It’s international time! Here’s a quick preview of what’s coming up tonight…
EUROPEAN WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
It’s a big night for the top two in Group A as Belgium and Croatia face off in Zagreb. The Belgians have the chance to secure top spot and their World Cup place with at least a draw but will have to do it without the influential Vincent Kompany. There’s also a big game at the bottom of the group as Wales and Macedonia face off in Cardiff. The Welsh will be trying to ensure they don’t get cut off at the bottom of the group and will have to do so without a number of key players including Ashley Williams, Joe Allen and Joe Ledley.
It’s a big night in Group B as well. Second place Bulgaria face a tough trip to Armenia looking to strengthen their grip on the play off spot. Armenia currently sit in fifth but can still mathematically get into the play offs but will need two wins and a whole lot of luck. Third place Denmark, only a point behind the Bulgarians, will be looking for crucial points at home to the already qualified group winners Italy while bottom side Malta host a Czech Republic side also looking for that second spot. Definitely a group to keep your eyes on.
Top of the table Germany can finally settle their qualification for Brazil with a win over a Republic of Ireland side who can still mathematically reach the play offs. It would take a minor miracle for the Irish including victory in Germany but it looks unlikely especially since the two teams above them – Sweden and Austria – face each other. A point for Sweden would secure second place and a play off berth. Elsewhere, the bottom side Faroe Islands will be looking to get a point on the board when they host second bottom Kazakhstan.
The battle for a play off berth in this group is another tight one with each match a crucial one. The big game is in the Netherlands as the already qualified Oranje host second place Hungary. The Hungarians will be looking for anything from this game to set themselves up for Tuesdays deciding round of games. They’ll also have one eye on what happens in Tallinn as second bottom Estonia host third placed Turkey. The Turks got a big win over Romania in their last game and will look for another one here. The other game sees whipping boys Andorra, without a point or goal, host Romania. The Romanians will be looking for a big win for that important goal difference.
It’s hugely tight in Group E but the group winner could be decided tonight. Top of the table Switzerland travel to fifth place Albania knowing a win will take them to Brazil. The Albanians still have it all to play for as well as they’re only three points behind second placed Iceland who host bottom side Cyprus. Iceland will be looking for a big win as they continue their quest to qualify for their first World Cup. The other game is the battle of third and fourth as Slovenia host Norway with both sides looking for those crucial points.
The top two could be decided tonight in Group F as second place Portugal host third place Israel. The Portuguese are five points clear and a draw would see them at least get into the play offs. They will be looking for the win as they currently sit just a point behind top side Russia. The Russians travel to second bottom Luxembourg where a win – coupled with Portugal losing – would see them to Brazil. The other group game sees fourth placed Northern Ireland travel to bottom side Azerbaijan looking to ensure they finish qualifying in a respectable manner.
Group G sides are now just playing for position with the top two spots taken. Top of the table Bosnia Herzegovina – only there on goal difference – host bottom side Liechtenstein looking to hold on to the automatic spot and keep it from second place Greece. The Greeks host third placed Slovakia looking to keep up the pressure on Bosnia and get top spot. The other game sees fourth placed Lithuania host fifth placed Latvia looking to keep their position ahead of the visitors.
Group H is still unresolved completely but it could become clearer by the end of the night as the four teams in contention all play each other. Group leaders England host Montenegro at Wembley where a win would see them put one foot on the plane to Brazil. A win for the third placed Montenegrins would put them in a great position. The other big game sees second placed Ukraine host fourth placed Poland. The Euro 2012 co-hosts face off with the Poles needing the three points a little more than Ukraine. The other game in the group sees the two bottom sides face off with second bottom Moldova hosting whipping boys San Marino.
Just the one game in Group I as world and European champions Spain host bottom side Belarus. The Spanish are joint top with France but have this game in hand and a win would see them pretty much on their way to Brazil. Belarus will be looking to end their campaign in a positive way but it will be a tough one for them.
CONCACAF WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
The CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers are still going strong with just two places left for three teams. Honduras currently sit in the third and final automatic qualifying spot and they host second placed (and already qualified) Costa Rica. A win would pretty much guarantee the spot for Honduras while Costa Rica will just be looking to finish top. Top of the table USA host bottom side Jamaica who can still mathematically make the play off spot but it would take a huge turnaround. The big match is the late one as a disappointing Mexico – currently fifth and outside of the qualification spots – host fourth place and surprise package Panama. A win for either team would almost guarantee the play off spot while a draw would leave a very interesting final round.
SOUTH AMERICAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
A lot could be decided in the penultimate round of the South American qualifiers. The big game is in Barranquilla as second placed Colombia host third placed Chile. A win for either side would send them to Brazil automatically while a draw would be good enough for Colombia and almost enough for Chile. A huge match though takes place in San Cristobal as sixth placed Venezuela host bottom side Paraguay in their final game. Venezuela are three points behind Uruguay and Ecuador and only a win would keep them in contention beyond tonight. Anything less and the top five will have at least a guaranteed play off spot. That game could be irrelevant as Uruguay and Ecuador face off in Quito where a draw would guarantee their play off spots at least. The other game sees already qualified Argentina look to guarantee top spot with a win when they host Peru.
A couple of friendlies of note tonight. Already qualified Japan face Serbia while France face another already qualified side in Australia.
There is the International Preview for tonight. Is there any game you are looking forward to? Get in touch.