Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Russia-bound and not

Today Iceland made history: with a 2-0 victory over Kosovo they won their World Cup qualification group and will be going to their first World Cup ever. And with this, Iceland is the smallest nation (in terms of inhabitants) ever to have qualified for a World Cup.
There are only 11 men on the pitch, but surely bigger nations will feel sad they didn't make it.
In Africa this has not been the case, as the two most populous nations, Egypt and Nigeria have both qualified with a match to go. Senegal and Tunisia are also on the verge of qualifying, while Cote d'Ivoire and Morocco will play a real final for the final spot.
In CONCACAF Mexico and Costa Rica have qualified while USA, who seemed in trouble, are now close to qualifying after trouncing Panama 4-0.
While Japan, Corea, Saudi Arabia and Iran are qualified, while Australia and Syria are set for a clash for the last Asian spot.
In Europe most of the first spots are decided, but the possible play-offs will be interesting. Ireland upset Wales with an away victory to take second spot, while Italy is also in the play-offs along Denmark, Croatia, Greece and Northern Ireland. Portugal and Switzerland will be fighting for first and second spot in their group, while Netherlands will play for everything when they face Sweden at home: only a Dutch victory by a lot of goals will give them a play-off, which seems unlikely...
A World Cup without Netherlands will not be the same, and a World Cup without Argentina will hardly be worth watching. At least Argentina "only" need an away victory against an Ecuador side that has no options of qualifying...