, world news
- 8International news | euronews, latest international news
- 9Data ‘mocks’ claims migrants try for Europe ‘expecting’ sea rescue | euronews, world news
- 10Exclusive: Tsipras promises meritocracy, transparency for Greece, urges Europe to put people first | euronews, world news
- 11Watch: Ukraine MPs in fierce fist fight outside parliament | euronews, world news
- 12Live updates: follow the 2015 Oscars ceremony | euronews, world news
- 13euronews apps : iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, Nokia S40, Nokia Asha, Smart TV and Google Glass
- 14Kosovo emptying out, hopes for independent future exhausted | euronews, world news
- 15International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 16Dark matter, dark energy: ESA and CERN set to unravel mysteries of the cosmos | euronews, space
- 17Canada: Valentine’s Day mass shooting plot foiled say police | euronews, world news
- 18Implanted RFID chip controls office access for Stockholm workers | euronews, hi-tech
- 19International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 20Barack Obama’s silly Buzzfeed video goes viral | euronews, world news
Wires > Sport
- 13:55 CET In-form Gomez wants to continue inspiring Fiorentina
- 13:50 CET American Lewis holds one-shot lead at Thai LPGA event
- 12:15 CET India cruise to easy win over UAE in Perth
- 11:30 CET Man United missing ’20-goal striker’, says Van Gaal
- 09:22 CET Williamson six gives Kiwis one wicket victory
- 07:41 CET UAE win toss, opt to bat against India in Perth
- 05:08 CET England out to exorcise Cake Tin demons against Sri Lanka
- 04:12 CET Boca striker Gigliotti moves to China – report