5 Storylines and Issues to Watch in Friday's World Cup Qualifiers

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2013

5 Storylines and Issues to Watch in Friday's World Cup Qualifiers

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    After a frantic transfer deadline day and enthralling opening month of European football, we head to an international break to sort out those pesky FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

    If your team is already nailed on to reach Brazil in 2014, or similarly doomed to failure, which storylines and issues should you be keeping an eye on?

    We've picked out five for you to check out.  

England: Youth Influx, Lack of Strikers

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    Roy Hodgson called up what you might label an "alternative" England squad for key clashes against Moldova and Ukraine, with youth and inexperience a big feature.

    With Wayne Rooney out of the team due to a head injury and the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshere sitting out of training, we could be in for a largely new-look first XI.

    The Moldova game shouldn't be tricky, and if an early lead is taken, it's the ideal chance to debut the likes of Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend. The Ukraine fixture, however, is a veritable headache.

    How will Hodgson adjust his squad and line up his troops? 

Colombia: Key Clashes Without Radamel Falcao?

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    FIFA have confirmed on their official website that Radamel Falcao has joined up with the Colombian national team despite nursing an ankle injury.

    He's flown to South America to be examined by Los Cafeteros' doctors and probably won't be cleared to play, meaning Jose Pekerman's side face crunch clashes without their star man.

    However, the truth is, Colombia have rarely—if ever—been deeper at the forward position. For the game against Ecuador, they have Jackson Martinez and Luis Muriel to call upon.

    With both teams sitting in second and third place in the CONMEBOL respectively, it's a top-tier clash. The hosts can move to the summit of the group should they record a three-point haul.  

The Battle for 4th in the CONMEBOL

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    Two key games occur on Friday as the battle for fourth in the South American qualifying region reaches its climax.

    Uruguay will travel to Lima to take on Peru, knowing a victory is the absolute minimum they can come away with if they still harbour hopes of qualifying via the top four spots on the CONMEBOL group.

    Should they fail to glean three points from the fixture, and should Chile dispatch Venezuela at home, it will start to look very likely Oscar Tabarez's men will be facing a playoff, at best, to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Topsy-Turvy End to the CONCACAF Qualifying

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    First takes on second and third takes on fourth as the CONCACAF qualifying region also nears a thrilling conclusion.

    The U.S. national team can move five points clear of their nearest challengers with a victory over Costa Rica in San Jose, but if they fail and Mexico beat Honduras, Jurgen Klinsmann's men may well be looking over their shoulders.

    It's got the potential to become rather tight up there, and any slip-ups could be extremely costly. 

Could France or Spain Do the Unthinkable?

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    France and Spain are both vying for top spot in Europe's Group I, sitting on 10 and 11 points respectively.

    Both sides face extremely easy fixtures on paper, but with every game being a must-win scenario, could the pressure prove too much for one of them?

    It wouldn't be the first time one has faltered.

    Spain drew with Finland, their opponents on Friday, at home earlier on in the process. Meanwhile, Les Bleus face a taxing trip to Georgia.

    Keep your eyes peeled for an upset, folks!