Top EPL Players in Action in Tuesday's World Cup Qualifying Matches
After an exciting round of World Cup Qualifying matches last Friday, the current international break in late March has another round of fixtures on Tuesday, March 26 as we approach the end of the qualifying rounds.
As with every international break, the English Premier League is well-represented across the world as EPL stars take to the field representing their nations.
Here are some of the top EPL players in action on Tuesday.
Shaun Maloney (UEFA Group One: Serbia vs. Scotland)
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Scotland travel to Serbia with both teams’ qualification hopes dangling by a thread: Following their losses last Friday, Scotland are bottom of Group One with two points from five games, while Serbia are only two points ahead.
Shaun Maloney has proven to be an inspired signing for Wigan Athletic since his arrival on a free transfer in the summer, and will be an important part of the Tartan Army as they look to secure a result at the hostile Karadorde Stadium.
Other EPL representatives include Latics colleagues Gary Caldwell and James McArthur; West Bromwich Albion’s Graham Dorrans; Stoke City’s Charlie Adam; and Everton’s Steven Naismith. Norwich City’s Robert Snodgrass and Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher miss out respectively due to a red card and an injury against Wales on Friday.
Gareth Bale (UEFA Group One: Wales vs. Croatia)
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Scotland’s Friday opponents, Wales—currently third in Group One with six points on the board—need a win against second-placed Croatia, who are on 13 points.
Besides the talented Gareth Bale, who is racing to be fit for the match, Wales also boast a considerable EPL presence: Swansea City’s Ben Davies and Ashley Williams; Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey; West Ham United’s James Collins; and Sunderland’s David Vaughan.
Against the likes of former Tottenham Hotspur star Luka Modric, though, Wales will have their work cut out.
Mousa Dembele, Eden Hazard (UEFA Group One: Belgium vs. Macedonia)
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The last Group One game features the Belgian Golden Generation, who deservedly top their group having scored 10 goals and conceded just one in their five games thus far.
Belgium traveled to Macedonia on Friday and recorded a clean 2-0 away win and now host the reverse fixture on Tuesday in what on paper should be a routine victory yet again for the Belgians.
In the Belgium squad are the following EPL players: Tottenham Hotspurs’ Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele; Chelsea’s Eden Hazard; Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas; Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke; Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet; Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen; West Bromwich Albion's Romelu Lukaku; and Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany.
A truly exciting crop of players.
Robin Van Persie (UEFA Group Four: Netherlands vs. Romania)
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We jump to Group Four, where Manchester United’s Robin van Persie is the Netherlands’ most high-profile EPL representative.
Following Friday’s 3-0 win over Estonia, the Dutch have a 13-win streak in World Cup qualifying matches and 15 points—the maximum on offer—in the current campaign as they host Romania on Tuesday.
Van Persie, who began the Premier League season on fire, has dipped recently for the champions-in-waiting, but found the target and recorded an assist in the Estonia match.
Other EPL representatives for the Netherlands are Swansea City’s Michel Vorm and Jonathan De Guzman; and Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar.
Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard (UEFA Group Eight: Montenegro vs. England)
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Ahead of the top-of-Group-Eight crunch tie between table-toppers Montenegro and second-placed England, the Three Lions boast a 20-2 record across 5 games, helped in large part by their easy 8-0 win over San Marino on Friday.
With all of Roy Hodgson’s men hailing from the Premier League, the spotlight, besides focusing on Rio Ferdinand’s absence, shines on Wayne Rooney, whose infamous red card two years ago cost him the opening two games of Euro 2012.
Frank Lampard, fresh from scoring a goal on Friday and nearing the 100-cap mark, will likely provide more goal threat from midfield and look to translate his form for Chelsea to Montenegro. Likewise Steven Gerrard, whose presence was hardly missed against San Marino but will surely take to the field as England captain.
Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla (UEFA Group Nine: France vs. Spain)
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Tuesday sees another top-of-the-table clash in Group Nine as European heavyweights Spain, currently second with eight points, travel to resurgent group leader France with 10 in four games.
Olivier Giroud, who scored in Friday’s 3-0 over Georgia, leads the France attack, with Didier Deschamps’ side full of EPL representatives: Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris; City’s Gael Clichy; United’s Patrice Evra; Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko; and Queens Park Rangers’ Loic Remy.
It’s been a less-smooth campaign for Spain, who nevertheless will go top if they win in France. Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal; City’s David Silva and Javi Garcia; Liverpool’s Pepe Reina; United’s David De Gea; and Chelsea’s Juan Mata make up the EPL contingent for Vicente Del Bosque.
Pablo Zabaleta (CONMEBOL: Bolivia vs. Argentina)
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With Sergio Aguero missing the upcoming Bolivia match due to injury and Carlos Tevez failing to make the squad, City's Pablo Zabaleta is the only representative from English football in the match.
Argentina will of course not look back on this fixture with fondness: Their last visit to Bolivia, in 2009, ended in a humiliating 1-6 defeat as the Argentines failed to cope with the altitude and were overrun.
Not that another defeat would have significant repercussions, though: Argentina currently top the CONMEBOL table with 23 points from 10 games. Their nearest challengers Colombia have 19 from nine.
Luis Suarez, Gaston Ramirez (CONMEBOL: Chile vs. Uruguay)
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Also in South America, Chile take on Uruguay—who are in fourth with 13 points from 10 games—in a clash between two of the most exciting underdogs in the region.
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez feature for the Uruguayans as two important dangermen as they look to shorten the distance from third-placed Ecuador, who are four points ahead with 17 and a game in hand.
Chile are right on Uruguay’s heels with 12.
Javier Hernandez, Clint Dempsey (CONCACAF: Mexico vs. United States)
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One of the most fiery encounters in all of international football, Mexico host the United States in an exciting match at the Estadio Azteca, with both teams currently trailing Honduras in the CONCACAF standings.
The most famous EPL names on show are Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez and Tottenham’s Clint Dempsey, but the US also has a handful of other players currently plying their trade in England’s top flight.
In the squad for this match as well as Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan, and Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea.
Shinji Kagawa (AFC: Jordan vs. Japan)
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Finally we look at Asia, where Japan travel to Jordan in a seemingly routine win for the visitors: Japan are first in the AFC Group B with 13 points, while Jordan are last with just four.
Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa is the biggest name from the Premier League to take part in Tuesday’s AFC fixtures.