World Cup Qualifying matches are in abundance on Tuesday with action throughout CONCACAF, Africa, Europe and South America. Here’s a look at all the key matches and scenarios for the day.
With the United States and Costa Rica having booked their tickets to the World Cup, CONCACAF qualifying is all about the mad dash for third place.
With a three point gap separating third place Honduras from fourth place Mexico, Los Catrachos hold the keys to their own destiny. A win or draw against Jamaica and they’re through to Brazil. Lose to the Reggae Boyz and Honduras could be leap-frogged by Mexico if they take care of business against Costa Rica.
With Costa Rica through their match with Mexico is all on El Tri. A draw will ensure Mexico fourth place and an intercontinental play-off against New Zealand while a win combined with a Honduras loss could see Mexico finish in third. If Victor Manuel Vucetich’s side lose they will crash out of the play-offs so long as Panama beat the U.S..
With the first legs of the other four African World Cup playoffs having been decided this past weekend, the only remaining qualifier on the slate sees Ghana welcome Egypt.
This match is the first of a two legged play-off between Bob Bradley’s Egypt squad and the Black Stars of Ghana. Historically, Ghana has the slight edge in this one having won eight, drawn five and lost five but there’s something special about Bradley’s squad, who come into this game unbeaten in qualifying.
A win would do wonders for Egypt, who return home for the return leg of this fixture on November 19th in Egypt. For an in depth look at this fixture don’t miss Liviu Bird’s masterpiece, ‘Egypt faces biggest challenge of World Cup qualification yet in Ghana‘.
Holland, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland have clinched berths for the World Cup by winning their qualifying groups and on Tuesday, four more spots will be decided on the last day of group play. 26 matches will be played across Europe today and here is all you need to know about the pertinent qualifiers.
Group A: Scotland v. Croatia
Belgium booked their place in Brazil and Croatia are guaranteed second place although they are not assured a play-off place as there are three teams (Macedonia, Wales and Scotland) who can finish bottom.
Group B: Bulgaria v. Czech Republic and Denmark v. Malta
In Group B, Italy has clinched but four teams could mathematically finish second. Bulgaria are the favorites if they beat the Czech Republic at home. Third-place Denmark are even on points with Bulgaria and will finish second if they better Bulgaria’s result, or win by eight or more goals against Malta.
Group C: Sweden v. Germany
Group C has already been decided, with Germany qualifying and Sweden being assured a play-off place.
Group D: Turkey v. Holland and Romania v. Estonia.
Holland has locked up Group D meaning it’s a battle for the play-offs between Turkey and Romania. Both countries have the same 5-3-1 record but Turkey are ahead by four in goal difference. To qualify they’ll need to get past the Dutch while Romania face an easier test Estonia (2-6-1) at home.
Group E: Norway v. Iceland and Switzerland v. Slovenia
Switzerland are going to Brazil meaning the battle for second place in Group E is between Iceland and Slovenia. Iceland will go through with a win against Norway but they can also finish runners-up if Slovenia do not better their result against Switzerland.
Group F: Azerbaijan v. Russia and Portugal v. Luxembourg
Russia lead Group F by three points over Portugal meaning the only way Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. can avoid the playoffs is if they beat Luxembourg and the Russians slip up in Azerbaijan. It’s a highly unlikely scenario meaning Portugal will find themselves in the playoffs for the third straight tournament, most recently having defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina in the playoffs to reach the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship.
Group G: Lithuania v. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece v. Liechtenstein
The top two spots are up for grabs in Group G with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece in first and second place but the Bosnians 17 goal edge makes them heavy favorites if they secure victory at Lithuania. If they manage to do so, Greece will head to the playoffs while Bosnia-Herzegovina will go to their first World Cup since gaining independence in 1992.
Group H: England v. Poland and San Marino v. Ukraine and Montenegro v. Moldova
It’s squeaky bum time in Group H where England will head to Brazil with a victory over Poland. A draw will also suffice if Ukraine manage to slip up against San Marino. Both England and Ukraine are guaranteed a play-off spot regardless of who finishes second. Montenegro also has a long shot at second place, but it would take a Ukraine defeat along with an unlikely 12 goal swing to make that dream a reality.
Group I: Spain v. Georgia and France v. Finland
The reigning World Cup and European champions need just a draw from their home match against Georgia to secure top spot in Group I. The single point would be enough to condemn France to a two match playoff against a team to be determined. France must defeat Finland at home and hope Georgia can pull off a massive upset for Spain to drop into the playoffs.
Argentina and Colombia have already qualified leaving two additional automatic spots are up for grabs.
The biggest match of the day is between Chile and Ecuador with both teams set to qualify for Brazil with a draw. If for some reason that doesn’t happen – Uruguay is the only other side who could reach Brazil if they defeat Argentina and enjoy a massive goal swoon (they are four behind Chile and six behind Ecuador).
The likely scenario is that, regardless of the result, La Celeste will face Jordan in the intercontinental play-off