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It's been a while since November when there was whole scale qualifying for the World Cup in Russia. That said, the tension is set to be ratcheted up once again this week for teams all over the world in a week that should provide a tremendous number of dream-altering affairs.
Argentina vs. Chile – Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET ( beIN Sports )
There are a lot of big matches in CONMEBOL qualifying for the World Cup this week, but Argentina hosting Chile is probably the biggest of the bunch. Sure, Brazil and Uruguay is big, but those two teams are on the path to the World Cup no matter what happens in that match. Argentina is sitting on 19 points and is in the inter-confederation playoff spot with six matches to go in qualifying. Chile meanwhile, is fourth best and the last to be in a safe spot. That said, the Chileans are far from actually safe. They're probably going to lose this match, and if they do, they could be kicked clear out of the World Cup at the time with Colombia facing a bad Bolivia team and likely to get three points.
Mexico vs. Costa Rica – Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET ( FOX Sports 1 )
Mexico and Costa Rica are probably able to coast from here to reach the World Cup. Panama and Honduras probably don't have great staying power with El Tri and Los Ticos, and the United States is four points back of the Mexicans and six back of Costa Rica having already played one match against both of them. That said, if there's a winner of this match at Estadio Azteca, that team is going to have a tremendous edge on the rest of the pack when it comes to a group where three teams out of six will automatically qualify for the World Cup and a fourth will get a chance to play in a playoff to get to Russia.
USA vs. Honduras – Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET ( FOX Sports 1 )
The Yanks don't have a single point from their first two matches in the Hex in CONCACAF, and if they don't ultimately get anything from this match against Honduras, they're going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble. Failures here in qualifying as well as in the Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico are what prompted Jurgen Klinsmann's dismissal, and now, it's back to an old boss, Bruce Arena, to get the USMNT to the World Cup. San Jose isn't known as the best home for the Americans in terms of a home field advantage, but this isn't as much about home field advantage and is instead more about a superior team figuring out how to put aside a minnow when it really has to.
Montenegro vs. Poland – Sunday, 3:45 p.m. ET ( FOX Sports 2 )
Are Montenegro and Poland really threats to win the World Cup? Surely not. But Group E is the widest open group in all of UEFA qualifying, and not only is there a real shot for a team to reach the European playoff, but there are four teams who legitimately could still win this group. Poland has the driver's seat right now with 10 points, and Robert Lewandowski is clearly the best player in the group. But this match at Montenegro might be the toughest of the bunch. The Montenegrins have never played in a major tournament, as close as they've come in the past, and this is their best shot to claim the necessary points to get as close to the World Cup as they've ever been. This is the biggest match in the history of Montenegro soccer, and winning this fixture would send it to the top of Group E with five matches left to play.
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