footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Archive for the ‘world cup qualifiers’ Category

Favorite Moments from World Cup Qualifying

It’s true that I usually roll my eyes and get annoyed when World Cup qualifying matches come around. But now that the tournament’s almost here, I can reflect on my favorite moments from the qualifiers.

Mexico advancing…thanks to the United States. Spare a thought for Panama; they were just minutes away from qualifying for the World Cup when the U.S. equalized thanks to Graham Zusi and saved the World Cup hopes of arch rivals, Mexico. That split screen of Mexico falling 2-1 to Costa Rica, and the U.S. defeating Panama very late in their game, is my most surreal – and most memorable – moment from this cycle of World Cup qualifying.

Cristiano Ronaldo 4, Sweden 2. I was following the second leg of the Sweden-Portugal playoff while at work, and periodically checking the score on my phone. Needless to say, my jaw dropped when I saw that CR7 had scored a hat-trick in Stockholm.

Return of Les Bleus: Down 0-2 against Ukraine after the first leg of their playoff, France staged a big comeback to book their spot in Brazil – almost erasing the memory of their awful 2010 World Cup.

World Cup 2014: The Teams are Set

With the playoffs concluded, we now know which teams will compete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as well as those that won’t (sorry Sweden and Egypt!)

A certain Cristiano Ronaldo lit up the playoffs and sent Portugal to the finals with a memorable hat trick performance against Sweden. Some may call Portugal a one-man team, but if that man is CR7, should they even care?

In the 8 months between now and the start of the tournament on June 12, fans of the qualified countries will veer between giddy optimism and morose despair about their teams’ prospects – depending on things like player injuries (which hopefully will be few and far between) and friendly results.

Obviously, it’s too early to say who’s a favorite or who will win (the Group Stage draw takes place December 6). At this point, though, it’s time to just enjoy the fact that your team’s qualified (or lament that it did not). It’s also key to remember that a lot can happen between now and June 12.

Now is a Good Time to Take a Deep Breath

World Cup Qualifying is winding down. To date, 21 teams – Brazil (hosts), Japan, Australia, Iran, South Korea, Italy, The Netherlands, Argentina, Costa Rica, the United States, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, England, Spain, Chile, Honduras and Ecuador – have qualified for the 2014 tournament. Teams around the world – including France, Uruguay, Sweden and Mexico – will compete in playoffs to fill the remaining 11 slots.

I will be happy when it’s over and even happier when the WC group stage draw is revealed on December 6 (That’s also when I’ll feel comfortable predicting anything about the tournament).

Until then, fans of already-qualified teams can relax, fans of playoff-bound teams can hope for the best, and fans of the teams that will miss out on Brazil 2014 can lament that fact and think about what could have been over a few beers (I’ll join even though my team’s already qualified because I like beer).

This lull is also a good time to remember that there are 9 months between now and the start of the tournament on June 12. In that space of time, any number of factors can affect a team’s prospects, including player injuries and teams’ loss of form. It is a little early to declare which teams will and will not be successful.

So calm down, everyone. The real competition is still quite a ways off.

Oh Joy – More International Football

Another round of international matchdays is upon us, and yeah, my enthusiasm for these interruptions in the club football calendar is nonexistent.

One irony of my football fandom is that although I became a fan of the sport via an international tournament (the 2010 World Cup), I now dread the internationals that crop up throughout the year.

Yes, World Cup Qualifiers and continental  competition matches (Africa Cup of Nations, AFC Asian Cup, etc.) are necessary, but meaningless friendlies irritate me the most.

All internationals have the potential to cause player injuries, further disrupting the flow of the club season. What’s more, the vast majority of these international matches are drab affairs, IMO, compared to what’s on offer in the club game. Boo.

No surprise then that I’m not much looking forward to the round of friendlies taking place Oct. 11-15

Indeed, when I hear the words “International Break,” the only reaction I have is this one.

The fact that there also are World Cup Qualifiers taking place during this break doesn’t offer much solace. Over this past summer, I realized that, while I want to watch the World Cup, I don’t want to watch World Cup Qualifying.

At the end of the day, though, I am a football fan, so I will follow the internationals, keeping more of an eye on the competitive matches than the friendlies.

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