Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifying: Previews and Scenarios

1 Comment

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.

CONCACAF

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..

AFRICA

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‘.

EUROPE

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.

SOUTH AMERICA

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

Pulisic sparks BVB’s breakdown of Liverpool

Leave a comment

Second half substitute Christian Pulisic stole the show in Charlotte, where Borussia Dortmund toppled Liverpool 3-1 in International Champions Cup play on Sunday.

[ MORE: Mina to Everton? ]

Virgil Van Dijk had given Liverpool the lead with a first half header, but it was all BVB in the second half.

Pulisic won and converted a penalty, then scored a second before taking the shot that led to Jacob Bruun Larsen’s rebound goal.

The performance put Pulisicmania in a nutshell for the unindoctrinated, and spoiled the trip to the stadium for a bright red crowd.

Moments like this don’t hurt either:

Pulisic wins, converts penalty against Liverpool (fan video)

AP Photo/Annie Rice
Leave a comment

USMNT star and Borussia Dortmund teenage winger Christian Pulisic won a penalty kick off James Milner, then insisted on taking the spot kick in front of his home crowd.

[ MORE: Mina to Everton? ]

Pulisic, 19, took the ball off Mario Gotze and finished his chance clinically to equalize against Liverpool, his second won penalty of the American tour.

Pulisic began the game on the bench after starting in Chicago against Manchester City, and Liverpool had gone ahead early when Virgil Van Dijk took advantage of poorly set up BVB zonal marking.

But Pulisic cut past Milner and was tripped by the veteran before clattering into Ragnar Klavan and earning the PK.

Everton target Mina wants to stay at Barca, but also to play

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Goal.com says Yerry Mina could be leaving the Camp Nou after just one season for meaningful playing time at Goodison Park.

Mina’s agent says the center back would still like to feature at Barca following his strong World Cup with Colombia, but that Everton and Zenit Saint-Petersburg are interested in the $20 million man.

[ MORE: El Tri’s Reyes to Newcastle? ]

He was WhoScored’s second-best player in the entire World Cup tournament, going 270 minutes for Los Cafeteros. Mina averaged seven clearances a match, with 1.3 tackles and an interception per contest. Here’s Mina’s agent, from The Liverpool Echo:

“Everton is a club that insists on the player, who has called us directly. There are other teams like Zenit, but we hope Barcelona will take the initiative. He wants to play and do it in Barcelona. For Yerry Mina it would be a failure not to play. He just wants to play.”

The 23-year-old played just six times for Barcelona last season, and would join Michael Keane and Mason Holgate as younger center backs in Everton’s corps (Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are well into the careers).

Rumor roundup: Interest in Martial; Mexican to Newcastle?

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sometimes a transfer rumor report talks itself out of probability by the time it reaches completion.

Sky Sports is reporting that Manchester United attacker Anthony Martial has interest from the likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Klopp on Pulisic ]

But United doesn’t have interest in selling Martial and may pick up an option in his contract to extend him through the 2019-2020 season.

And the report says Chelsea has not made an offer — hard to believe United would sell inside the Premier League anyway — while Bayern thinks the price tag is too high. And if Bayern feels that way, than BVB is gonna pass, too.

Still, something to put on your radar.


Swansea City center back Federico Fernandez saw his side relegated last season and may not favor a campaign in the Championship.

The Chronicle says he could move to Newcastle on loan despite a transfer tag of less than $8 million.

Fernandez, however, did not name names outside of Krasnodar:

“The club (Krasnodar) are very interested in me and we will have to see what happens with the window. Of course I have a contract with Swansea and that’s why I’m here and working hard. But if they want me to come then of course I want to play at the highest level.”

The Magpies could land a defender from a World Cup participant, though, as Porto’s Diego Reyes may prefer a move to Newcastle (Turkish link) over interest from Fenerbahce and West Ham United.

The 55-times capped Mexican center back has played on the right as well, though he missed the tournament with a hamstring injury.