The final international break of the year has plenty of interesting story lines to look out for. World Cup qualifying will be on the agenda in all confederations and there will be some intriguing friendlies as well.
Some confederations, like CONCACAF, are just getting started but they do so with a bang.
Mexico vs USA is the big game to start CONCACAF qualification and while it won’t be a death sentence for the loser it will leave an extremely bad taste in the mouth. If that side follows that up with another bad result then panic will set in but we shall see. Mexico, the US and Costa Rica are the favorites to progress but we’ll see what happens when things get started.
Qualification from Asia seems like a given for certain teams but, as of right now, Japan and South Korea area headed for the playoff where one, and possibly both, may not make it to Russia 2018. Of course, they’re only four games into a 10-game group so there’s plenty of time.
Things got really interesting in South American qualifying before the second half of qualifying even began. ESPN FC reported that Bolivia were forced to forfeit two results for fielding an ineligible player. That bumped Chile into the last qualification spot, the playoff one to be fair, with Argentina dropped to six. Brazil and Uruguay are well-placed at the top of the group with Colombia and Ecuador sandwiched between the quartet.
Things will shift even further with some big games in the next round. Colombia v Chile and Brazil v Argentina are the must watch games with both away sides needing a win. Uruguay host Ecuador as well, meaning all the top six play each other so that will be fun. Things don’t get any easier for Argentina as they play Colombia and Chile play Uruguay. (The major thing for Chile especially is Alexis Sanchez possibly missing out due to injury)
No offense to the Oceanic Federation but it is pretty much New Zealand’s to go through.
African qualification is pretty much just getting started as well and there are plenty of intriguing possibilities. DR Congo and Tunisia are off to a good start in Group A. In Group B, two of either Nigeria, Cameroon or Algeria will miss out. Ivory Coast are favorites in Group C as are Senegal in Group D while Egypt and Ghana will fight it out in Group D. The rounds will be halfway done by the time the international break is over so we’ll see whats what.
There’s still plenty of time for things to change in Europe but there are some interesting games in these next rounds. England v Scotland and France v Sweden, Croatia vs. Iceland and Austria vs. Iceland are among those. Apart from that there are few teams already running against the wind such as the Netherlands, Ukraine, Denmark, Scotland, Wales and Austria. Group D is especially interesting with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Austria all fighting it out.
I think Italy, England, Portugal and Croatia are more dark horses than contenders. Too much issues with all of those sides. Italy don’t convince, Portugal are too Ronaldo-dependent, Croatia hasn’t put it all together and England have a lot less experience than usual. Still interesting to see how they all do during this break.
A very, very good read. Really like Chile.
Ah, football in Africa. Always fun. I’m surprised Keshi lasted this long and a sacking was inevitable, especially after failing to get to the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
I think all the forwards mentioned are a bit better for their clubs than the author states but I get the premise. Also, Andres Iniesta is not better for Spain than Barcelona. Pretty equal with both.
Overall, I get it though. I still think club form is important but sometimes it just makes sense to bring in players who always seem to perform internationally regardless of their club form.
Very interesting read.
While Roberto Mancini has the simple solution with the whole play where you’re born deal, it really isn’t that simple. If a player is legitimately eligible for two countries by whatever means then they should be able to play for the one they choose. It may be tough to discern if it’s for their own personal goals, as the author brings up a good point with Mauro Cameronesi(though I find it really hard to believe that he couldn’t have made it into the Argentina team at some point) but they certainly can’t be forced into an option they may not prefer.
It’s becoming such a common thing nowadays that it’s really not a big issue, I think so at least, but it does become a big talking point when stars like Diego Costa make the turn. I bet you if he had made the switch earlier in his career, provided he had moved to Atletico Madrid earlier, or wasn’t as good when he made the switch then it wouldn’t have been a big issue. Brazil’s reactions were a bit ridiculous as well considering the plethora of players who have missed the boat in putting on the famous yellow shirt over the years but have played international football elsewhere. Marcos Senna anyone?
Until next time.
My piece for Houndsports on the international break. Should be fun. Going to watch the replay of France vs. Brazil in a bit. Hope it was good.
Just a random bit of World Football News. Both these regions in Spain have developed fantastic footballers throughout the years. Not a meaningful, or official, game in terms of the FIFA calendar but an interesting one nonetheless.
And then they’ll conquer the world. Well, maybe. I love the first line of the article.
“England plan to unleash a squad of thoughtful footballing RoboCops, capable of enforcing their will and skill despite anything the rest of the world can throw at them.”
It’s an interesting project but one that, as stated, needs the cooperation of the clubs. We know Arsene Wenger’s on board given the growing number of English players in the Arsenal side.
I think the author’s also poking a bit of fun at the fact that the FA states this project isn’t really copying any recent models in terms of how they want to cultivate the youngsters etc. If he’s not, then I am. Sorry. At this point, any nation trying to build from the youth up is copying someone’s recent model. Spanish, German, Dutch doesn’t matter.
What matters is you’re doing it. We’ll see how it works out, I guess.