Is your secondary school football team suffering a disappointing start to the season? Are you still recovering from the announcement of the annual budget? Now we may not be able to lower the gas prices or raise your team’s position in the league table. But what we can provide is a welcomed distraction from it all stemming from the most unlikely source: The international break! Yes the international break is here again and it is actually one to look forward to!
In Group A, France are clinging to a narrow lead being 1 point ahead of Sweden going into their final 2 games of the group stage. Should Les Bleus drop points over the next couple of matches, the Swedes could overtake them forcing a playoff to determine whether France might even make it to Russia in 2018. Given that France are arguably strong contenders for next year’s tournament, this could be a fascinating twist in the World Cup storyline. As is the case with the Dutch national team who look set to miss out on the competition altogether unless they can manage a remarkable turnaround in their final group games.
Qualification for Portugal could go down to the wire as they trail the impressive Swiss national team who top Group B with a 100% record. Interestingly enough, Switzerland and Portugal will face off in the last round of the group which could prove to be a crucial decider as a win for Portugal in both of their final 2 games could see them surpass the Swiss on goal difference.
Perhaps less glamorous but no less exciting is Group I where Turkey, Ukraine, Iceland and Croatia are all separated by just 2 points which is bound to create a nerve-wrecking finish to the lengthy qualifying process. Rivals Wales and the Republic of Ireland should also engage in a thriller as they contend for a playoff spot in group D.
Games to watch:
Bulgaria vs France / France vs Belarus
Portugal vs Switzerland
Ukraine vs Croatia / Turkey vs Iceland
Wales vs Ireland
In South America:
Now here things are really interesting: Brazil have breezed through their campaign by already securing qualification to World Cup 2018 with 11 wins and only 1 loss thus far. Uruguay lead the chasing pack with 27 points closely followed by Colombia on 26 points. Surprise package, Peru, round up the last automatic qualification spot with 24 points but Argentina sit just behind them on goal difference in a playoff spot. Alexis Sanchez’s Chile remain 6th on 23 points meaning that just 4 points separate 6th from 2nd with bigger names like Chile and Argentina risking missing out on World Cup 2018.
Games to Watch:
Argentina vs Peru / Ecuador vs Argentina
Brazil vs Chile
Peru vs Colombia
Mexico are well on their way to Russia whilst qualification also seems a certainty for Costa Rica. Panama, Honduras and the United States will battle it out for the automatic qualification spot as well as the playoff spot with just 1 point separating all three teams. Unfortunately, Trinidad and Tobago will not have a chance to qualify for this World Cup.
Games to Watch:
USA vs Panama
Trinidad & Tobago vs USA