Sweet and bitter taste of international break by @zikson_b
The conclusion of international duties will bring a sigh of relief for managers who are fortunate to have their players back without any injury problems.
In a week where it seems many players will go back injured, notable names like David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and many others had a share of the injury dose. However, it was full of interesting, shocking and impressive performances from different teams all around the world. While some enjoyed a good week, others had a week to forget.
In Europe it was celebration time for twenty teams that confirmed European Championship qualification to be held in France next summer. England won all ten group games to remain the only team to qualify with 100% record. World champions, Germany made it through together with Portugal, Spain and Italy. Iceland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Russia and Romania all qualified to join host nation France.
Wales qualified for a major tournament for the first time in 57 years while Albania and Northern Ireland were other surprise teams to make it through to France. Turkey’s late winner against Iceland on Tuesday gave them an automatic qualification ticket as the best third placed team ahead of Hungary. Belgium also joined the party with the Red Devils set to be the number one ranked team in the world while Netherlands were the biggest omission from the summer championship. The last four places will be determined by a playoff next month with the draw set for this weekend.
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ukraine, Sweden and Hungary have been seeded for the playoff draws with Norway, Denmark, Slovenia and Republic of Ireland as possible opponents.
In Africa and Asia, 2018 World cup qualifiers were played with the lower ranked teams on display. In North America, Mexico won United States of America to qualify for 2017 FIFA Confederations cup. Javier Hernandez, Oribe Peralta and Paul Aguilar all scored to get a better of USA’s Geoff Cameron and Bobby Wood’s strikes in a 3-2 win. Paul Aguilar’s late strike one minute from the end of extra time gave Mexico the priceless win.
Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile all won their second game in less than a week to remain unbeaten with 100% record in the 2018 FIFA world cup qualifiers.
Arsenal forward, Alexis Sanchez together with Eduardo Vargas both got a brace to help Chile with a 4-3 away win over Peru while Ecuador were two goals better than Bolivia. Uruguay showed too much power with a 3-0 win over Colombia as top teams in South America fight for places in 2018 world cup. Brazil came back to winning ways with a brace for Willian in a 3-1 win against Venezuela which moved the former world champions to 5th on the log. Argentina stayed 7th with only a goalless draw away at Paraguay after initially falling at home to Ecuador. Argentina was without injured Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero and will hope to have the pair back for subsequent matches as they looked toothless in attack.
An eventful week it was especially with results like an Ecuador win at Argentina and Netherland’s heart break for the first time since 1984.
Belgium will be number one in the next FIFA ranking but that doesn’t mean they will work over teams in the next couple of years. They possess lot of good young players in Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, ThibautCourtois and experienced players in Vincent Kompany, Fellaini, Mirallas, Vertoghen and others. Belgium will still have to prove it at the biggest stage and a chance has presented itself in France next summer.
Spain is not looking good enough to defend the title they won back to back while Germany has not been convincing in recent display. Although, England won all qualifying games, it will be disastrous to put your money on them as they failed to show up in global competitions in the past. France have the advantage of hosting and with good players all around Europe which makes the host nation a contender for a title they won in 2000.
However, it’s too early to call as a lot can change for many nations in the next few months.
The presence of Wales, Northern Ireland, Albania and some other new faces will add more in terms of competition.
Written by @zikson_b