Now as you wonder what you have to look forward to after England played two extremely boring 1-0 victories over Slovenia and Lithuania in the World Cup Qualifiers to ensure their qualification, well in judging by those performances, not much to be fair. But, alas in the summer of 2018, the greatest sports spectacle in the world is upon us. Indeed, the World Cup, the tournament which brings the whole world together will be back to bring excitement to men, and dread to most women of the whole world, all in one summer. So, this raises the question: who will be and won’t be going, and who’s still in with a slim chance? Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Last night, there was a big battle of nerves and guile, between Wales and the Republic of Ireland, with Gareth Bale out injured, it was always going to be an uphill struggle against the tactical genius of Martin O’Neill, so let’s see this drama which sent Wales’ hopes of a World Cup come crashing down to reality. Ouch!
Wayne Hennessey gifted the ball to Ashely Williams with a throw, which was intercepted by Hendricks, and then came the crushing half volley by McLean to seal Ireland’s two match playoff game to carry on their dream of a World Cup tournament in Russia. A real sucker blow to all the work of Gareth Bale and the small country of Wales, but that’s football, always full of drama and excitement.
Now speaking of first time entrances into the World Cup, Iceland carried on their form from the European Championships, complete with their Viking clap, topping their group with a 2-0 win over Kosovo. Watch!
Now that Iceland vs. Kosovo match wasn’t an amazing one, but they still qualified top of their group in the WCQ’s, resulting in their first successful World Cup qualification in their countries history.
Iceland absolutely played their hearts out. Meanwhile, battling for second place in the group, it was the Ukraine vs. Croatia for that coveted next best playoff spot.
Croatia won 0-2 and it wasn’t a surprise given some of their star players like Rakitic, Modric, Perisic and now Andrej Kramaric who will no doubt be on people’s radars from now on, just to name a few. Bottom line: Croatia are in the playoff position. Result!
Now then, who else has already qualified out of the 32 teams? Well, here’s seventeen of them to get your pulses racing. You may just be surprised with who you see on here.
Immediately what sticks out as not the norm, aside from Brazil being there with Neymar Jr. spearheading their campaign, is that Egypt qualified! Look at the joy from this father as he realises that Egypt will qualify for their first World Cup since 1990 in Italy. Truly a beautiful thing.
They beat Congo 2-1, with a 95th minute penalty by Mohammed Salah, sealing their ticket to the World Cup. It meant a lot to the country of Egypt, that’s for sure! Other notable surprises include Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica, who aren’t strangers to the World Cup, but they don’t always get there.
Now let’s jump to another continent, South America, where the final qualifications will be decided early on Wednesday morning, or Tuesday evening if you’re in South America yourself. Argentina may plausibly be set to miss out on the World Cup altogether, unless they can beat Ecuador, or if they draw or lose, they have to rely on the outcomes of Colombia, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Take a look at this most disastrous position of Argentina in their World Cup qualifying campaign, with Lionel Messi and co. leaving it down to the wire to get to Russia. If they win against Ecuador, they can at least guarantee themselves a playoff spot, if not more.
Lionel Messi and Argentina have had a terrible qualifying campaign, and a lot is riding on this one match against Ecuador, similarly for Colombia who face Peru, whilst Paraguay hope for a win against Venezuela, so it’s all to play for in the CONMEBOL.
Additionally, in the CONCACAF, the USA can all but assure qualification if they beat Trinidad & Tobago away on Wednesday morning, whilst the Kangaroos of Australia are embroiled in a playoff against Syria. Can Australia overcome Syria, or will they choke at the last hurdle? This match takes place early Tuesday morning for any Socceroos in Europe wishing to watch the match.
Elsewhere, tonight sees Holland play a crunch match against Sweden, but even with a win against the Swedes, this will not see them go through, so it looks like there’ll be no Holland at the World Cup next summer. Serves them right, for being terrible in qualification.
So, there you have it! A comprehensive look at who’s going and who’s not going on to next year’s world cup, as well as who’s still in with a chance to qualify for the World Cup in Russia of 2018.
Will you be watching, placing some bets, or just looking forward to the World Cup next summer? Whatever you do or not, expect football to become apart of your life in the summer of 2018, regardless… Whether you like it or not, but we most definitely love it here at Brainstain!
Over and out!
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Featured Photo Credit: US Soccer