It’s that time again. In many confederations we’re now in the home-stretch of qualifying. So let’s go confederation-by-confederation as usual and breakdown what we’re looking at.
Before we begin, though, I have updated many of the resources on the site here, including the status of every member of FIFA and the “Everything” chart.
Last month, Jordan clinched advancement to the inter-confederation playoff by defeating Uzbekistan 9-8 in penalties after each side drew 2-2 on aggregate. It’s a disappointing result for the Uzbeks, as at one time they were leading their group and only lost out on qualifying directly on goal difference with South Korea. What will they be haunted by? The own goal in Seoul back in June that led to a 1-0 loss? Allowing Qatar to score before they realized that they needed goals, triggering a furious comeback but ultimately coming up short despite the 5-1 win? Or the two misses in penalties against Jordan?
Saturday and Sunday mark the beginnings of the final play-off matches for Africa. 5 ties for 5 spots in Brazil. The draw?
It’s hard not to root for Egypt, and not just because that means if they advance the US can’t lose to Ghana again. And it’s not the Bob Bradley revenge angle either. It’s because, and SI’s Grant Wahl explains, Bradley is the right man for the job, even after he was no longer the right man for his homeland.
Costa Rica and the United States have clinched, and I still love watching these highlights from last month:
(I still get excited when I see the first Eddie Johnson header and see it get saved.)
So let’s look at the table and talk scenarios.
- Honduras will advance directly to the 2014 World Cup Final with a win and a Panama-Mexico draw. (This also means that Mexico and Panama would be able to do no better than qualify for the Inter-Confederation Playoff against New Zealand.)
- Jamaica is completely eliminated with any draw or loss.
If there is a winner in Mexico City, then they are in good position to try to catch Honduras on goals on Tuesday, though Honduras will play Jamaica next week so that may still be difficult. Of course, if Costa Rica is following the same philosophy as the US, then Hondurans should have their work cut out for them even at home. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance the US game against Panama on Tuesday will matter, which leads to the question: who will be this cycle’s Jonathan Bornstein? (Let’s also snicker a little about how I asserted that Mexico will qualify. Whoops!)
I’m pretty sure the All Whites just want to know where they’re going to fly to already.
I’m not going to put the table here, but what you need to know is that Argentina has qualified and tat Colombia and Chile have clinched at least a spot in the play-off. Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay have all been eliminated. This leaves 4 teams vying for the three direct spots, plus Venezuela for the play-off spot.
- Venezuela will be eliminated if Ecuador-Uruguay is a draw.
- Venezuela will be eliminated if they lose or draw to Paraguay.
- Colombia will directly qualify with a win over Chile.
- Colombia will directly qualify with a win or draw against Chile and an Ecuador-Uruguay draw.
- Chile will directly qualify with a win over Colombia and an Ecuador-Uruguay draw.
I’m just going to go group-by-group here.
- Belgium will directly qualify with a win or draw over Croatia.
Italy has already qualified, leaving a 4-way fight for second place. Unfortunately, having to take the ranking of the 2nd-place teams into account makes things too complicated for me to be willing to figure out. The teams in question are Bulgaria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Armenia. I will say I’d be pretty crestfallen if my Danish soccer-playing doppelganger doesn’t make it to Brazil.
- Germany will qualify with a win or draw over Ireland.
- Germany will qualify with a loss or draw by Sweden against Austria.
The Netherlands have already qualified, leaving Hungary, Turkey, and Romania fighting for second.
- Switzerland will qualify with a win over Albania.
- Switzerland will qualify with a draw and an Iceland loss or draw to Cyprus.
- Russia will directly qualify with a win over Luxembourg and a Portugal loss to Israel.
- Israel will be eliminated with a draw or loss to Portugal.
Both Bosnia and Greece have 19 points, so neither can clinch today. However, Bosnia is 15 goals better in the goal difference column, so Greece would need a ton of goals if they wound up tied in the end. Greece plays Slovakia while Bosnia gets Liechtenstein (and thus a really good chance for them to further pad that goal difference).
Only Moldova and San Marino have been eliminated in this group, so that means everything’s still in play. However, there is a scenario where one team can qualify directly.
- England will clinch with a win over Montenegro and an Ukraine loss to Poland.
Spain and France are both sitting on 14 points, however, Spain has played one less game. They will play that one game today against Belarus, however, a win does not allow them to clinch just yet.