The focus of the world of football will be placed on International matches as countries seek to book their tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The next two weeks will witness the various countries across Europe deciding their respect fate with two matches as well as those who will go into play-offs. Holland are the most likely “big football nation” to use this opportunity to get to the play offs. Spain and France will be looking forward to top their respective groups and get a straight qualification.
The Blues of France lead group A with 17 points and, unless surprised, will qualify directly after this first phase. France have a single point advantage over second, Sweden, and should not miss it after the stumble in the last game played in September against Luxembourg, where they tied for zero.
Sweden is the main threat to assault the leadership of the group. The problem of the Nordic country is his party of the next 10 of October, where will be measured to Holland. The Netherlands relies on themselves to get into the play-offs, if they achieve full victories and have a bigger goal difference Sweden would become second in groups.
Bulgaria has mathematical options for the second position, but it is very complicated that there is a debacle of Sweden and Holland at the same time . Luxembourg and Belarus are already out of the World Cup.
The current champions of Europe, Portugal depends on themselves to achieve the direct pass to Russia. Switzerland leads the group after making full victories and defeating Portugal in the first game of the qualifying phase. The faces will be seen again in the last game, on October 10, and if the team captained by Cristiano Ronaldo ensure they get the goals coming, probably they can take control of the group thanks to the difference of goals, nine more than the Swiss.
Hungary, Faroe Islands, Andorra and Latvia do not play anything . Only the Andorran could dismantle the hopes of Portugal to get first group if it manages to draw a draw. Unlikely thing after the 6-0 that fit almost a year ago.
Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Norway and San Marino are already aware that they have lost their tickets to go to Russia next summer. And unless the unexpected happens in the up coming matches, the current World Cup and Confederations Cup Champions will top the group and qualify the two weeks of FIFA days for international matches or they could be relegated to the second position. Two points are worth to them for the mathematical classification, although with one would be assured, since they have an enviable goal difference. Northern Ireland are assured of second place, but need to keep adding to be one of the eight best seconds.
This group is one of the tightest in Europe. Three teams have mathematical options to take first place and four to finish second. Only Georgia and Moldova do not have the chance to qualify for the World Cup , but fortunately for them, they will be judges for the outcome of the group.
Serbia is the leader with 18 points, pursued by Wales with 14 . A victory ensures the Serbs direct access. The Welsh have lost their star Gareth Bale, who has abandoned the call. They are aware of the difficulty of the first place and concentrate on maintaining the second. The biggest problem for Wales is Ireland, which has one point less, and will face in the last game. Austria’s chances are very low . They would need to win everything and to win, while Wales and Ireland lose their first match and tie in the second.
Poland lead the group with 19 points, pursued by Montenegrins and Danes with 16 points. But the Polish together with Montenegro and Denmark are fighting for tickets to Russia . Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan are already out. . The latter two are tied to points and goal difference, although will decide this Thursday when they see the faces. In addition, Montenegro will face in the last day against Poland. Two very complicated matches that could elevate them to the lead or leave them without any World Cup option.
England looks set for Russia as they face Slovenia on Thursday night. The are at an advantage of five and six points ahead of their pursuers. The obstacle of the English is Slovenia, who lie third with 14 points, and a victory would send them directly to Russia. Otherwise, they would be worth two draws.
In the second position is Slovakia with 15 points. Their games are against Scotland, fourth with 14 points, that fights to get into the playoffs, and against Malta. Lithuania and the Maltese team are the only ones with no options.
The Spanish Roja Furia know they have put the impasse in Catalonia behind them in order to book a ticket for Russia. The only stone is Albania, who needs to win everything and Italy does not win anything to be able to get into the playoffs. To do so, the Spanish team will have to win in Alicante on Friday. Israel, with no options, will be the second game for Lopetegui and his charges.
Italy, waiting for a Spanish trip, will have to play against Macedonia and Albania. In the event of a defeat of the Spanish National Team which is less likely and the ‘squadra azurra’ win everything, it would be Spain that would continue in first position by goal difference , which is 17, practically an insurmountable distance. Liechtenstein is the group’s sixth choice, which has yet to score anything.
This group is already decide because Belgium already has the ticket for Russia. Roberto Martinez have 22 points, only conceded a draw. What is at stake in the group now is the playoff. Bosnia (14 points), Greece (13), Cyprus (10) and Estonia (8) have mathematical options to get second place . Only Gibraltar, with zero points, is out.
This Group is very open and tight. Only Finland and Kosovo are out. Croatia and Iceland, both with 16 points, are favorites for the first place; Turkey and Ukraine, with 14, are lurking . There will be many clashes between those four teams that will mark the future of the group, whose future will be open until the last game. Undisputed the Turkey-Iceland that could remove from the fight to one of the two or both, in case of a tie.