World Cup 2014 Qualifying


World Cup 2014: How The Qualifying Groups Stand As The Battle To Reach Brazil Hots Up

EUROPE

Qualified: Italy, Holland
It seems to be a formality for the likes of Spain, Germany and Switzerland. For those in a battle for the second place play-off position, France and Portugal will be the nations to avoid in November.

Group A
Belgium need to avoid a defeat in Croatia on Friday night to guarantee top spot, while Croatia need just a point to secure second-place. Should Croatia win, Belgium will need to win their final game against Macedonia in Brussels to be sure of finishing top. Serbia must hope Croatia lose their two remaining games to have any chance of qualifying.

Group B
Italy have already qualified for the World Cup as group winners. That leaves four teams, Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic and Armenia competing for second place. Second-placed Bulgaria, with 13 points, face Armenia and Czech Republic – who both have nine points – in their final two matches. Denmark are just one point behind Bulgaria and host Italy then Malta.

Group C
Germany need one more point from their remaining games against Ireland and Sweden to finish top of the group because of their vastly superior goal difference. Second place should be decided when Sweden host Austria on Friday night. Sweden just need to avoid defeat to make sure they reach the play-offs.

Group D
Holland have already booked their place in Brazil as group winners, but fight for second place will be intense with Hungary, Turkey and Romania all vying for a play-off place. Only two points separate them. Hungary and Turkey both still have to face Holland, which means Romania, who are fourth, could sneak past them if they beat both Estonia and Andorra.

Group E
Unbeaten Switzerland need only a point from games against Albania and Slovenia to top the group, leaving Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Albania scrapping to reach the play-offs. Iceland are currently second, but the team that wins their final two games will feel they have an excellent chance of qualifying.

Group F
Russia and Portugal are separated by a single point in first and second. Russia travel to Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, while Portugal entertain Israel and Luxembourg and will hope to capitalise if Fabio Capello’s side drop points. Israel need to win in Lisbon and hope Luxembourg can beat Portugal to have any chance of grabbing second place.

Group G
Bosnia-Herzegovnia and Greece have sewn up first and second place ahead of Slovakia and are level on points with 19 each. Greece have two home games against Slovakia and Liechtenstein, although the battle is likely to come down to the final match. Bosnia also face Liechtenstein at home, before travelling to Lithuania next week.

Group H
England will probably need to beat Montenegro and Poland to finish top. A win for Montenegro in London will put them in a strong position ahead of their final home game against Moldova. A Ukrainian victory over Poland on Friday will guarantee them at least a play-off place as they play San Marino in their last match, though the Poles could still qualify if they win.

Group I
Spain and France are level on points at the top of the group, but Spain have two games left to play compared to France’s one. Both are at home and the World Cup holders just need to beat either Belarus or Georgia to condemn France to the play-offs, possibly leaving the final game in Paris, in which the hosts will take on Finland, as a dead rubber.

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SOUTH AMERICA

Qualified: Brazil, Argentina
There is a scrum for the remaining qualifying places in one of the easier sections to negotiate. Ecuador host Uruguay, while Chile travel to Colombia. These four nations are fighting for the three remaining guaranteed slots. Whoever finishes fifth will go into a play-off against Jordan from the Asian qualifying section.
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AFRICA

Qualified: None
There are 10 possible qualifiers as five play-off matches are being held, home and away. The stand-out tie this weekend is Ivory Coast versus Senegal, two nations who have been traditionally seen as the strongest - certainly with plenty of exports into the top European leagues. Then Tuesday sees Egypt travel to Ghana in another mouthwatering clash.

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ASIA

Qualified: Japan, South Korea, Iran, Australia
Jordan hope to join the four teams that have already qualified via the play-offs but will face a highly-fancied South American team at that stage. The odds do not favour another Asian nation making the finals.
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CONCACAF (North, Central America and Caribbean)

Qualified: USA, Costa Rica
Two of either Mexico, Honduras and Panama are fighting for a final qualifying and play-off spot. Jamaica trail the rest by four points, but technically still have a slim chance. The fourth placed-side will play New Zealand.
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OCEANIA

Qualified : None
New Zealand comfortably won their section finishing six points ahead of New Caledonia in second place, but must wait for an opponent from CONCACAF to see if they can qualify. Such is the difficulty for the Oceanic countries qualifying, Australia successfully removed themselves to join the Asian groups before the last World Cup.