The most important World Cup qualifiers of the August-September international break

World Cup qualifying is about to go from 0 to 90 in the blink of an eye. There are 103 matches between Thursday, Aug. 31 and Wednesday, Sept. 5 across six confederations. And many of those 103 – from France-Netherlands and Spain-Italy to Uzbekistan-South Korea and New Zealand-Solomon Islands – are meaningful. Very meaningful.

Below are the 33 most meaningful, with information on when and how you can watch them in the United States. And if you’d like to know why they’re meaningful, our World Cup Bubble Watch is a great place to start.

All times ET. All games on ESPN networks can also be found on WatchESPN. All games on Fox networks can also be found on Fox Sports Go. Cable subscriptions may be required.


Japan v Australia | 6:30 a.m., ESPN3 — Japan can qualify with a win. Australia would be in great shape with a draw.

South Korea v Iran | 8 a.m., ESPN3
Uganda v Egypt | 9 a.m., BeIN Sports Connect

France v Netherlands | 2:45 p.m., ESPNNews — If the Dutch lose, they risk falling six points behind both France and Sweden with only three matches to play. The 2010 finalists and 2014 semifinalists are in danger of not even qualifying.

Chile v Paraguay | 6:30 p.m., BeIN Sports

Uruguay v Argentina | 7 p.m., BeIN Sports en Español — The Uruguayans could go four points ahead of Argentina. Depending on results elsewhere, that could dump Lionel Messi and company out of fifth place and, tentatively, out of the World Cup.


Nigeria v Cameroon | 11:30 a.m., BeIN Sports Connect
Tunisia v Democratic Republic of Congo | Noon, BeIN Sports Connect

Denmark v Poland | 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 — Poland all but locks up its spot in Russia with a win. Denmark is looking to challenge the Poles atop UEFA Group E, but the gap is currently six points.

Slovakia v Slovenia | 2:45 p.m., ESPN3
Czech Republic v Germany | 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1

USA v Costa Rica | 7 p.m., ESPN — A pivotal game for the Yanks. If they win, they’re basically in the clear. If they lose, the game at Honduras four days later would become a very nervy occasion.

Mexico v Panama | 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 2 — Mexico can clinch a World Cup berth with a win and a Honduras loss or draw against Trinidad and Tobago.


Spain v Italy | 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 — Tied atop Group G, Italy and Spain square off with a chance to more or less punch a ticket to Russia. The loser will almost surely still head to the UEFA playoffs, so the stakes here aren’t as high as they are for France-Netherlands. But this is as high-profile as qualifiers get.

Ukraine v Turkey | 2:45 p.m., ESPN3 — Tied on 11 points in Group I, but tied for third place. If there’s a loser, that loser is in trouble.

Senegal v Burkina Faso | 4 p.m., BeIN Sports Connect

The Netherlands and France clash on Thursday in a qualifier that could cause one the two European powers to miss the World Cup. (Getty)
The Netherlands and France clash on Thursday in a qualifier that could cause one the two European powers to miss the World Cup. (Getty)


Netherlands v Bulgaria | Noon, ESPN3 — If the Dutch don’t get three points in France – and it’s likely they won’t – they’ll absolutely need three against a Bulgaria side that is not a pushover.

Greece v Belgium | 2:45 p.m., ESPN3 — The Greeks need an upset if they are to catch Belgium atop Group H. They sit four points back heading into the international window.


Cameroon v Nigeria | 1 p.m., BeIN Sports Connect — Every African matchup during this window is a home-and-home. Cameroon, therefore, gets two cracks at Nigeria in a span of four days, and probably has to take four points from those two matches to have a chance at qualifying ahead of the Super Eagles.

England v Slovakia | 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1 — If Slovakia can get a shock win at Wembley, England could be in trouble.

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic | 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 — A win might secure the Northern Irish a playoff place, and would bring them within one aggregate victory of a first World Cup since 1986.


Uzbekistan v South Korea | 11 a.m., ESPN3 — Winner probably goes to the World Cup.

Saudi Arabia v Japan | 1:30 p.m., ESPN3 — The Saudis probably blew their chance with a deflating loss to UAE this past Tuesday. But if Japan doesn’t beat Australia on Aug. 31, Saudi Arabia can still qualify with a win here.

Democratic Republic of Congo v Tunisia | 1:30 p.m.
Burkina Faso v Senegal | 2 p.m.
Egypt v Uganda | 2 p.m.

Ireland v Serbia | 2:45 p.m., Fox Soccer Plus — Tied atop Group D and four points clear heading into the window. The Irish, who’ll be at home, could put themselves in prime position to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002.

Iceland v Ukraine | 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 — Level with Croatia in first place in UEFA Group I, Iceland might just follow up its Euro 2016 fairy tale by qualifying for the nation’s first-ever World Cup.

Turkey v Croatia | 2:45 p.m., ESPN3 — Croatia is the most talented team in Group I, but a trip to Turkey is a tricky one. And if the Croats don’t get a result, they could be in trouble.

Colombia v Brazil | 4:30 p.m., BeIN Sports en Español — Brazil has already qualified, but will send a strong squad to Colombia. The Colombians, meanwhile, could put themselves on the brink of joining Brazil in Russia.

Honduras v USA | 5:30 p.m., BeIN Sports — The import of this game for the Americans depends heavily on their result against Costa Rica. But regardless of earlier results, it will be critical for Honduras.

Paraguay v Uruguay | 8 p.m. — On Aug. 17, Barcelona ruled Luis Suarez out for a month with an injury. On Aug. 25, Uruguay announced that Suarez would join up with its squad for World Cup qualifying. And would you really be surprised if Suarez came off the bench in Paraguay to score a winner?

Costa Rica v Mexico | 10 p.m., BeIN Sports

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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.