SOCCER | WC QUALIFIERS
World Cup Qualifiers: what countries from UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and CAF can qualify this week?
Qatar, Germany and Denmark have already booked their place at Qatar 2022, while eight more European teams will be joining them by the end of this international break.
With the 2022 World Cup just over a year away now, three teams have so far booked their place in next year’s finals. Hosts Qatar have an automatic place in the tournament, while Germany and Denmark have both already secured the top spot in their respective groups in the European qualifiers to guarantee their tickets to the first-ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.
And after the upcoming round of fixtures during the November international break eight more European teams will join them, with the World Cup qualifying action getting underway in the UEFA, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and CAF regions this Thursday, 11 November.
Who will go through to Qatar World Cup after this final week of fixtures:
Group A: Serbia or Portugal
Group B: Spain or Sweden
Group C: Italy or Switzerland
Group D: France (likely outcome)
Group E: Belgium (likely outcome)
Group F: Denmark (already qualified)
Group G: Holland (likely outcome)
Group H: Russia or Croatia
Group I: England (likely outcome)
Group J: Germany (already qualified)
In Group A, either Serbia and Portugal will win the group but which of them will depend on the result of the meeting between the pair on Sunday. The winner of that game will go through, leaving the other with the playoff spot. But who goes through if the game ends in a draw will depend on the result of Portugal’s game in hand with the Rep. of Ireland.
If Portugal beat Ireland, they will have a two-point advantage against Serbia going into that final game; if they draw, Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. will be level on points but with a four-goal advantage in goal difference; and if they lose, Serbia will retain a one-point lead ahead of the final fixture. So still very much up in the air there between those two.
In Group B, Spain or Sweden are still very much in the running for the top spot with two games left to be played each. One of them will have their ticket to Qatar on Sunday, when the two sides meet in a game that could very well decide which team goes through.
In Group C, it’s a very similar situation between Italy and Switzerland, who are level on 14 points with two games left each. They meet each other on Thursday but whatever happens in that game, it will still go down to the final day when Italy face an away trip to Northern Ireland, while Switzerland play Bulgaria at home.
In Group D, France need to pick up just two points from their last two games to secure their ticket to Qatar, however one point could very well be enough as long as third-placed Finland do not win their final two games, the last of which of course is against Les Bleus themselves.
Things are much more clean cut for Belgium in Group E: they just need one point from any of their two final games against Belarus and Wales and they are through.
Holland are the favorites to top Group G with the Oranje enjoying a two-point lead over second-placed Norway and a four-point lead over Turkey in third. If Holland pick up four points from their last two games, they will have their place at Qatar 2022, but it’s still all very much to play for and any of the three sides could still mathematically top the group.
With Russia and Croatia almost guaranteed to win their respective games against Group H minnows Cyprus and Malta, respectively, it will all come down to the meeting of the pair in the final game. Given they win their respective games against Cyprus and Malta, Russia will go into that final game against Croatia with a two-point advantage, while Croatia will need to win that final game but will have the home advantage -- in other words, too tough to call.
With a three-point lead over Poland in Group I and a four-goal lead in goal difference, three points from their final two games will almost-certainly see England through. And considering those final two games are against Albania and San Marino, it’s hard not to imagine England picking up a maximum six points. England topping the group is almost a given, with Poland taking the play-off spot.
Who could be through by the end of this international break: no team guaranteed, but Mexico and USA could be almost there.
There are still eight of 14 matchdays to go in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, but as things stand, Mexico, the USA and Canada look likely to take the top three spots. However, nothing will be definitively decided by the end of this international break.
If Mexico can pull off one win in either of their away games against the USA and Canada, they will have one foot on the plane to Qatar come the end of this international break. The US would find themselves in the same position should they win their two games against Mexico and Jamaica.
Who could be through by the end of this international break: Brazil
There are still plenty of match days to go (seven for Brazil and Argentina; six for the rest) in CONMEBOL, so a lot is yet to be decided. But if Brazil (with 31 points, six more than second-placed Argentina and 14 more than third-placed Ecuador) win their two upcoming games against Colombia and Argentina during this international break, they are mathematically through (and a win against Colombia alone would see them-all-but mathematically through).
With both teams still unbeaten, Brazil and Argentina are likely to take the top two spots, leaving several teams -- including Colombia, Ecuador and Chile -- battling for the final automatic qualifying spot.
Who could be through by the end of this international break: Nobody
The CAF is currently in the second round of the qualifying stages, where the winners of each of the ten groups will qualify for the third round. As things stand, Morocco and Senegal have already qualified for the third round.
The third round sees those ten qualifying teams drawn into five home-and-away ties. The winners of each fixture will advance to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.