International football is rarely pulsating or nerve-racking, outside of the knock-out phases of major competitions, which has lead certain people to call for an end to events such as International friendlies.
Naturally this is ridiculous, as they are necessary for the managers to get to know the team and for the players, who often come from very different clubs, to get to know each other. And of course there can be no high honour for a player than to represent their country on a world stage.
However, we can understand where this thinking comes from, especially when looking at the qualifying stages for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Indeed, when looking at the various groups, they are dominated by the teams you would expect to do so, with certain teams doing it in a manner typical of themselves.
In groups B and C, Italy and Germany are dominating the standings by seven and five points with only two and one draws respectively.
These results are in no way surprising, as the two teams are, and have always been, powerhouses in Europe. But it would all the same be enjoyable to see other unlikely teams do well, something that hasn’t happened since 2004 when Greece lifted the European trophy.
However, the two groups that show this reliability of results in international football are H and I.
In the first, England are staying true to their traditions of leading the groups by very small margins, backed up by some flaky performances against teams such as Ukraine and Moldova, which you would have expected them to win easily.
In group I, Spain, who are easily one of the best teams in the world, have dipped in form recently. But they still lead the group with 14 points from six games, including the two draws that show their problems of late.
They are joined at the top of the group by France, who, despite their difficulty to reach meaningful position in knock-out competitions, are always there or thereabouts when it comes to qualifying and are therefore not a surprising addition to top to positions in the group.
There is very little to be done about this, as there is no denying that some international teams have better quality than others and a better structured Football Organisation than others, but it would all the same be nice to see an underdog come out and win something.
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