Teams get chance to tune up before WC
A hectic schedule of club football ahead of the World Cup is interrupted this week as national teams get a last chance to finetune their preparations before travelling to Qatar for the start of the tournament on November 20.
Extra importance is therefore placed on events over the next week, as European sides complete the UEFA Nations League group stage while other contenders play friendly matches, including back-to-back games for Brazil on French soil against Ghana and Tunisia.
Reigning world champions France are preparing to defend the crown they won in Russia in 2018 while simultaneously trying to avoid being relegated from the top tier of the Nations League. They need wins against Austria and Denmark.
Like France, England suffered a series of poor results in June and so realistically need to win both of their games against Italy and Germany to avoid relegation to League B.
Spain and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will warm up for the World Cup by meeting in Braga on September 27 in a game that could decide which of the Iberian neighbours advances to the Nations League finals next June.
Meanwhile, fresh from signing a new four-year deal, Wales manager Robert Page has named Los Angeles FC's Gareth Bale in his squad for games against Belgium and Poland.