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The second half of the October international break is upon us, as Die Nationalelf looks to keep the winning streak alive. Germany is a perfect 3 for 3, but faces perhaps the toughest test of the qualifying campaign so far. Elsewhere, Spain faces France and Romania takes on Netherlands.
Good evening. I assume everyone else is as bored with the international break as I am, but let's get through one more round and we're back to club play. You can check our group-by-group rundown here. A quick preview of Bayern players in action tomorrow, plus a few other interesting matches, starting with the obvious ...
GERMANY VS. SWEDEN
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is clearly the biggest threat for Sweden. The big striker has 34 career international goals, knows how to track down the ball, and moves very well for a tall guy. He will certainly test the German back line more than anything Ireland did, although Sweden ran into trouble in the recent Euro 2012 tournament despite Zlatan's presence. He can get isolated up top, especially because Sweden's midfield isn't usually good enough to control the ball and generate a sustained build-up.
After him, Sweden has a bunch of question marks. Markus Rosenberg used to be their slot-man / "I'll score if you put 3 guys on Zlatan" weapon. He's not on the roster. Mathias Ranegie, Marcus Berg, and Christian Wilhelmsson are the other guys you might expect to do something dangerous if you give them space, with young Fulham man Alexander Kačaniklić also a threat (he got on the board in their recent win). None of them sound very threatening, but Sweden will need to be something more than a one-man gang if they want to really threaten in an international tournament.
For Germany, Philipp Lahm is back, and gave an interview in which he noted the danger posed by Sweden. Hummels is still out, so Badstuber + Mertesacker will probably be the CB combination. On the other end of the field, Klose is closing in on Der Bomber's all time goals record. He will certainly get a chance against a Sweden defense that is decent, but not known for shutting down good attacks.
SPAIN VS. FRANCE
Ribery and Javi Martinez are both on the rosters, though Javi might be on the bench at the start of the match. This is a huge game, with the winner taking the inside track at the one automatic spot from Group I. Kicks off 15 minutes later than the Germany game, so when the one is over, switch to the next and hopefully catch a good finish.
UKRAINE VS. MONTENEGRO
Tymochuk's boys get a home game after 2 straight on the road (both of which were draws). A win for Ukraine might put them temporarily in one of this group's top 2 spots, depending upon the result of ...
POLAND VS. ENGLAND
No Bayern connection, but this could be an interesting match. 'Dowski will play, but Kuba is out for Poland. If England wins in Warsaw, despite a Polish team that's well-rested and has the home-field advantage, they probably have a strangle-hold on the group.
ROMANIA vs. NETHERLANDS
Arjen Robben is out, but this is still an interesting match. These two are both undefeated in qualifying play so far, and this could end up going either way. Netherlands are fresh off a terrible performance at the Euros, but have looked good so far and definitely have the depth and talent. Romania might not have the same pedigree, but they are coming off a solid win over Turkey and will have the home crowd behind them.
AUSTRIA VS. KAZAKHSTAN
In a rematch of a few days ago - this one from Vienna. If Austria can't get a him here, they have problems that go deeper than anyone realized.
Consider this your Match Day Thread. I'll be back on the horse for real by Thursday.