Monday 16 October 2017

England's hopes in balance as Lampard hits 100

Frank Lampard will earn his 100th cap tonight for England
Frank Lampard will earn his 100th cap tonight for England

England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that midfielder Frank Lampard will win his 100th cap against Ukraine in the World Cup Group H qualifier tonight.

Lampard will play alongside two other Englishmen who have won 100 caps for their country in captain Steven Gerrard and defender Ashley Cole.

England must avoid defeat if they are to keep qualification in their own hands.

The next team, after Germany, most likely to confirm qualification is Italy who are seven points clear in Group B and host the Czech Republic in Turin, knowing a win will be enough to qualify.

Beneath Italy, just a point separates Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Denmark and dark horses Armenia, who surprisingly won in Prague on Friday.

The Netherlands, coached by Louis van Gaal, need other results to help them seal qualification tonight. But a win in Andorra would mean that, at most, only a goal-difference disaster can stop them from winning Group D.

Group E looks even – with Switzerland four points clear and just two points separating Norway, Albania, Iceland and Slovenia – but the Swiss can qualify with a win in Oslo.

The most tense groups are those where nothing can be decided tonight. In Group F, Russia can climb back above Portugal with a win over Israel, who can themselves still win the group if they win all three of their remaining games.

Bosnia, desperate to qualify for their first World Cup finals since independence, need a response in Slovakia this evening.

They looked like running away with Group G, but a 1-0 home defeat on Friday to the same opposition leaves them tied on points with Greece, despite a 15-goal superior goal difference.

Then, finally, there is Group I – the five-team oddity. France play in Belarus and if they do not win, then Spain – three points clear and playing a friendly against Chile tonight – can win the group if they beat Belarus in Majorca next month.

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