A World Cup finals without the defending champions would be a severely diminished competition however that is becoming an increasing possibility after Spain were stunned at home by Finland.
Teemu Pukki’s late equalizer cancelling out a Sergio Ramos strike has put the defending and two-time European champions in a decidedly awkward situation. They now trail long time rivals France by two points and have to visit Paris on Tuesday. The knowledge that anything but a win will probably see them finish second in Group I, makes this match the most pressurized situation they’ve experienced since the final of Euro 2012.
Spain coach, Vicente del Bosque cannot be relishing the prospect of a two-legged shoot out in November to qualify for Brazil 2014.
Can you imagine that, the best national team we’ve ever been privileged to watch in that kind of lottery. The list of dangerous, exceptional and talented countries who may finish second in their respective UEFA qualifying groups is a murderers row.
Croatia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Sweden, Hungary, Romania, Portugal, Greece and England could all be potential opponents to the World Champions should the unthinkable happen.
FIFA made a bold statement in 2002 when they decided that the champion should have to participate in the qualification process instead of automatically moving to the finals as had been the case since the inception of the tournament back in 1930 however I don;t think in the corridors of FIFA HQ in Zurich they ever imagined Spain not playing next summer.