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FIFA World Cup playoffs begin Wednesday; Mexico, Uruguay favored … but on the spot

Nov 12, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT

2014 World Cup

Mexico has done this before, positioning its kickoff for an afternoon start – the better to exploit all its advantages of playing at Azteca Stadium. Who could blame them? All is fair in love and $650 million World Cup berths.

Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. locally (or 3:30 p.m. ET); the game can be seen on ESPN, Univision or Univision Deportes.

Why get started during the day when more Mexicans could take in an evening kickoff time, which is more typical of a mid-week match? New Zealand players will struggle to deal with the thin air (altitude is over 7,000 feet) as it is. All the better if they also must deal with the hottest possible afternoon temperatures, not to mention a time of day when smog levels reach their ickiest.

All of this is after the All Whites traveled halfway around the world to arrive over the weekend into Mexico City.

More on the match itself Wednesday at ProSoccerTalk on Wednsday.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that Jordan and Uruguay also begin their home-and-away playoff; Wednesday’s first leg is in Amman, Jordan. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is warning anyone who will listen that Jordan cannot be taken lightly by his country.

But the oddsmakers say: uh, go ahead and take them lightly. If you know a guy who knows a guy, the odds you’ll get on Jordan getting past Suarez, Edinson Cavani and the rest of Uruguay’s talented team, never mind that wobbly World Cup qualifying effort, land anywhere from 9-1 to 16-1.

Them ain’t good odds.

More on Jordan is here.

The European playoffs (also home-and-away sets with a berth in Brazil on the line) begin Friday. As a reminder, here are those matchups:

  • Greece-Romania
  • Portugal-Sweden
  • Ukraine-France
  • Iceland-Croatia
  1. ndnut - Nov 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    I’m most looking forward to Portugal-Sweden (behind the bugger of our region, watching El Tri try their hardest to make a World Cup berth happen. Go Kiwis!).

  2. danielofthedale - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    Ukraine-France and Croatia-Iceland the tie I will be watching the closest as I think it has the biggest gap in talent between the two sides. I think a Ukraine and Iceland win would be very good as it gives the US two much more beatable opponents in the Non-Seeded European Pot.

  3. hildezero - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    I think Mexico is trying to copy US Soccer’s strategy by taking advantage of the opposing team with things on their side. Like making the crowd show up to the game at a right time and the smog.

  4. futbolhistorian - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Start time is all about the smog. It doesn’t get hot in Mexico City this time of the year.

  5. footballer4ever - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    Come on, All Whites! Show them All Blacks who is the big boys in New Zealand! Go Kiwis! Go down, Mexico!

  6. corryszam - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    50 degrees 50% humidity over 7000 feet above sea level and in the soot of Mexico City. Let’s go ALL WHITES!!

  7. heynyc61 - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Ignorant people think Mexico City is hot and humid….. It rarely gets into the high 70’s. An occasional 81 or 82 day… The song situation has improved a bit… And it gets pretty chilly in the evening this time of year

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