World Cup Qualifiers – How are the European groups shaping up?

by Dave Redden

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
 

Now that the domestic season is over I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the World Cup qualifying groups from the European theatre.  Here we look at all nine groups and try to determine who will be representing our continent in the biggest sporting event on the face of the earth next year.

Group One

Albania, Denmark, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Sweden

The favourites for this group before a ball was kicked was undoubtedly the Portuguese, but they have failed to find consistent form and find themselves currently in third place, seven points behind leaders Denmark and four behind Hungary with just four games left to play.  Portugal do have both the countries above them to play but, even with two wins, they will need some help to qualify as winners.

My Prediction: Denmark go through as winners, Portugal finish as runners-up.

Group 2

Greece, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova, Switzerland

To this day I have no idea how a Middle Eastern country like Israel are included in the European qualifiers but here they are!  This group is still pretty tight with Greece and Switzerland leading the way with 13 points from their six games and Latvia tucked in third place with 10 points.  Switzerland have to play both countries mentioned and they did beat both of them the first time around so I would feel that they are the favourites at this point.  It all may come down to the goal difference in this group with Greece holding that trump card as we stand.

My Prediction: Switzerland (winners), Greece (runners-up)

Group 3

Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Poland, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia

Another fairly tight race here with Northern Ireland currently in the second spot but having played a game more than their nearest rivals.  Slovakia lead the pack with England’s perennial spanner, Poland, in third.  Unfortunately, Northern Ireland’s remaining games are a bit of a rough ride and that will probably see the end of their World Cup campaign.

My Prediction:  Slovakia (winners), Poland (runners-up)

Group 4

Azerbaijan, Finland, Germany, Leichtenstein, Russia, Wales

Wednesday’s game between Finland and Russia could go a long way towards deciding final positions in this group with Germany looking a lock for the top spot.  After that game, Finland have the bottom three countries to play and that is a big advantage for them.  If they avoid defeat at the hands of Russia they go through to the playoffs.

My Prediction: Germany (winners), Finland (runners-up)

Group 5

Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia, Spain, Turkey

Spain, are proving their worth with an unblemished record after six games while Bosnia-Herzegovina are looking good in second.  As long as the Bosnians can avoid defeat at the hands of Turkey they should be good for the playoffs.

My Prediction:  Spain (winners), Bosnia-Herzegovina (runners-up)

Group 6

Andorra, Belarus, Croatia, England, Kazakhstan, Ukraine

Plenty of Eastern European representatives in this group with our beloved England.  As we all know, England are off to a great start with six victories to open their group account.  The real battle here is for second place with three countries still in with a shout.  Croatia should be the favourites over Belarus and Ukraine but these eastern countries can prove a bit of an enigma.  If there is going to be a surprise look for it coming in this group.

My Prediction: England (winners), Croatia (runners-up)

Group 7

Austria, Faroe Islands, France, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia

Lord, what would we give to see the French sat on their butts watching the World Cup from their couches next year?  Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen!  Currently sat in second place behind Serbia, they have a game in hand on them and two on third placed Lithuania.  With two games against the little Faroe Islands you have to feel that their goal difference will rise drastically as well as their points total.  That said, I feel that Serbia can hold on to take the group and France will have to play extra games to make South Africa next year.

My Prediction:  Serbia (winners), France (runners-up)

Group 8

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Italy, Montenegro, Republic of Ireland

The Irish had a huge letdown last Saturday when a soft goal by Bulgaria turned three points into one but they still sit comfortably in the second spot behind Italy.  I feel that Italy will take this group despite having two draws from their six games played so far.  The playoff spot will probably come down to how Ireland and Bulgaria fare against the Italians.

My Prediction:  Italy (winners),  Republic of Ireland (runners-up)

Group 9

FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland

The Tartan Army saw results go their way over the weekend and help strengthen their spot in second place.  With there being only five countries in this group only eight games are played and Scotland have taken 7 points from their five so far.  The Netherlands have a perfect record after six games and will take the group honours but the Scots should be able to play out their games with the results needed to make the playoff spot.

The Playoffs

Portugal, Greece, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Republic of Ireland, Scotland

Here’s where the fun starts!  Because there are nine groups and only eight playoff countries are needed one runner-up will lose out.  Also, because there are only five teams in Group Nine, the other group runners-up will have their records against the bottom placed team expunged for this exercise.  With that in mind I’ve selected the eight teams above to progress:

Portugal, France, Croatia, Republic of Ireland

At this point it becomes a blind draw with two-leg games to determine those countries that progress to South Africa.  Obviously I have no idea how the draw will break down but here are my four to advance from the eight I chose.

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  • dexylongshot

    I’d absolutely love it if Portugal don’t cut the mustard!

  • James

    There’s also one shock and that shock will be France faling to qualify. Boasnia to get to the semi finals

  • Dan Church
  • dexylongshot

    Me too!, they are saying on Talksport it may be played behind closed due to fears for security. I can see their point, 80’000 fans trying to squeeze onto half a dozen main line trains, it would be chaos, fighting, crushing, over spill on the platforms. What hurts the most is this will give our World Cup bid a kick in the nuts, imagine the other nations pointing this out. All the wedge the FA eventually spent on the worlds most expensive rolling roof that doesn’t roll and they can’t even sort out transport links. Another example of the FA’s incompetence.

  • dexylongshot

    Sorry, that was meant to say “Closed doors” on the 1st line above. Who’s incompetent now?!

  • Tef1on

    Press conference saying the game will go ahead they will open doors early but there will be no assistance to transport. Basically get there yourself! But refunds are being given to anyone who applies with a valid ticket.

    This is looking great considering Seb Blatter is at the game tonight. This is a great way to enforce our world cup bid!

  • Tef1on

    Oh also Overground trains will NOT stop at Wembley overground station tomorrow

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    what’s wrong with you lot, use a bloody push bike! they do that in China!

  • dexylongshot

    Sepp must be pissing himself, the perfect excuse to chuck a spanner into our bid. Wouldn’t it be nice if the FA dug deep and offered the Tube strikers some wedge to run the 100 or so trains it would take to sort it out. What what it cost 100’000 grand? Even if it cost 1 million to bring in some bounty hunter tube driver types, it would save face.

  • Dan Church

    Push bikes are lethal contraptions. Almost lost me leg in one once. !!!!

  • Dave

    It really would be nice to see Portugal and France sat on the sofa watching next year’s World Cup but I honestly can’t see it happening!

    DAVE

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    France are due another slip up, they were woeful in the last World Cup yet still got to the final, obviously learnt that from the Germans!

  • Tef1on

    The French need to sack Monsieur Dominech, Those thick dyed bushy eyebrows and grey hair are so 60’s, just like their playing style at the moment.

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