As the top tiers in Russia and Ukraine head into their respective winter breaks, FIFA.com takes a look at the first half of the 2013/14 seasons, with a tight race in Russia and Shakhtar flying high over the border.
For the last eight European teams still battling for qualification, it all comes down to this. France and Romania have most to do, but the heat is on for all the sides involved. FIFA.com previews the second legs.
France coach Didier Deschamps said that his side failed to cope with Ukraine's physical approach in their FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off first leg, and lamented Laurent Koscielny's late red card.
FIFA.com reviews the action from the FIFA World Cup European zone qualifying play-offs. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a crucial goal, Greece took control over Romania and France slipped to a 2-0 defeat in Ukraine.
France are in danger of missing their first FIFA World Cup in 20 years after goals from Roman Zozulia and Andriy Yarmolenko left Ukraine on the verge of qualification and Didier Deschamps' side with much to do in the second leg.
Friday's play-off fixtures feature several fascinating talking points including the match-up between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ukraine's young Andriy Yarmolenko and surprise side Iceland.