World Cup qualifying heads into its final round as well as a few other friendly matches for the international preview to look at…
EUROPEAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
With Group A having been settled, there is only really positions left to play for. Group winners Belgium have already qualified for Brazil and will be looking to keep their unbeaten record when they host Wales in Brussels. The Welsh will be looking to avoid finishing bottom of the group. They could also feasibly finish third but would need a win and for Serbia to slip up. The currently third placed Serbs finish their campaign at home to bottom side Macedonia. The other game in the group sees Scotland host Croatia as the hosts also look to finish away from the bottom.
Not much to play for in Group B either. With Italy having already sewn up the group and results not working out, the runners up from this group will not be in the play-offs. There is still pride to play for which makes these games interesting. Second placed Bulgaria host fourth placed Czech Republic who are only a point behind. Third placed Denmark host the bottom side Malta looking to end their campaign on a high while group winners Italy host surprise package Armenia who are still looking to finish second.
Another group that is full of dead rubbers sees the top two clash in Solna as Sweden host group winners Germany. Third placed Austria travel to the Faroe Islands looking for the point to secure third place. Fourth placed Republic of Ireland will be trying to climb above the Austrians and finish in style when they host Kazakhstan in Dublin,
Second place is still very much up for grabs in Group D with three teams vying for it. Current occupants Turkey host group winners Holland knowing that a win would secure them the spot. Third place Romania (only behind on goal difference) host Estonia knowing that they have to better Turkey’s result to get second. Fourth placed Hungary are two points behind after their mauling in Holland but host whipping boys Andorra. They need for Romania and Turkey to lose as well as a win for themselves to make it. This is the group to watch.
It’s a straight shootout for second place between Iceland and Slovenia in Group E. Second place Iceland have a difficult trip to fourth place Norway but know that matching Slovenia’s result is all they need. The Slovenians – a point behind in third – travel to group winners Switzerland knowing that only a win will do if they want to make the play-offs. The other game sees the bottom two clash in Nicosia. Cyprus host Albania with the Albanians hoping to climb up above Norway who are only a point above them.
It’s a battle to see who wins this group. Russia are currently top and only need a point when they make the trip to Baku to play fourth placed Azerbaijan to secure their passage to Brazil. Second placed Portugal – three points behind – host bottom side Coimbra knowing that nothing less than a win will do if they want to have any chance of avoiding the play-offs. The other group game sees third placed Israel host Northern Ireland looking to end their campaign with a win.
The top two spots haven’t been decided in Group G either. Bosnia Herzegovina sit top on goal difference but face a tough trip to Lithuania. The Lithuanians are looking to finish third while Bosnia need to just match the Greek result to win the group. Greece host bottom side Liechtenstein in Piraeus knowing that a win would put them in a strong position. The other game sees Slovakia travel to Riga to face Latvia where they will try to hold on to third place.
Group H is still up in the air. Leaders England know that a win will qualify them for Brazil and they will be looking to get it when they hist fourth place Poland at Wembley. Second place Ukraine need just a point from their trip to San Marino to secure a play-off spot while third place Montenegro host Moldova knowing that they’re going to need a minor miracle to make the play-offs.
World champions Spain need just a point to secure their automatic passage to Brazil. They host second bottom Georgia in Albacete. Second place France need a win to even be in contention for top spot when they host third placed side Finland in Paris.
CONCACAF WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
The situation in “The Hex” is very simple. Fourth placed Mexico need just a solitary point away to Costa Rica to secure the play-off spot against New Zealand ahead of Panama. A Panamanian win over group winners USA and a Mexico defeat could see Panama sneak in but it is a very long shot. Honduras need just a single point too on their visit to Jamaica to secure the final automatic place. An unlikely defeat to the winless Jamaicans and a Mexico win could see Honduras drop to the play-off spot although this is also highly unlikely.
SOUTH AMERICAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Results in the penultimate round of fixtures has meant that there is not a huge amount to play for in South America. Uruguay will be looking to avoid another play-off with Asia (this time Jordan) by defeating group winners Argentina at home. Only a win will do for the Uruguayans and even then that only gives them a small chance. The important game for Uruguay occurs in Santiago where fourth place Chile host third place Ecuador. Both sides are three points ahead of Uruguay with a game to go meaning that a draw would send both to Brazil. A defeat for either side could see them forced into a play-off. The bottom three are also in action looking to avoid finishing last. Second bottom Paraguay host the already qualified Colombia knowing a win would guarantee them not to prop everyone else up. The game in Lima is perhaps more likely to produce the bottom side as third bottom Peru host bottom side Bolivia. Bolivia have not traveled well in qualifying (only one point in seven matches) and need a win to get off the bottom.
AFRICAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
It’s play-off time in Africa and there is only one first leg tie still to play and it’s a big one. Two giants of African football clash in Kumasi as Ghana host Egypt. Both sides breezed through their second round groups with Egypt looking especially impressive. Under American coach Bob Bradley, the Egyptians were the only side with a perfect record in their group. Ghana also looked good at both ends of the pitch in the second round – they scored the most goals (eighteen in six games) and conceded the least (three in six). This should be an excellent game.
There are four international friendlies for your choosing on Tuesday. The early kick off sees an already qualified South Korea (fresh off a 2-0 defeat to World Cup hosts Brazil) take on African side Mali in Cheonan. The World Cup hosts Brazil continue their preparations for a tilt at the trophy with a game against the 2012 African champions Zambia. Japan travel to Minsk to meet Belarus at the Torpedo Stadium while managerless Australia look to bounce back from consecutive 6-0 defeats when they face Canada at Craven Cottage.
That is the international preview for the upcoming fixtures. There sure are some big ones in there. Who do you think will make the World Cup and who will fall just short? Get in touch here or on Facebook or Twitter.