Crunch time for Manchester United pair Patrice Evra and Nani as World Cup qualifying reaches climax

By Scott Hunt

Manchester United duo Patrice Evra and Nani are set to feature for their countries this week as they bid to reach the World Cup in Brazil next year through the play-offs.

Evra is likely to feature for France as they take on Ukraine while Portugal’s Nani could be in the line-up against Sweden.

Former world champions France finished behind reigning world and European champions Spain in UEFA Qualifying Group I.

Evra is currently first choice left-back for his national side who will enter the two leg tie with Ukraine as favourites to progress.

The United man caused controversy on his last international appearance after he labelled 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu and three other commentators ‘tramps’ following their 3-0 win over Finland.

Manager Didier Deschamps has seen fit to include Evra in the squad after the French Football Federation did not punish the left back.

“The Patrice Evra controversy? I would have preferred to avoid such a thing – but I have known worse things,” Deschamps told SkySports.

Deschamps, part of the 1998 World Cup winning squad, was seemingly irked by questions over Evra’s inclusion in the squad and launched into a passionate and bizarre defence of his selection.

“I am an idiot. Former France captain Laurent Blanc is an idiot, Alex Ferguson is a stupid idiot as he kept him eight years at Man Utd and gave him the captain’s armband.

“I could be wrong but his presence is down to sporting logic. That is my only logic.”

Ukraine, runner-up in England’s group, will play the first leg at home on Friday before the return leg in France on Tuesday.

Portugal finished a point adrift of Russia in Group F and take on a Sweden team featuring star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Nani scored on his last outing for Portugal, a 3-0 win over Luxembourg.

The winger has found his United opportunities limited this season and was booed by sections of the Old Trafford crowd during the win over Stoke.

Portugal face a testing game to secure their World Cup place, playing the first leg against Sweden at home before travelling to Scandinavia on Tuesday.

Sweden finished second only to Germany in qualifying and will provide stern opposition for Nani and Portugal.

A host of Manchester United players will be in international friendly action this week, including four players who may feature for England in their friendlies against Chile and Germany.

Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley could all be picked by Roy Hodgson.

Image courtesy of MUTV via YouTube, with thanks.

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