South Africa will be hosting FIFA World Cup 2010
The World Cup takes a break until next year and this affords
us a welcome chance to look back on how everybody is faring.
All the European big guns are still chasing hard but notable
among the early strugglers are
are in a very tough group but last Wednesday’s failure to
home has compounded an iffy start which also saw defeat at
both unbeaten and although
have fared better than expected, it looks like the Nordic
duo may be the best bet to shut favourites
out of the South African finals in 2010. Certainly at
are by far the best bet for a big name casualty at the first
With a win, a draw and a defeat,
not out of it. The FFF confirmed that Domenech is staying so
I promise not to write about him anymore.
Austria make up the
competition and any two of five could finish in those top
two positions. Their preponderance for beating each other
makes this group open and unpredictable. It is one of only
two groups without an unbeaten side and
perhaps look best placed having already played in
Of the other big guns,
all lead their groups comfortably and should all finish
there and qualify automatically without a play off.
a good bet to see off
Russia’s 3-0 win
over the Finns.
Cardiff and their play-off hopes now probably hinge on this
match if they can hang on in there until September. Group 8,
seems very weak and the
Ireland can probably limp into second with minimal effort.
Unimpressive with two wins and a draw against weak
opposition, Trapattoni’s Irish side can only hope that the
eventual play-off draw pits them against favourable
who have drawn all three matches, are their only threat and
their March visit to Dublin looms large for both sides.
have won all four games although they have avoided unbeaten
far. They meet in Spain in March and although it is a must
win game for the Turks,
afford one slip up without worrying. A
win would secure first place for them and leave
Turkey looking over
their shoulders to see if inconsistent
string some results together. The Dutch won in Oslo
last Wednesday and would have to endeavour to lose to
twice to not win this group. It’s all about second here with
Macedonia fighting to
be the least bad alternative. However, only eight of the
nine second places will go into the play-off and there is
already a fear that the odd one out may come from this
In the other groups,
have made a 100% start and
in Kiev has allowed
open up a gap over the
The two are the sole challengers for first now and their
April Fool’s Day showdown at Wembley could see
home if they win. Even if they don’t,
still have to go to
try to emulate
magnificent win there.
That leaves Groups 2 and 3.
threw this group even wider open, although they will still
never recover from the shame of losing at home to
This group has already seen a remarkable seven away
victories. Were if not for this fact, I’d happily tip
second and have four home games to come. However, if
Wednesday’s loss to
Switzerland proves just
to be a hiccup for the Greeks, then they should find
themselves very close at the end of qualification.
Last week saw the
get their first win in qualification with a hard fought and
unimpressive 1-0 win at home to
Teplice. Their neighbours
to complete a brace of defeats for the sides who had led the
group in the morning. This threw the group even more wide
open than it had been. After the Czechs visit
in November, three teams will have seven points from four
nine points from four games. Everyone will still have to
play everyone else. The advantage may lie slightly with the
Slovenes, who have had the hardest fixtures so
far, but the advantage is very slight and there are plenty
of games still to be won.
That’s the world cup picture for the next five months, so
between now and February we’ll be focusing on Champions
League, Europe’s domestic leagues and most of all on the big
build up to MLS coming to Seattle in 2009.
For a full list of Steve's soccer articles
We welcome feedback and comments on Steve's articles