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What to watch for in Thursday’s World Cup qualifiers

Italy’s attacking options
Graziano Pellè and Éder formed the attack when the Azzurri defeated Spain 2-0 at UEFA EURO 2016, and they could be paired again as the sides meet in Turin. But they face stiff competition from Lazio’s Ciro Immobile and Torino’s Andrea Belotti, scorers of four and five goals respectively in Serie A this term. “In one of the two games they will play together up front,” confirms Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, who coached both strikers at Torino. Will that come against Spain or three days later away to FYR Macedonia?
Italy v Spain, 20:45CEST

Highlights: Spain 8-0 LiechtensteinHighlights: Spain 8-0 Liechtenstein

Other matches in Group G
FYR Macedonia v Israel, 20:45CEST
Liechtenstein v Albania, 20:45CEST

Can Finland beat Iceland at their own game?
Finland boss Hans Backe says Iceland’s UEFA EURO 2016 success is a source of inspiration for all the Nordic countries. “They showed that it is possible to do something special if you do things the right way,” he told FIFA.com this week. His team didn’t quite get it right last time out, drawing with newcomers Kosovo, and they will have to be nigh on perfect to win in Reykjavik – Iceland haven’t lost a competitive game there since June 2013.
Iceland v Finland, 20:45CEST

Other matches in Group I
Turkey v Ukraine, 20:45CEST
Kosovo v Croatia, 20:45CEST

Highlights: Wales 4-0 MoldovaHighlights: Wales 4-0 Moldova

Austria back into their groove
Expectation was high in Austria going into UEFA EURO 2016. Only England bettered their haul of 28 points from a possible 30 in qualifying and, with the likes of Marko Arnautović and David Alaba, progress from a group containing Portugal, Iceland and Hungary looked very attainable – who knew? While Austria bowed out early, Wales, unburdened by expectations, stormed all the way to the last four. Thursday’s meeting in Vienna between the group frontrunners is a chance for Austria to reassert themselves.
Austria v Wales, 20:45CEST

Other matches in Group D
Republic of Ireland v Georgia, 20:45CEST
Moldova v Serbia, 20:45CEST