Category Archives: World Cup

CONCACAF Update – Last night of WCQ

Tonight is the last round of the Hex to determine which teams from CONCACAF automatically qualify for the World Cup Finals in Brazil.  The U.S. and Costa Rica are already in, so that only leaves one more automatic spot.  Unless something dramatic happens tonight in Costa Rica, that appears to be Honduras.  Honduras currently sits three points clear of Mexico and seemingly has the easier game — they travel to Jamaica who will be trotting out a young team in preparations for the next major tournament.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, will be playing their regulars as they host Mexico.  Mexico is three points clear of Panama, who is hosting a rotated U.S. squad, but if Panama beats the U.S. badly, depending on the score of the Costa Rica – Mexico match,  anything can happen.  Here is the current table heading into the last match:

USA 9 6 1 2 12 6 19
Costa Rica 9 4 3 2 11 6 15
Honduras 9 4 2 3 11 10 14
Mexico 9 2 5 2 6 7 11
Panama 9 1 5 3 8 11 8
Jamaica 9 0 4 5 3 11 4

The most obvious result is that USA, Costa Rica, and Honduras automatically qualify while Mexico has to play in through the playoff against New Zealand.  While there are many US fans who are glad of Mexico’s struggles, I for one want to see them in Brazil.  Their difficulties in qualification do suggest that CONCACAF has gotten stronger, but it would be a shame if our historically strongest team were missing in Brazil.  That doesn’t seem to bode well for CONCACAF going forward.

The US game and the Honduras game will be aired on beIN Sport and beIN Sport Esp.  The Mexico game will be on Telemundo. All games kickoff at 8:30 pm tonight.

European WC Playoff – How UEFA Gets to 13 Teams with 9 Groups

OK…so UEFA (Europe qualifying) gets 13 teams into Brazil for the World Cup Finals.  They start with 53 teams.  They are divided into 9 groups.  The winner of each group qualifies for the finals.  So far, that is Belgium (A), Italy (B), Germany (C), Netherlands (D), Switzerland (E), Russia (F – if they hold onto their 1-0 lead at half).  The remaining groups can go either way.  At halftime, Greece looks to go in its Group G with Bosnia-Herzegovina to playoff.  England plays Poland later with Ukraine still in the running for automatic qualification.  Assuming Spain at least draws at home to Georgia, they automatically qualify. But, how are the remaining 4 places allocated?

According to the UEFA qualifying rules, the “eight best group runners up” will contest in home and away based on a draw for the remaining four spots.  Not quite sure what that means because, in Group I, France will have played one less game than all the other potential runners up.  But, based on the schedule today, my guess is as follows:

Croatia (A), no one from Group B, Sweden C, Romania edging out Turkey in D, Iceland (hopefully) in E, Portugal in F, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Greece in G, Ukraine in H, and France in I.  The rules are vague as to how the draw is conducted — do Coca Cola rankings apply?  Surely France will not play Portugal….that would be a bummer.

One thing is clear, the playoff round will be between November 15 and 19th of this year.

World Cup Qs on Today

Get your ESPN3 ready!  Lots of important Qualifiers on today.  Here is a quick rundown:

CONCACAF (our region)

US has already qualified so they will send a less experienced squad out tonight against Jamaica.  While the drama may be over for us, it is not for Mexico.  While many perceive Mexico as the strongest of the CONCACAF squads, they are in danger of not qualifying.  In the HEX (final 6 teams in CONCACAF), the top 3 qualify for the World Cup Finals in Brazil while the 4th place team goes to a playoff against Oceania (New Zealand has already qualified).  With only 2 matches left, Mexico sits in 5th place.  They host Panama tonight in a must win.  They then travel to Costa Rica for their final game on October 15. Interestingly, Costa Rica has been dominant at home in their qualifications except for a blip against, guess who, Mexico in September.  Mexico has changed their manager.  Can they change their fortune?

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
USA 8 5 1 2 10 6 16
Costa Rica 8 4 3 1 11 5 15
Honduras 8 3 2 3 10 10 11
Panama 8 1 5 2 7 9 8
Mexico 8 1 5 2 4 6 8
Jamaica 8 0 4 4 3 9 4

Lost in this dialogue is Honduras.  Honduras qualified for the 2010 Finals in South Africa — it was the first time they had qualified in 28 years.  They are in good position to qualify again for Brazil.  Honduras has a critical match at home today against Costa Rica and then travel to Jamaica.

UEFA (Belgium Fan Club Still Here)

Group A

Yes, this is Belgium’s golden generation — but when we adopted them, they had not qualified for a major tournament (Euros or WC) since 2002.  Sometimes “golden generations” disapoint, but not so for Belgium thus far.  With only 2 matches to play, they sit 5 points clear of Croatia, who was the group favorite on inception.  Today, in a key match, they travel to Croatia.  A draw here (or win), and they are through.  A loss at Croatia would place the focus on their home match against Wales and Croatia’s away match to Scotland.  This game is on RIGHT NOW!

Group B

Italy is solid with 7 points clear of Bulgaria.  Denmark is 1 back of Bulgaria and looking for the playoff.

Group C

Germany has appeared unstoppable, but Sweden sits only 5 points behind.  And, Sweden is home for its final 2 matches, against third place Austria with 14 points and first place Germany.  But, if Germany beats Ireland today at home, they are through.  Sweden likely playing for the playoff.

Group D

The Netherlands have wrapped up their place in the finals, but there is still a battle for the playoff spot between Hungary (14), Turkey (13), and Romania (13).  None of them play each other in the final two matches and Romania looks to have the easiest ride as both Hungary and Turkey play the Netherlands.

Group E

The Swiss are only 5 points clear of Iceland and Slovenia.  They travel to Albania today and a result there would punch their ticket.  Iceland hosts Cyprus in a likely win before traveling to Norway.  Norway could get in the playoff race with two results.  The sports-mad country still has a shot.

Group F

Portugal sits 1 point behind Russia but gets the benefit of 2 home games.  This is likely the last thrust from Portugal’s “golden generation” so we all want to see them in Brazil.  They look sure for 6 points at home against Israel and Luxembourg.  Russia, on the other hand, travel for their final 2 matches.  They have the benefit of traveling to the 2 weakest teams, but they will need to get results away to keep their lead.  The runner-up will go to the playoff.

Group G

Bosnia-Herz. and Greece are tied with 19 points each.  BIH host basement dwellers Liechten.  and travel to Lithuania, while Greece host both final matches against Liechten. and Slovakia.  This one is one to watch.  One of these teams will go to the playoff.

Group H

This is the Group that have all the English in a tizzy.  England’s (16) impotence in qualification is written about daily.  After 8 matches, they have failed to separate themselves from Ukraine (15), Montenegro (15), or Poland (13).   Everyone is watching how Hodgson does in the final 2 matches, both of which are at home, against Montenegro and Poland.  Will the play a 4-3-3 and dilute Rooney’s influence (he is not a lone striker).  Or, will they still to a more conventional 4-2-2.  Lots of opinions on England.  If they blow two home matches to secure qualification, it may just be Armageddon.  I mean, English coach?  Italian coach?  We are all tired of the excuses.

Group I

Spain and France are tied (14) atop the group but Spain has a game in hand.  France hosts Finland (9) while Spain hosts Belarus and Georgia.  Spain looks like good money to secure automatic while Lex Blues will have to go through a playoff.

CONMEBOL (South America):

The question in this group is who will be forced to play their way in in a playoff versus automatic qualification.  CONMEBOL get 4.5 places (plus Brazil).  Here is the table, with a max of 6 points remaining for most teams, watch the battle for 5th place.

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
Argentina 14 8 5 1 30 11 29
Colombia 14 8 2 4 22 9 26
Chile 14 8 0 6 24 21 24
Ecuador 14 6 4 4 18 14 22
Uruguay 14 6 4 4 22 22 22
Venezuela 15 5 4 6 13 19 19
Peru 14 4 2 8 15 22 14
Bolivia 15 2 5 8 16 29 11
Paraguay 14 3 2 9 15 28 11

World Cup Qualifiers Recap and American Hypocrisy

Last Friday started another round of World Cup Qualifying matches.  They resume tomorrow during this international break from league play.  Here is a summary a Friday’s action and a preview of tomorrow’s:

CONCACAF: Update on the HEX

Standings here.

In case you haven’t heard, this round of the CONCACAF playoffs is referred to as the HEX.  Group play consisted of three groups of four.  Two teams from each group advanced to the HEX round.  The HEX is a 6-team round where everyone plays each other home and away.  The top 3 teams qualify for the World Cup Finals in Brazil and the 4th placed team will play the Oceania winner (New Zealand) in a playoff series for the last spot.

Going into Friday, the US had zero points, Honduras three, and everyone else (teams…) had one.  The US hosted Costa Rica in Denver Friday night.  The game, a must win, was played in a blizzard.  The US secured an early game and held on for the win.  Lots of story lines coming out of this one.  Costa Rica is appealing the result of the game stating that it should not have been played.  Americans, by and large, are aghast at such a position.  The Costa Ricans are getting blasted by the American press and airwaves, but, you have to ask, if we were down 0-1 in that game, would we have wanted the game to continue past the half?  I think we all know the answer to that question.  We have become great at crying foul when it serves our purpose, and eerily quiet when it doesn’t.

On Tuesday, the USMNT travel to Mexico City in a must win game for Mexico, who, after two games have only 2 points.  We secured a result there last summer, but I expect this will be a tad tougher.  In other games, HEX leader Honduras, who drew with Mexico at home on Friday after being down 0-2, travel to Panama, who has drawn even against both Jamaica and Costa Rica.  Jamaica travel to Costa Rica after having drawn with both Mexico and, last Friday, with Panama. Here are some news pieces:

FIFA confirm protest by Costa Rica

Mexico faces must win game vs US

Grant Wahl defends game result 

UEFA Update

Standings here.

UEFA’s much more onerous road to the World Cup Finals continued last Friday too.  Groups and standings are here.  SoccerThought is following Belgium, who won away from home, and sit atop Group A (tied with Croatia).  Only the winners of the Groups are automatically in, the eight best runners up (of 9 groups) go to a playoff where 4 more teams are added bringing the UEFA total to 13 teams in Brazil.

Group A

Belgium and Croatia are tied with 13 points each.  Belgium host Macedonia and Croatia travel to Wales.

Group B

Italy has 10 points, Bulgaria 9 and Denmark and Czech Republic, always strong teams, have only 5.  Denmark host Bulgaria in an interesting match while the Czech Republic goes to Armenia and Italy travel to Malta.

Group C

Germany, a Word Cup favorite, is running away with the group with 13 points.  Sweden, Austria, and Ireland follow with 8, 7, and 7 points respectively.  Only two matches tomorrow with the best being Ireland hosting Austria.

Group D

Holland is running away with this group collecting max points (15 points in 5 games).  Hungary and Romania are vying for the playoff spot with 10 points each.  Turkey is underachieving with 6 points.  Interesting match tomorrow pits Turkey hosting Hungary while Holland hosts Romania — could Turkey rebound?  Will Hungary separate from Romania?

Group E

The Swiss lead the group but there is little difference between #1 and #4 Norway, with only 3 points separating the two.   No matches tomorrow.

Group F

Russia is leading the group with 12 points from 4 matches while Israel and Portugal only show 8 points from 5 matches.  Is the golden age of Portugal going to end without a major trophy?  Israel and Portugal are both in action tomorrow away from their home — who can get the three points?

Group G

Bosnia-Herz. sit atop the group with 13 points and Greece trails with 10.  No games tomorrow.

Group H 

This is the interesting one.  Montenegro are atop the group with 13 points while England have 11.  They play tomorrow at Montenegro.  This may be the best match of the day.  The Montenegro coach has called out the England squad, labeled them long-ballers and arrogant, and reminded everyone that they are on top of the group.

England are long-ballers.

Montegro to park bus with 2 Ferraris up front. 

Arrogant England running scared. 

You get the feeling that the English press are seizing on the Montenegro’s manager’s words to add some drama here. Can England get a result?  Will England be resorted to entering a playoff to qualify for the World Cup Finals?

Group I

Spain drew on Friday against Iceland.  No typo there.  France now sits atop the group 2 points clear of Spain (10 to 8).  In another huge, must-watch game, the two tangle tomorrow in France.

CONMEBOL (South America)

Group standings here.

The South American qualification tournament is in full swing.  The top 4 teams qualify (plus Brazil) and the 5th place team goes to a playoff.  As of now, it would be Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay, but there is only 3 to 4 points separating Paraguay (in last position) from Uruguay.  A touch over halfway through, there is still lots of possibilities.  A full slate of games (4) tomorrow, including the top 4 each against different opponents.  So, maybe there will be some turnover at the bottom of the standings.

Remember, the World Cup is not in 2014, it is now!  Here is a link of the television schedule for tomorrow’s games.