Watch out for the large amount of beards featured on the site. On to UEFA.
There are 49 UEFA World Cup qualifying games that will be played over the course of four days. That’s a lot of previews. And we’re pretty sure there’s no other site out there that gives you a prediction for every single game. We’re going to need to break these predictions up because one post would just be too long. Let’s take a look at who’s playing who.
This should be a two horse race between Belgium and Croatia, but Serbia may have something to say about this. Belgium is looking to be in far better shape to grab the direct qualifying spot.
Serbia vs. Croatia – Belgrade, Serbia
This is it for Serbia. They must defeat Croatia at home to have any prayer of finishing 2nd in this group. After Croatia lost at home to Scotland, it’s not crazy to think they’re a little bit exposed. Conversely, Croatia can eliminate Serbia, FYR Macedonia, and Wales in one fell swoop with a victory. Even a draw for Croatia would eliminate Serbia and Macedonia. This has the makings of a tight, low scoring affair. A goalless draw is not out of the question as this could be a snooze fest. We don’t think either team has an edge here.
Scotland vs. Belgium – Glasgow, Scotland
The Scots are eliminated and Belgium is looking extremely strong for a spot in Brazil. But this is why they don’t play on paper. Scotland scored a surprise victory in Croatia, and surely they’ll be looking for 3 points here. But Belgium certainly is not Croatia. Belgium is the class of Group A and a top 10 team in our rankings, so they’ll be expected to hold serve on the road. You can’t bank on just a point here. Look for the Belgians to prove why they’re at the top of the group and claim all 3 points.
Prediction: Belgium by 2
FYR Macedonia vs. Wales – Skopje, Macedonia
It is a mathematical certainty that just playing this match will eliminate one of these teams. The reality is that this match really doesn’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things as neither is very likely to reach and pass Croatia. Not much to say here other than the home team should do work and take 3 points, eliminating Wales in the process.
Prediction: FYR Macedonia by 2
Here’s what the Group A Standings should look like after the 6th:
|FYR Macedonia||7||-2||thru 7||*Eliminated|
FYR Macedonia vs. Scotland – Skopje, Macedonia
At this point both of these teams should be eliminated and just playing this one out. Macedonia’s home field advantage should give them the edge here.
Prediction: FYR Macedonia by 1
Wales vs. Serbia – Cardiff, Wales
If Serbia is able to get a victory over Croatia they’ll still be alive here. Certainly do not count them out. If Serbia stays alive, they’d need all 3 points here to keep the run going. We think they get it done.
Prediction: Serbia by 1
Belgium and Croatia are idle on the 10th, which should delay the suspense even further. As noted above, if Serbia can get 6 points in September, they’ll be in a dog fight with Croatia until the final match day. Here’s what things should look like heading into October.
|FYR Macedonia||10||-1||thru 8||*Eliminated|
Italy should finish first in this group. The competition in this group is simply not up to par with the other groups. This sort of thing always seems to happen to Italy. Of course Belgium or France didn’t end up in this group.
Czech Republic vs. Armenia – Prague, Czech Republic
Who knows what to expect in this match. Czech Republic couldn’t break through at home against Italy. Armenia lost at home to Malta and followed it up by thrashing Denmark 4-0 in Copenhagen. Armenia must keep pace here. They can’t fall further behind Czech Republic. The Denmark game is not truly what the Armenian team is. They’re really the team that lost at home to Malta. They shouldn’t put up much of a fight here.
Prediction: Czech Republic by 3
Malta vs. Denmark – Ta’Qali, Malta
This should actually be a rather interesting match. Denmark basically soiled themselves in June and that smear may be too much to wipe away. Malta doesn’t really have a realistic chance of reaching Brazil, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be shooting for 3 points against a vulnerable opponent. We’re skeptical of Denmark. So is our predictor.
Italy vs. Bulgaria – Palermo, Italy
Bulgaria is probably Italy’s biggest competition at this point. And what do you know? They host the Bulgarians on the 6th. While Italy does not show up that well in our rankings (they’re 35th as of today), they clearly have the weakest group in UEFA competition. Bulgaria is a worthy opponent, but this game has the makings of a classic Italian performance. Ranch on 1-0 Italy. They’ll be knocking on the door of Brazil after this one.
Prediction: Italy by 1
Standings should look like this:
|Czech Republic||12||5||thru 7|
Malta vs. Bulgaria – Ta’Qali, Malta
In all likelihood, Malta will need to get all 3 points here to keep their qualifying campaign alive. That doesn’t make the task ahead of them any easier. Bulgaria currently edges Italy as our top ranked team in Group B. If Bulgaria can’t defeat Malta here, they’re probably not worth of reaching the finals in Brazil. The outcome of this one shouldn’t be in doubt for much of the match, but don’t expect a massive victory.
Prediction: Bulgaria by 2
Armenia vs. Denmark – Yerevan, Armenia
Armenia destroyed Denmark by 4-0 in Copenhagen, so surely this one should result in an even larger margin of victory, right? Well Denmark surely isn’t that bad, but it is truly hard to pinpoint what went wrong. This is Denmark’s last chance to prove they belong in the upper echelon of UEFA teams. Even with a massive result, it may be too late. A single point doesn’t help either team here, but unfortunately that’s what we see happening here. Neither of these teams will end up in Brazil.
Italy vs. Czech Republic – Turino, Italy
We thought the Czech Republic would get it done in Prague, but the Italians resorted to their familiar tactics in a goalless draw. You have to expect they’ll come out here, kick the ball around for 90 minutes, and expect to leave with a one goal victory and 3 points. And who would refute that? Italy will look for a moment of magic from Andrea Pirlo, and they’ll probably get it. Czech Republic’s Brazil hopes will be put on hold while the Italians officially punch their ticket.
Prediction: Italy by 1… to Brazil
It sure looks like Czech Republic and Bulgaria will be battling it out for 2nd place. Malta should be officially eliminated with Armenia and Denmark not far behind. Here’s what the standings should look like:
|Czech Republic||12||5||thru 8|
This may be the most interesting group of all. Germany is well ahead of the pack, with their only blemish being the blown 4-0 2nd half lead at home to Sweden. This group is a prime example of why you want to end up in a higher pot in the qualifying draw. Austria, Ireland and Sweden all benefited greatly from being paired with Kazakhstan and Faroe Islands. The 2nd place battle should be very interesting.
Kazakhstan vs. Faroe Islands – Astana, Kazakhstan
This one shouldn’t mean that much in the grand scheme of things. Kazakhstan needs all 3 points to stay mathematically alive, which they should get. They still have no realistic shot of reaching Brazil.
Prediction: Kazakhstan by 3
Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden – Dublin, Ireland
If we learned anything in June qualifying, it’s that there’s no clear cut 2nd team in this group. Sweden is beatable. Ireland didn’t look all that great against Faroe Islands, and Austria’s strong performance is rewarded with a trip to Germany. There is no better opportunity to make a statement than to beat a team at home when you’re tied in the standings. This should be a great, competitive match. Both teams are in our top 45 in the world. Unfortunately for the Irish, we don’t think they’ll have enough to get past the Swedes.
Germany vs. Austria – Munich, Germany
There certainly is no love lost between these neighbors. Austria was looking like the 2nd best team in Group C, but the odds are stacked against them to remain in 2nd. If Ireland and Sweden draw, Germany has a great opportunity to virtually lock up a spot in Brazil. A win would put them 7 points up on the group with just 3 matches remaining, including one against Faroe Islands. That’s a trip to Brazil, brother. It’s remarkable that Austria could be in 4th in this group while placing in the top 35 of our rankings, but that’s how good this group is. This is a tough draw, but all will not be lost.
Prediction: Germany by 2
We think only Faroe Islands will remain elminated with nothing cleared up for 2nd place.
|Republic of Ireland||12||2||thru 7|
|Faroe Islands||0||-21||thru 7||*Eliminated|
Kazakhstan vs. Sweden – Astana, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan should be swiftly eliminated from qualifying here. Sweden has no choice but to blow out Kazakhstan by as many goals as possible. This actually could end up being a pretty important game for Sweden. If they end up in the 2nd place pool, with Faroe Islands in last, the games against Kazakhstan will still count towards their total. This screams blowout to me, but our predictor is a little afraid to put itself out there.
Prediction: Sweden by 2
Austria vs. Republic of Ireland – Vienna, Austria
The Austrians will need to have a short memory, as a likely defeat at the hands of Germany must be forgotten. This is the match of the group in September. We’re going to find out if Austria or Ireland are truly contenders to snatch up 2nd place in the group. Austria is very tough at home, and Ireland is not all that strong on the road. Austria is going to take this one and blow Group C wide open headed into the final two matchdays. The only thing going for Ireland is that Germany may rest its starters in October. Other than that, it’s going to be tough.
Prediction: Austria by 1
Faroe Islands vs Germany – Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Some may have beef with our #9 ranking of Germany, but with Faroe Islands at #184, I think we can agree to split hairs here. Make no mistake, Germany will be a massive favorite. Especially knowing that a trip to Brazil could be on the line here, look for Germany to strike early and often in Torshavn. The Faroe Islands are just completely overmatched here and should succumb to Germany very quickly. It’s tough being a minnow in UEFA.
Prediction: Germany by 5… to Brazil
We see Germany officially clinching when September matches conclude. And we should be no closer to establishing a 2nd place team in Group C. Austria, Sweden and Ireland are going to battle it out until the end. Sweden finishes with two home matches, but they’re against Austria and Germany. Ireland and Austria each get to face one of the bottom two teams one more time. Standings should look something like this:
|Republic of Ireland||12||1||thru 8|
|Faroe Islands||0||-26||thru 8||*Eliminated|
What a dissertation that was. And we’re only through 3 groups! WGF is committed to providing unprecedented coverage of the international game. We hope you enjoyed our preview. Be sure to keep an eye out for the other 6 groups coming soon and all of our predictions on the site for every friendly and tournament match.
Thanks for reading!