European teams set to seal their World Cup spot

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With the next round of World Cup qualifiers taking place on Friday, several teams still harbour dreams of being present at the show piece event in Brazil next summer.

In Europe, the winners of the nine qualifying groups automatically seal a place at the World Cup, leaving the eight best runners up to play-off for the final four spots.

At present only Italy and Holland have won their group, but on Friday five other teams could clinch their spot, with Group's G and I being the only ones that cannot be mathematically resolved before the final set of fixtures on Tuesday night.

We've decided to take a look at the front-runners in the remaining groups and work out what they need to be sure of their place at the biggest event in the footballing calendar - The FIFA World Cup.

Group A - Belgium

Marc Wilmots' team have the luxury of playing their nearest competitors on Friday night, meaning qualification really is in their own hands. 

A trip to Croatia will be by no means an easy game, but with Romelu Lukaku firing on all cylinders and Thibaut Courtois in stunning form in goal, Belgium will be confident.

A point will put Belgium on 23 points, giving them an uncatchable five-point lead with just one game to go.

Group C - Germany

Germany go into their match with Republic of Ireland on Friday night five points ahead of second-placed Sweden.

Zlatan Ibrahimovich will be confident he can inspire Sweden to a win on home soil against Austria but they may not be enough.

If Mesut Ozil and co. can match the Swede's result they'll have their spot at the World Cup in the bag.

Group E - Switzerland

Switzerland supremo, Ottmar Hitzfeld, is one of the world's most respected managers, but it wouldn't take a genius to win this group.

The fact footballing minnows Iceland are sitting in second place tells you everything you have to know about group E, and although Norway and Slovenia may have expected to put up more of a fight, this was always going to be Switzerland's group.

A win in Albania on Friday night will guarantee qualification, however a draw should be enough as it would leave Iceland needing to win their final two fixtures by a total of nine goals.

Group F - Russia

Despite Portugal possessing the talents of arguably the greatest European footballer of all time, it's Russia who can finalise their place in Brazil.

Ronaldo's miraculous talents haven't been enough to drag Portugal to qualification yet and under Fabio Capello, Russia have quietly gone about putting themselves in pole position.

If Israel manage to go to Portugal and upset the hosts by grabbing a surprise victory, Capello's men could clinch a spot in Brazil by winning away in Luxembourg.

Interestingly, Russia kick-off over an hour before their Portuguese counterparts, meaning if they've got the result they require, they'll be able to watch on in hope as Ronaldo's men look to avoid a shock defeat.

Group H - England

You wouldn't believe it with the nerves that seem to be dominating the fans and media alike, but Roy Hodgson's men can actually seal their World Cup spot in the first round of this double-header.

Wembley will host Montenegro on Friday and Poland on Tuesday but, should Poland do England a favour on Friday night, Tuesday's fixture could well be irrelevant.

If England take all three points on Friday and Ukraine slump to defeat at home against Poland, World Cup qualification will be sealed. 

In the interest of equality, we've decided to explain the situation in the other two groups.

In Group G, Bosnia and Herzegovina sit level on points with Greece at the top. The two teams have already faced off twice meaning they will not do battle in the final two games. Both will be hopeful of picking up maximum points, but with Bosnia having a +20 goal difference compared to Greece's +5, Edin Dzeko and co. are favourites to win the group.

The final group, Group I, features World and European champions Spain, as well as a talented, though under-performing, France. Should Spain beat Belarus on Friday they will go three points clear of the French, who have played a game more due to Group I only possessing five teams, with a superior goal-difference. However, their qualification will not be mathematically certain until the final game, where they simply need to match France's result.

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