Category Archives: 2014 world cup

2014 World Cup Update: 16 Playing for 8

Today and Wednesday are the last days of qualification for the World Cup finals. After that, all that remains is the draw on December 6th at 1:00 PM Eastern.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Two games remain in the 3rd Round.

  • Ghana @ Egypt (11:00 AM): Bob Bradley and the Pharaohs face incredibly long odds down 6-1 on aggregate to Ghana.
  • Burkina Faso @ Algeria (3:15 PM): This one is close, as Burkina Faso is up 3-2 at the moment. However, the 1 goal margin means all sorts of crazy away goals rules are in play, so keep an eye out on this one.

Four games remain in the 2nd Round.

  • Greece @ Romania (2:00 PM, The Greeks got an important late goal to go up 3-1 at home, but a 2-0 win at home for the Romanians will put them through thanks to away goals.
  • Iceland @ Croatia (2:15 PM, Iceland can properly be described as “plucky” as they attempt to become the smallest nation to ever qualify for a World Cup. They held Croatia to a 0-0 draw at home, which makes their task on the return leg that much harder, but even a 1-1 draw would do thanks to away goals.
  • Portugal @ Sweden (2:45 PM, Ronaldo beat Zlatan with an 82nd minute header last week. More importantly, Portugal was the side that looked like more of a team with a superstar and just a one-man show.
  • Ukraine @ France (3:00 PM, The Ukrainians mostly outclassed the French last week on their way to a 2-0 home win. The French have a lot of work to do to avoid missing their first World Cup since 1994.

Inter-confederation Playoffs
Both these games take place on Wednesday.

  • Mexico @ New Zealand (1:00 AM, ESPN): Mexico finally looked like Mexico last week and soundly defeated an inferior opponent at the Azteca for the first time in away. That 5-1 drubbing makes it nearly impossible for the All Whites to make consecutive trips to the World Cup for the first time ever.
  • Jordan @ Uruguay (6:00 PM, Uruguay also took care of business last week, winning 5-0 in Amman. The return leg should be a victory lap for La Celeste.

That’s about it.

2014 World Cup Update: Playoffs?!?

That’s right folks, in two weeks we will know who will occupy the remaining 11 spots in the 2014 World Cup Finals. Accordingly, I have updated my difficult-to-read-list of the status of all FIFA members. This table is organized by status and then date this time around. The massive image showing everyone’s route to the Finals has also been updated. (I also updated the CONCACAF and AFC guides.)

So let’s do our usual whip-around coverage thing, starting with the…

Inter-confederation playoffs

First up is Jordan vs. Uruguay. In a somewhat similar fashion to what happened in the previous World Cup cycle, Uruguay wasn’t quite good enough to qualify automatically out CONMEBOL. They shouldn’t really have any trouble with Jordan, though. The Jordanians only have one player that plays outside the Middle East, while Uruguay has guys like Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. It’s hard to see how this will be close.

Next up is Mexico vs. New Zealand. Mexico shouldn’t have much trouble here either, as many of the All-Whites play in New Zealand’s semi-pro league. But, well, Mexico shouldn’t really even be here in the first place, and the latest lame duck coach isn’t even going to call in his European based players. Can El Tri finally get it done? Again, the odds say yes, but the odds also didn’t have them needing a stoppage time goal from their archrivals to save them from not qualifying at all.


The CAF Third Round will be decided this weekend. Remember, the away goals rule is in effect. If the fixture is tied regardless, then there will be two periods of extra time followed by a shootout.

  • Ivory Coast vs. Senegal: The Ivory Coast won the first leg 3-1 at home. The return leg will actually be played in Morocco, but regardless, if Senegal scores two without allowing any, the will advance on away goals. If they win 3-0 or better, they win automatically. Any win or draw on their part obviously works in the Ivory Coast’s favor. If Senegal win 3-1, then it will go to extra time. If Senegal win 4-2, they will actually lose, as Ivory Coast would have more away goals on aggregate. (This same logic applies to pretty much everything else.)
  • Ethiopia vs. Nigeria: Nigeria won the first leg 2-1, giving them a huge advantage on the return. They should qualify.
  • Tunisia vs. Cameroon: the first leg was a 0-0 draw, putting Tunisia in the position of winning any non-scoreless draw. So, 0-0 they go to extra time, Cameroon wins they go to the World Cup, and if Tunisia wins or draws 1-1 or better, they go to the World Cup.
  • Ghana vs. Egypt: the best story in international football was obliterated 6-1 last month. Barring an utter miracle, this will be Bob Bradley’s last game as Egypt’s coach (apparently he was almost fired after the match anyway).
  • Burkina Faso vs. Algeria: Burkina Faso won the first leg at home 3-2, so Algeria has a bit of a hill to climb on the return.


We’ll conclude with a quick preview of the UEFA playoff ties.

  • Portugal vs. Sweden: surprisingly, stadia were found that could contain both Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s egos.
  • Ukraine vs. France: the French had the misfortune of being in the same group as Spain. Presumably they won’t need a handball to get into the World Cup this time around, but the Ukrainians should be a pretty tough test in and of themselves.
  • Greece vs. Romania: I really don’t know any cracks I can make about either of these teams, so hopefully this turns out to be interesting soccer-wise. Greece was the top 2nd-place team and actually finished with a positive goal difference, so they probably have an edge here.
  • Iceland vs. Croatia: Iceland were the darlings of the UEFA qualification cycle, coming out of almost nowhere to finish 2nd in the group ahead of more established teams like Slovenia and Norway. They’ll face a better team that had a disappointing campaign in Croatia. This could be a fun one.

I’ll try to check in early next week with how everyone did. Until then!

2014 World Cup Update: Commentary and Selected Scenarios for 10/15

Editor’s note: this was my draft going into last night, but some stuff came up and I could not finish it. I just wanted to publish the work I did for posterity. A proper wrap-up post will come soon.

Lots of stuff is bound to go down on Tuesday. Let’s have a look.


Nothing will conclude in Africa on the 15th, with the return leg of all the matches taking place in November. That said, we can talk about the early results. (INSERT)


The US has secured the top of the table going into their match against Panama. First, let’s talk scenarios.

Team W D L GF GA Diff Pts
United States 6 1 2 12 6 +6 19
Costa Rica 4 3 2 11 6 +5 15
Honduras 4 2 3 11 10 +1 14
Mexico 2 5 2 6 7 -1 11
Panama 1 5 3 8 11 -3 8
Jamaica 0 4 5 3 11 -8 4

No matter what, Honduras can do worse than 4th place, so they have a spot in the inter-confederation playoff against New Zealand at least. Costa Rica already has a ticket to Brazil.

  • Honduras can clinch a spot in the World Cup Final with a win or draw against Jamaica.
  • Honduras can clinch with any Mexico draw or loss to Costa Rica.
  • Mexico can clinch a spot in the World Cup Final with a win over Costa Rica and a Honduras loss to Jamaica. Mexico would also need to win by at least two goals.
  • Mexico can clinch a spot in the Inter-Confederation Playoff with any win or draw.
  • Mexico can clinch a spot in the Inter-Confederation Playoff with any Panama draw or loss to the United States.
  • Panama can clinch a spot in the playoff with a win over the United States and a Mexico loss. Panama would need to beat the US by at least two goals. There are scenarios where Panama can prevail over Mexico if they finish with the same goal difference, provided Mexico does not overtake them in terms of total goals scored.


Colombia clinched on Friday. The remaining three non-eliminated teams can do no worse than the Inter-Confederation playoff against Jordan. The remaining matches that matter are Chile vs. Ecuador and Uruguay vs. Argentina.

  • Ecuador and Chile will clinch a spot in the Final with any Uruguay draw or loss to Argentina.
  • Ecuador and Chile will clinch a spot in the Final if they draw against each other.
  • Uruguay can only clinch a spot in the final if there is a loser in the Ecuador-Chile match and if they beat Argentina. In that case, it will come down to goal difference. Uruguay currently has a –1 differential, while Ecuador is at +5 and Chile is at +3.

2014 World Cup Update: Commentary and Selected Scenarios for 10/11

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?

Cote d’Ivoire Senegal
Ethiopia Nigeria
Tunisia Cameroon
Ghana Egypt
Burkina Faso Algeria

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.

Team W D L GF GA Diff Pts
United States 5 1 2 10 6 +4 16
Costa Rica 4 3 1 11 5 +6 15
Honduras 3 2 3 10 10 0 11
Panama 1 5 2 7 9 -2 8
Mexico 1 5 2 4 6 -2 8
Jamaica 0 4 4 3 9 -6 4
  • 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.

Group A

  • Belgium will directly qualify with a win or draw over Croatia.

Group B

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.

Group C

  • Germany will qualify with a win or draw over Ireland.
  • Germany will qualify with a loss or draw by Sweden against Austria.

Group D

The Netherlands have already qualified, leaving Hungary, Turkey, and Romania fighting for second.

Group E

  • Switzerland will qualify with a win over Albania.
  • Switzerland will qualify with a draw and an Iceland loss or draw to Cyprus.

Group F

  • 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.

Group G

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).

Group H

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.

Group I

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.

2014 World Cup Update: Selected Scenarios for Sept. 10

More World Cup qualification scenarios, hopefully correct!


Uzbekistan will advance to the inter-confederation playoff against the 5th place CONMEBOL team with a win or draw against Jordan. Therefore, Jordan must win outright to advance.


  • The United States will directly qualify for the World Cup if they defeat Mexico and Honduras wins or draws against Panama.
  • Costa Rica will directly qualify for the World Cup with a win and a Honduras win or draw against Panama.


  • With a Uruguay loss to Colombia, Argentina and Colombia will directly qualify for the World Cup.
  • Argentina will directly qualify with a win over Paraguay.
  • Argentina can directly qualify with a draw if Uruguay loses or draws against Colombia.


  • Italy will directly qualify for the World Cup with a win over the Czech Republic.
  • Italy can directly qualify with a draw if Bulgaria draws against Malta.
  • Italy can directly qualify even with a loss if Bulgaria loses to Malta.
  • Germany can directly qualify with a win over the Faroe Islands if Sweden loses or draws against Kazakhstan.
  • The Netherlands can directly qualify with a win over Andorra and a Romania loss or draw against Turkey.
  • The Netherlands can also directly qualify with a draw and a Romania loss.