Football: Underdogs Israel go up against Spain, Croatia v Ukraine in top-of-the-table clash

Israel's defender Taleb Tawatha (left) plays with a ball during a training session at the Molinon stadium in Gijon, on March 23, 2017 on the eve of the World Cup 2018 European qualifying football match Spain vs Israel.
Israel's defender Taleb Tawatha (left) plays with a ball during a training session at the Molinon stadium in Gijon, on March 23, 2017 on the eve of the World Cup 2018 European qualifying football match Spain vs Israel.PHOTO: AFP

Paris (AFP) - There is all to play for in an intriguing Group G. Spain are top on goal difference from Italy. But Israel are very much in the hunt, just one point behind.

Only the top team from each group is guaranteed a place in 2018 Russia with most of the teams finishing second going into play-offs.

That means either Spain or Italy - both former World Cup winners - are going to have to do it the hard way.

On Friday, Italy will fully expect to brush aside Albania. The same evening, Spain will need to be wary of Israel. His side might be the underdogs, but Israel boss Elisha Levy has vowed to go on the attack in Gijon.

The top-two clash in Group I when leaders Croatia entertain Ukraine on Friday in Zagreb.

Something needs to give: both are unbeaten after four games and victory for Croatia would give them a comfortable buffer in a group that also includes Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland and Turkey, third and fourth respectively.

Turkey's campaign has been a disappointment so far and they must beat Finland at home to keep any hopes of 2018 Russia alive. Iceland travel to the bottom side Kosovo.