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08.07.2018 13:12
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ZURICH -- Europe finally kicks off its 2018 World Cup qualifying program on Sunday, as the last of FIFAs six continents to join the road to Russia.Defending champion Germany and European champion Portugal head 54 teams -- including new FIFA members Kosovo and Gibraltar -- in European action from Sunday through Tuesday.They are competing for 13 qualifying places in world sports biggest event. Each will play 10 matches in one of the nine six-team groups over the next 14 months.Among intriguing home-and-away games ahead: Italy-Spain; France-Netherlands; and, the oldest international rivalry, England-Scotland.Who will join the 32-team lineup in Russia? Group winners and the winners of four playoffs in November 2017 involving the eight best runners-up.There are no second chances for third-place teams, unlike in the European Championship qualifying groups and final tournament groups.Here are some things to know about World Cup qualifiers in Europe:--HISTORY REPEATINGHistory is against a repeat Germany title: No European team has won back-to-back World Cups since Italy in 1934 and 1938.Still, history also says that the Germans have never failed to qualify for a major tournament.Coach Joachim Loews begins its defense against Norway in Oslo on Sunday, and without two veterans. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and forward Lukas Podolski are retiring from the national team.The group includes two other Euro 2016 teams, Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic.---NO RONALDONewly crowned European champion Portugal is without star forward Cristiano Ronaldo.Ronaldo was left out of the squad to play Switzerland in Basel as he seeks full fitness after injuring his left knee in the Euro 2016 final.Portugal landed in one of the tougher groups with three Euro 2016 teams, including Hungary. The Hungarians led Portugal three times, and Ronaldo equalized twice, in a thrilling 3-3 draw when they met in Lyon in June during the European Championship.Portugal is top-seeded but has no cause to panic if it finishes second. It advanced to the past two World Cups via playoffs.---EURO REUNIONSOf several quick rematches after Euro 2016, Italy vs. Spain on Oct. 6 in Turin is the most attractive. Italy picked apart the two-time defending European champion to win 2-0 at Stade de France in the round of 16.Slovakia vs. England, however, is a tough sell on Sunday in Trnava. It has to be better than a drab 0-0 draw in Saint-Etienne in June when Slovakia knew a point was enough to advance from the group in third place. New England coach Sam Allardyce has promised his players will have more fun on his watch.Croatia vs. Turkey on the opening weekend of Euro 2016 was lit up by Luka Modrics volleyed shot to settle the match. They meet again on Monday, with Modric now captain after Darijo Srnas retirement, though in an empty Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb.FIFA ordered Croatia to play two home qualifiers in empty stadiums as punishment for persistent incidents of racism and offensive behavior by fans.---ICELAND, HUH?Iceland fans memorable Viking clap salute wont be seen in its first two away qualifiers.The surprise Euro 2016 quarterfinalists visit Ukraine on Monday, and Kievs Olympic Stadium will be empty because of a FIFA punishment for racist fans.Iceland goes to Zagreb on Nov. 12 to face Croatia -- which will be serving its second match of a similar FIFA sanction for racism.The World Cup homecoming for Iceland -- at the 10,000-capacity Laugardalsvollur stadium in Reykjavik -- is against Finland on Oct. 6.Iceland has a tough task to become the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup.It is in Group I which seems the deepest pool of talent with four Euro 2016 teams plus Kosovo, which is likely the best of the minnows pot of No. 6 seeds.---DEBUTANTSLike all new FIFA members, Kosovo and Gibraltar -- both accepted in May and fast-tracked into 2018 qualifying -- start their international careers at the bottom of the seeding.Kosovo makes a World Cup debut at Finland on Monday, and hosts Croatia on Oct. 6. Three days later, Kosovo will play at Ukraine which does not recognize it as an independent state.Gibraltar is in perhaps the weakest group of the nine, with only top-seeded Belgium having played at Euro 2016.Gibraltar kicks off with a home game -- in Faro, Portugal, while its own stadium is being built -- against Greece on Tuesday.----Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, LuxembourgGroup B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faeroe Islands, Latvia, AndorraGroup C: Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San MarinoGroup D: Wales, Austria, Serbia, Ireland, Moldova, GeorgiaGroup E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, KazakhstanGroup F: England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, MaltaGroup G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, LiechtensteinGroup H: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus, GibraltarGroup I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland, Kosovo. Youth Mike Gesicki Jersey . Anthony Calvillo, through 20 CFL seasons, was frequently invincible and largely stoic in the heat of competition. But underneath the professional exterior he was, and is, compellingly human. Youth Jason Sanders Jersey .com) - Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer were easy first-round winners Tuesday at the Australian Open. . LUCIE, Fla. Wholesale Dolphins Jerseys . In the response filed Wednesday to the complaint by 30-year-old Alexander Bradley, attorneys say the former University of Florida player is invoking his Fifth Amendment right that protects people from incriminating themselves. Cheap Dolphins Jerseys Online . Robredo, ranked No. 16, bounced back from an upset loss to Leonardo Mayer in the second round of the Royal Guard Open in Chile last week to down Carreno Busta in 1 hour, 25 minutes. On a day filled mostly with qualifying matches, fifth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain also entered the second with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win over Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, while Guido Pella of Argentina defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-6 (6), 6-4 to advance. The New York Mets have signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes?to a four-year deal, the team announced Wednesday.Yoenis is a dynamic player who can beat you in many ways, Mets manager Terry Collins said in a statement. Its a great holiday present for the Mets to know hell be in the middle of our lineup. He makes everyone around him better.Sources told ESPN that the deal is worth $110 million and includes a full no-trade clause. Cespedes will make $22.5 million in 2017, $29 million in 2018 and 2019 and $29.5 million in 2020. A news conference has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.Its the top average annual value ever for an outfielder and ties the top AAV ever for a free-agent position player. Its the second-highest AAV for any position player behind Detroits?Miguel Cabrera.Cespedes, 31, hit .280 and led the Mets with 31 home runs and 86 RBIs last season. He had received a three-year, $75 million deal from the Mets last offseason. That agreement gave him the right tto opt out after collecting $27.dddddddddddd5 million in 2016.Including last seasons haul, as well as a $100,000 bonus, his total deal with the Mets weighs in at $137.6 million over five seasons.Since his debut with the Mets on Aug. 1, 2015, they went 106-74 with Cespedes in the starting lineup and 18-23 when he was not. The Mets have averaged 4.6 runs with him in the lineup compared to 4.0 runs without him.Cespedes was selected as an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2016, although he was unable to participate in the game because of a right quadriceps injury that lingered during the seasons second half. He nonetheless reached the 30-homer plateau for the second time in his career, falling just shy of the combined 35 long balls he hit with the Tigers and Mets in 2015.ESPN Mets reporter Adam Rubin contributed to this report. Youth NFL Jerseys Cheap Cheap Jerseys Online China Jerseys Wholesale Cheap NFL Hoodies Wholesale NFL T-shirts Stitched Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2020 ' ' '

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