Club soccer pauses this weekend for the final FIFA international break of the year, making room for a number of playoff games with World Cup berths at stake. Here are some games expected to be compelling:
UEFA: Italy hasn't missed a World Cup since 1958, but if the Azzurri are to keep that streak alive they need to get past Sweden in a playoff that begins Friday (FS1, 11:30 a.m. PST) and concludes Monday (FS1, 11:45 a.m.).
"We're Italy and missing out on the World Cup is not an option," Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci said.
Sweden last played in a World Cup in 2006. In between, on Sunday, Switzerland and Northern Ireland will conclude their playoff (ESPN Deportes, 9 a.m.) as will Greece-Croatia (ESPN Deportes, 11:45 a.m.). Northern Ireland is looking for its first World Cup berth since 1986.
CAF: In African qualifying, Ivory Coast needs a victory Saturday over group-leading Morocco to reach its fourth consecutive World Cup (BeIN Sports, 9:20 a.m.)