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World Cup Games To Watch: Where's The Decisive Action This Weekend?

There are literally dozens of international games taking place across the world this weekend, from Argentina to Bahrain to Croatia and beyond.

For many countries, there is nothing left to play for but pride. They may have already qualified, as is the case with Brazil, or have been eliminated, like Peru.

Those seeking the true action this weekend, then, may wish to stick to those games where there is something massive at stake. Certain teams can secure qualification, others need a win to keep their faint hopes alive. Let's look at the key games to watch this weekend...

AFRICA

Cameroon - Togo (Group A)
14:30 CET, Saturday October 10

Cameroon can all but secure qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a win over their near-neighbours, Togo. Such a victory will place them on ten points from five games, and if Gabon lose at home to Morocco they qualify automatically with a win.



Nigeria are in for a challenge
The Indomitable Lions above all, are looking for revenge: they lost 1-0 in Togo back in March thanks to an Emmanuel Adebayor strike. The Manchester City striker has a habit of popping up with a goal now and again...

Nigeria - Mozambique (Group B)
16:00 CET, Sunday October 11

It's a case of do or die for the Super Eagles. Their fate does not lie in their own hands, given that they are two points behind Tunisia with two games left, neither of them against the North Africans. With hopes already faint, it is now a fact of life that if Nigeria do not beat Mozambique, they are all but out. A draw, coupled with a win for Tunisia over Kenya, will see them eliminated. A loss would, naturally, be even more disastrous. Fans in this football-mad country regard World Cup qualification as an absolute minimum requirement, and it seems that their demands will not be met.

ASIA/OCEANIA

Bahrain - New Zealand
17:30 CET, Saturday Octoner 10

The New Zealand football authorities are already billing this game as their 'one shot at glory'. It's very self-aware of the All-Whites to recognise that for a team of their stature, World Cup qualification opportunities do not come along too often. Indeed, they haven't reached the finals since 1982, in the days of Wynton Rufer.



Bahrain can make their WC debut

Now they face Bahrain, a Middle Eastern side who have yet to attend a World Cup at all. Having already ousted the regional giants of Saudi Arabia, the Bahrainis will fancy their chances in the first leg in Manama.

EUROPE

Russia - Germany (Group 4)
17:00 CET, Saturday October 10

The Mannschaft and the Russians are unique in Europe: both have guaranteed at least a play-off path to qualification, and now face each other in the race for first place. Germany won the first game between the sides in Dortmund thanks to goals from Lukas Podolski and Michael Ballack.

But - and here is an incredible statistic - Russia have not lost a competitive game at home in almost exactly 11 years. A 3-2 Euro qualifier loss to France on the October 9, 1998 brought that defeat, and although they have lost friendlies since then, it is certainly the case that no team enjoys a trip to Moscow.

 
Probably the best referee attack in the world
Denmark - Sweden (Group 1)
20:00 CET, Saturday October 10

Scandinavian countries are famed for their neutrality and pacifism in war. So why is it that Sweden and Denmark always cause fireworks when they meet on the football pitch?

We all remember Christian Poulsen's punch and the sole Danish pitch invader who so dramatically changed the course of Euro 2008 qualification. The hosts will hope for something different this time at the Parken.

In fact, Denmark are in a superb position to qualify: a win over Sweden will do the trick. Sweden, if they win, will guarantee second spot if Portugal and Hungary draw.

Portugal - Hungary (Group 1)
21:45 CET, Saturday October 10

Indeed, Group 1 in general is on a knife-edge. Portugal are finally hitting form - at just the right time, too, as defeat at home to Hungary will all but end their hopes of qualification.

The Magyars, meanwhile, are behind the Portuguese only on goal difference, having lost to an early goal from Pepe in Budapest in the last game between the sides.

 
The wearing of the green

Ireland - Italy
21:00 CET, Saturday October 10

It's time for Trapattoni to welcome his old Azzurri charges to Croke Park, one of Europe's finest venues. In April a late goal from Robbie Keane rescued a 1-1 draw for the Republic in Italy - now, back in Dublin, the Boys in Green are going to go all-out for the win. That's because victory will keep their hopes of top spot alive, albeit with the proviso that Italy then drop points to Cyprus. Either way, the Irish can guarantee second place with a win, while the Azzurri will be all but assured of top spot even with a draw.

SOUTH AMERICA

Argentina - Peru

00:00 CET, Sunday October 11

Incredibly, Argentina could find themselves only able to qualify via the Americas play-offs if things don't go their way at home to Peru. The Albiceleste, if defeated, need Ecuador to drop points against Uruguay, otherwise the top four will pull away. On the other hand, Uruguay (and Venezuela, and Ecuador, and Colombia...) are their direct competitors for that play-off space. Whichever way you look at it, Diego Maradona's side realistically need to beat Peru, given that the Rojiblanca are the group's whipping boys, having scored just nine and conceded over 30 goals thus far.

Colombia - Chile
00:00 CET, Sunday October 11

Chile, meanwhile, have much happier news. Their fate is entirely in their own hands: win in Colombia, and they can pack their bags for South Africa 2010. Not since the days of Ivan Zamorano has a Chilean national side played with such confidence, and although Medellin

 Always a great occasion
is never an easy place to go, the fact that Chile have already won in places like Paraguay and Venezuela shows that they could well be up to the task.

For Colombia, defeat spells the end of their automatic qualification hopes, and quite possibly their play-off aspirations as well. This could be the fieriest occasion of the whole weekend...

NORTH/CENTRAL AMERICA

Honduras - USA

04:00 CET, Sunday October 11

Win, and the USA go to South Africa - it's that simple. Despite recently slipping up in Mexico City, the USA remain atop the CONCACAF group, and if they defeat their Central American hosts, they will be able to go into their final game, at home to Costa Rica, with no fear. For Honduras, a win, coupled with a defeat for Costa Rica to unfancied Trinidad and Tobago, spells qualification itself. Expect a large, hostile crowd of well over 30,000 in San Pedro Sula.

Mexican pride

Mexico - El Salvador

00:00 CET, Sunday October 11

Speaking of partisan crowds, Mexico will provide one of their own in the Azteca, where a win over El Salvador spells qualification. Javier Aguirre's side looked earlier in the campaign like missing out on the top three, but a recent resurgence - including narrow wins over the USA and Honduras - makes it three wins in a row. A fourth means qualification, as well as elimination for the Salvadorians.

Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com