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Group F _ Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will be pushed into the playoffs if group leader Russia beats Luxembourg and Azerbaijan away, as expected, in its final two games. Portugal is a point behind in second and will look for home wins over Israel and Luxembourg to keep the pressure on Russia.

Group G _ Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece are tied on 19 points. The Bosnians are easily ahead on goal difference, so beating Lithuania and Liechtenstein should see them finish top. Greece, the 2004 European champion, closes with home matches against Slovakia and Liechtenstein.

Group H _ The tightest of all the nine groups looks set to go to the wire, with the top four separated by three points and all playing each other in the final qualifiers. England leads by one point and has home games against Montenegro and Poland, who are both still in contention for first place. Ukraine, which is second with the same points as Montenegro, plays Poland on Friday and San Marino away on Tuesday.

Group I _ World and European champion Spain is level on points with France, but has a game in hand, so will automatically qualify by beating Belarus and Georgia at home in its final games. France is already resigned to finishing second ahead of its final qualifier at home to Finland.



Two-time champion Argentina has already wrapped up one of four automatic qualifying spots. Three more are up for grabs with Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay in the mix. Venezuela has only a mathematical chance.

A fifth team can also advance by winning a playoff against Jordan, which came through an Asian playoff against Uzbekistan.

Argentina leads with 29 points followed by Colombia (26), Chile (24), and Ecuador and Uruguay with 22. Venezuela has 19 but has only one game remaining. The top five have two to play.

Colombia has been chasing Argentina throughout qualification and will advance with a draw on Friday at home against Chile, which can progress with a victory.

Brazil gets the automatic berth as the host nation.



The United States has already qualified for its seventh straight World Cup and Costa Rica has made it after missing out on 2010. Honduras is in third, the final automatic berth, with 11 points and Panama and Mexico have eight apiece, with the Panamanians ahead on goal difference for fourth place _ which earns a playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand. Panama is trying for its first World Cup appearance.

Mexico, under new coach Victor Manuel Vucetich, hosts Panama on Friday at Estadio Azteca, where Mexico lost last month to Honduras _ just Mexico’s second home loss in qualifying and first since 2001 against Costa Rica. Mexico has not missed out on the World Cup since 1990, when it was thrown out of qualifying for using overage players in a youth tournament, Honduras, trying to clinch its second straight berth, is at Costa Rica on Friday.

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