Sep 10, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT
For many of Europe’s giants, the world’s easiest qualifying path to Brazil 2014 began on Friday. Only in UEFA will you see road teams win qualifiers 8-1 and 5-0 in the tournament’s final phase. In other regions, those results would be left in the preliminary rounds.
But in Europe, a huge number of teams (53) are spread thin over an exhausting number of groups (nine) to compete for too many World Cup spots (13). The result is a primrose path of some of the top seed, the beneficiaries of a watered down qualifying processes more useful as a display of teams’ quality while they pile up FIFA rankings points.
- [GROUP E] Two goals within a minute of each other just after halftime gave Switzerland a 2-0 victory over 2010 World Cup-qualifiers Slovenia. Nineteen-year-old Granit Xhaka got the opener, potentially a sign Swtzerland’s youth are ready to make an impact this cycle.
- [GROUP F] The Fabio Capello era of Russian soccer got off to a very Capello start. Goal in the first half. Goal in the second. Russia opens with a 2-0 home win over Northern Ireland.
- [GROUP G] Bosnia and Herzegovina romped through Liechtenstein, 8-1. Vedad Ibisevic and Edin Dzeko each had hat tricks for a team which, drawn into Greece’s group, will have designs on finishing first.
- [GROUP H] England pasted Moldova 5-0 while their Tuesday opponent, Ukraine, had the day off. Already without the services of Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll, England will be without John Terry in London on Tuesday, the Chelsea captain having picked up an ankle injury.
- [GROUP B] Despite two goals from Pablo Osvaldo, Italy was drawn in Bulgaria. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but with Denmark and the Czech Republic in their group, the Azzurri has one of the more pothole-ridden paths to Brazil.
- [GROUP E] Iceland winning 2-0 at home over Norway isn’t an earth-shattering result, but Norway was the top-seeded team in one of the weakest UEFA groups I can remember. Iceland was ranked sixth.
- [GROUP F] Israel’s already losing their chance to take advantage of any Portugal or Russia slips, disappointing with a 1-1 draw at Azerbaijan.
- [GROUP B] The Czechs got a very valuable draw in Denmark. In all likelihood, those two teams will be competing for second in Italy’s group. Now, if the Czech Republic can get a win on Mar. 23 in Prague’s return leg, they’ll be in the drivers seat for a playoff spot.
- [GROUP C] Germany won 3-0 at home to the Faroe Islands, but against one of the worst teams in the confederation, the group favorites disappointed, being up only 1-0 at halftime. Joachim Löw wants his team to play with more intensity without the ball. It appears the new style will be a process.
- [GROUP C] In the same group, Ireland needed 89th minute and stoppage time goals to win at Kazakhstan, a result that has to make Austria and Sweden feel better about their chances to snag second place.
- [GROUP D] The Netherlands did not look good against Turkey, the match providing a good example of how easy some of these groups can be for the top teams. The Dutch replicated their Euro 2012 form but still posted a 2-0 victory over the group’s second-best team. Ho hum.
- [GROUP F] Portugal gave up the first goal to Luxembourg on their way to a 2-1 victory. It’s almost as if they’re shooting for the playoffs.
- [GROUP I] Didier Deschamps would have probably liked a more resounding victory to open qualifying, but Abou Diaby’s 20th minute goal was all he got in his competitive debut with France, downing Finland 1-0 in Helsinki.
- Group A: Croatia 1-0 Macedonia; Wales 0-2 Belgium; Scotland 0-0 Serbia
- Group B: Malta 0-1 Armenia; Bulgaria 2-2 Italy; Denmark 0-0 Czech Republic
- Group C: Kazakhstan 1-2 Ireland; Germany 3-0 Faroe Islands
- Group D: Estonia 0-2 Romania; Andorra 0-5 Hungary; Netherlands 2-0 Turkey
- Group E: Albania 3-1 Cyprus; Slovenia 0-2 Switzerland; Iceland 2-0 Norway
- Group F: Luxembourg 1-2 Portugal; Russia 2-0 Northern Ireland; Azerbaijan 1-1 Israel
- Group G: Liechtenstein 1-8 Bosnia and Herzegovina; Lithuania 1-1 Slovakia; Latvia 1-2 Greece
- Group H: Montenegro 2-2 Poland; Moldova 0-5 England
- Group I: Finland 0-1 France; Georgia 1-0 Belarus
First place qualifies for Brazil 2014. The top eight second place teams do into playoffs to determine the four remaining qualifiers. Records are list games played, points, goal difference (GP/Pts/GD).
- Group A: Belgium (1/3/+2), Croatia (1/3/+1), Serbia (1/1/0), Scotland (1/1/0), Macedonia (1/0/-1), Wales (1/0/-2)
- Group B: Armenia (1/3/+1), Italy (1/1/0), Czech Republic (1/1/0), Denmark 1/1/0), Bulgaria (1/1/0), Malta (1/0/-1)
- Group C: Germany (1/3/+3), Ireland (1/3/+1), Austria (0/0/0), Sweden (0/0/0), Kazakhstan (1/0/-1), Faroe Islands (1/0/-3)
- Group D: Hungary (1/3/+5), Romania (1/3/+2), Netherlands (1/3/+2), Turkey (1/0/-2), Estonia (1/0/-2), Andorra (1/0/-5)
- Group E: Switzerland (1/3/+2), Iceland (1/3/+2), Albania (1/3/+2), Cyprus (1/0/-2), Norway (1/0/-2), Slovenia (1/0/-2)
- Group F: Russia (1/3/+2), Portugal (1/3/+1), Azerbaijan (1/1/0), Israel (1/1/0), Luxembourg (1/0/-1), Northern Ireland (1/0/-2)
- Group G: Bosnia and Herzegovina (1/3/+7), Greece (1/3/+1), Lithuania (1/1/0), Slovakia (1/1/0), Latvia (1/0/-1), Liechtenstein (1/0/-7)
- Group H: England (1/3/+5), Montenegro (1/1/0), Poland (1/1/0), San Marino (0/0/0), Ukraine (0/0/0), Moldova (1/0/-5)
- Group I: France (1/3/+1), Georgia (1/3/+1), Spain (0/0/0), Finland (1/0/-1), Belarus (1/0/-1)
All games to be played on Tuesday.
- Group A: Serbia vs. Wales, Belgium vs. Croatia, Scotland vs. Macedonia
- Group B: Bulgaria vs. Armenia, Italy vs. Malta
- Group C: Austria vs. Germany, Sweden vs. Kazakhstan
- Group D: Romania vs. Andorra, Turkey vs. Estonia, Hungary vs. Netherlands
- Group E: Cyprus vs. Iceland, Norway vs. Slovenia, Switzerland vs. Albania
- Group F: Israel vs. Russia, Northern Ireland vs. Luxembourg, Portugal vs. Azerbaijan
- Group G: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Latvia, Slovakia vs. Liechtenstein, Greece vs. Lithuania
- Group H: England vs. Ukraine, Poland vs. Moldova, San Marino vs. Montenegro
- Group I: Georgia vs. Spain, France vs. Belarus
- Group A: Belgium vs. Croatia is Tuesday’s biggest game. If Belgium wins, they’re group favorites. If Croatia gets a result, they keep that mantle.
- Group B: Italy are still the favorites, while the Czechs have taken an early lead in the race of the playoff spot.
- Group C: Joachim Löw’s going to have a chance to see a lot of different players this cycle.
- Group D: Still on course for Netherlands-Turkey one-two.
- Group E: Switzerland’s the group favorite, especially after getting three road points Norway may not duplicate.
- Group F: It’s still too early to tell if Russia or Portugal should be favored to win this group, but three points in Ramat Gan would make a strong case for the Russians.
- Group G: We’re unlikely to learn more about Bosnia’s prospects to upend Greece or Slovakia’s chance to rekindle their 2012 form. The home teams should all have easy Tuesdays.
- Group H: England vs. Ukraine will settle any questions as to who’s the group’s best team. Few doubt it’s England, with Ukraine set to battle Poland for second place.
- Group I: Still Spain’s group to win, but France getting three points at their most dangerous threat leaves little doubt who will take second.
May 21, 2013, 8:02 PM EDT
Wait a minute … didn’t MLS commissioner Don Garber say there “is no Plan B …” beyond the Queens location?
May 21, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Well, phooey! Didn’t Dempsey just go through a summer of transfer instability?
May 21, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
This and that as the U.S. contingent preps to gather in Cleveland ahead of five matches over the next few weeks:
May 21, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT
The updated ordering in ProSoccerTalk’s ranking of Major League Soccer teams following 12 rounds of play:
Officials from MLS, Yankees, Manchester City and NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to speak tomorrow on expansion news
May 21, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
How very convenient that Manchester City just happens to be in the States for a brief two-game tour.
May 21, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
It’s really about two things, and not much else:
May 21, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
By forming NYC FC, City and the Yankees have created a ‘sister-club’ relationship – an innovative bond between a Premiership and MLS club.
May 21, 2013, 1:23 PM EDT
Early thoughts on the facility and the ripples of today’s big announcement on the 20th MLS franchise:
May 21, 2013, 11:45 AM EDT
By swapping Dzeko for Cavani, City can hamstring Manchester United and Chelsea, as both are rumored to be seeking a world-class striker.
It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team.
May 21, 2013, 11:16 AM EDT
The league’s 20th franchise will begin play in 2015:
May 21, 2013, 9:33 AM EDT
During his Premiership tenure Toure has proven himself a leader, captaining both the Gunners and the Citizens, as well as Cote d’Ivoire.
May 21, 2013, 8:37 AM EDT
Has Daniel Levy already forgotten about what happened when he tried to pin Luka Modric down with this ‘no sale’ line of bull?
May 20, 2013, 11:58 PM EDT
Expect this one to get worked out.
May 20, 2013, 11:23 PM EDT
If Real Madrid’s going to shake things up, Higuaín could do worse than land at The Emirates.
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
Four players were on the original list. None of them may end up at Stamford Bridge.
May 20, 2013, 8:13 PM EDT
Our sympathy continues to grow for a man in a bad spot.
May 20, 2013, 7:21 PM EDT
MLS will not have arrived until it has a high-profile feces incident.
May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
It probably won’t happen this summer, and if it does … I’m sure we’ll run that into the ground, too.
May 20, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT
For a moment, it looked like Milan had fired their coaching staff … via an open letter from a television show.
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