We’ve finally reached the final installment of our UEFA preview. Or your first, if you went straight here. Either way, our Group A-C Preview and Group D-F Previews are available. We’re on a quest to preview all 49 UEFA matches in September, and we’ll do just that. This post is brought to you specially by Blue Moon’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale.
Let’s take a look at how things are shaking out in Groups G-I.
June was about Bosnia-Herzegovina. In front of a college fieldhouse, a semi-automatic scoreboard, and about 5,000 fans in Riga, Latvia, the Bosnians cruised to the tune of 5-0. Greece took care of business while Slovakia was left scratching their heads in Liechtenstein wondering why they needed to travel through two countries to see water. Fun fact: Liechtenstein is the only land-locked nation in the world whose bordering nations are also all land-locked. Not only does WGF provide predictions, it also helps you in your local pub trivia.
Liechtenstein vs. Greece – Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Let’s hope Greece doesn’t get caught up trying to prove our fun fact right. They’ll be looking to avoid the same fate that Slovakia suffered. And if they are serious about claiming first place in the group, it’s 3 points or bust here. Liechtenstein is going to need to work some of their magic and defeat Greece here just to stay alive in qualifying. It’s not a completely impossible task, but it’s damn near close. Liechtenstein is buried in our rankings at #181, which makes the Slovakia result that much more surprising. Greece shouldn’t have any trouble here.
Prediction: Greece by 4
Bosnia-Herzergovina vs. Slovakia – Zenica, Bosnia
If you can’t win at #181 Liechtenstein, you can’t expect to win at our #6 ranked team in the world. This could be Bosnia’s coming out party. Slovakia came out of Pot 2 with big hopes, but that seems like ages ago. Bosnia is a legit contender to not only reach Brazil but make some noise as well. On some sites you STILL can’t even make a futures wager on them to win the World Cup, which is remarkable. We think Bosnia puts the pedal to the floor here and takes care of business. Slovakia’s World Cup hopes are fading. Bosnia’s got a hand full of stacks. Better grab an umbrella.
Prediction: Bosnia-Herzegovina by 3
Latvia vs. Lithuania – Riga, Latvia
Neither of these teams will be in Brazil, but until you’re mathematically out you certainly can’t give up. Both of these teams rank outside our top 100, but that doesn’t mean the quality of this match will be poor. This will be a very competitive match. We think Latvia’s home-field advantage will shine through, but it won’t matter in the long run. If either of these teams is unable to win, they should be eliminated from qualifying. A draw could eliminate them both.
Prediction: Latvia by 1
Standings should look close to, or something like this. We find it hard to believe either Greece or Bosnia won’t claim 3 points. They should be well ahead of the pack.
Slovakia vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina – Zilina, Slovakia
If Slovakia is able to have a short memory, they’ll be able to get their revenge here. They’ll need it too as anything less than a win will end their run. In fact, this result may not even matter if Greece is able to down Latvia at home. On 9 points at this juncture probably spells doom for Slovakia. This game should definitely be closer than the match on the 6th, but we still think the better team takes it here. If Bosnia can get even a point in this spot, they’ll be in a great spot to move on to Brazil.
Prediction: Bosnia-Herzegovina by 2
Greece vs. Latvia – Piraeus, Greece
The good news for Greece is that their last 3 matches are at home. The bad news is that Group G is so weak, it may already be too late to catch Bosnia-Herzegovina. They’re going to need some help from Slovakia to grab first place, but at worst they should grab 2nd with no problem. Latvia is another opponent that shouldn’t put up much fight against Greece. We’re projecting another big win in Piraeus.
Prediction: Greece by 4
Lithuania vs. Liechtenstein – Marijampole, Lithuania
WGF doesn’t see any scenario where this game would matter in Group G. We have both teams already eliminated at this juncture, but even if they’re not, Greece and Bosnia will be impossible to catch. We like the home team here to take 3 points.
Prediction: Lithuania by 2
If things end up this way, the bottom 4 teams will all be officially eliminated from qualifying while Greece will have to try to catch Bosnia in October. It would be truly shocking to see anything but Bosnia in 1st and Greece in 2nd.
As we stated in our June recap, Montenegro blew it. From our recap: “England must be feeling much better, while Ukraine has found new life. Montenegro’s odds fell off a cliff. They went from a 9% chance of finishing outside the top 2 to a 62% chance.” Montenegro, England, and Ukraine all have a legitimate chance of moving on. Poland isn’t far behind, but they have a tough road ahead.
England vs. Moldova – London, England
Hey push guy! While Moldova isn’t out yet, this should do it. Our predictor wants to get wet again and pimp England. The one thing you can say about England is that against inferior opponents they never fail to deliver. They’ll take 3 points here and move forward as there are bigger fish to fry. We actually have England currently as a 60% favorite to finish first. We’ll see what happens. The Three Lions should give the fans their money’s worth. Moldova should be mercifully eliminated.
Prediction: England by 5
Poland vs. Montenegro – Warsaw, Poland
This is an interesting match. Poland is up at #44 in our rankings, yet it seems unlikely they’ll even get out of 4th in this group. We may have Montenegro a little bit overrated, but they’re a solid squad. They’re just not in the same strong position they were in June. Poland, however, has disappointed in qualifying, culminating in an embarrassing draw at Moldova. And they were lucky to even get that. We think this one ends up all level and opens the door for Ukraine.
Ukraine vs. San Marino – Lyiv, Ukraine
It’s not a question of if, rather how much? San Marino is ranked dead last among our UEFA teams. Ukraine, meanwhile, has cracked our top 20. This match almost broke our predictor. UEFA might want to revisit having a preliminary round to eliminate the dead weight. Don’t forget Wales and Iceland came out of Pot 6. Group H must feel ecstatic to have drawn San Marino. Ukraine should get closer to the top teams. The only unfortunate thing is that the goal differential won’t matter should they finish 2nd as the games against San Marino will be wiped out in the play-off determination.
Prediction: Ukraine by 7
3 more games being played, and nothing will be cleared up. If Poland can get 3 points at home, it will be even closer. Here’s what the standings should look like.
|San Marino||0||-36||thru 7||*Eliminated|
San Marino vs. Poland – Serraville, San Marino
Another blowout coming here. San Marino is completely overmatched in Group H. Another game of how much. This time around we don’t think Poland will do as much damage as Ukraine, but it should still be ugly. These points will help Poland in the meantime, but they’ll need to see what the other teams in this group do. The odds are stacked against them.
Prediction: Poland by 5
Ukraine vs. England – Kyiv, Ukraine
This may be the best match in all of UEFA in September. The importance of this match cannot be understated. Montenegro will be watching from home with nothing to do. If either team is able to walk away from this one with 3 points, they must feel very confident about their odds of reaching at least the 2nd round play-off. When these teams met in 2010 World Cup Qualifying in Ukraine, it was the Ukrainians who walked away with all of the spoils. Should that happen again, our xCRO simulator will probably implode. I’d expect flares, riots, and everything in between. Here’s hoping for a peaceful, exciting match in Kyiv. We think this one is as even as it gets. Neither team is afraid of a little bump ‘n’ grind.
Unfortunately, things should only be more murky when September is over. We’ll only have the 2 eliminated teams while the other 4 are all in the running. Here’s what we project the standings to look like. Look at San Marino’s goal differential.
|San Marino||0||-41||thru 8||*Eliminated|
We’ve finally reached the final group in our UEFA preview. Finland couldn’t hold on to their lead in Belarus and stuck the proverbial fork in them. Anything other than a 1st place finish for Spain and 2nd for France would be stunning.
Finland vs. Spain – Helsinki, FInland
Oh boy. Finland must be clenching tightly hoping half the Spain team misses the bus to Olympiastadion. This most likely will spell the beginning of the end for Finland. Another team that left it up to chance and got stuck with Spain and France instead of Norway. Aim for Pot 1! Easier opponents improve your chances of qualifying. Spain should run train on Finland. They’re only 1 point ahead of France, but they’ll finish first. We think Finland will put up some resistance but ultimately open up and receive
Prediction: Spain by 2
Georgia vs. France – Tbilisi, Georgia
This actually projects to be a surprisingly good game. We have Georgia ranked #87 and France only #32. Add the home field advantage and you have a very competitive match. France needs to keep pace with Spain so any points sacrificed here will pretty much knock them out of first place contention. The rest of the group is depending on Georgia here. If France comes away with a victory, Finland, Georgia and Belarus will all be eliminated in one fell swoop. Perhaps they can hit the bar together. I’ll take an invite
Prediction: France by 1
It looked like it would be Spain and France all along, and that’s there we stand if both games pan out. Here’s what the standings should look like:
Belarus vs. France – Gomel, Belarus
Don’t think because Belarus is eliminated that they’ll throw out a bunch of scrubs. They go hard in Gomel. In another group, who knows what may have happened to Belarus. We think they’re a pretty solid squad, and a home match against France should have the crowd rowdy. Just like the match 4 days before in Tbilisi, France knows that any slip up virtually gives the group and the automatic qualifier to Spain. I’m told the largest stadium in Gomel holds just over 14,000 so look for road flares and some nakeds in the stands. We don’t think France wins.
Georgia vs. Finland – Tbilisi, Georgia
Our final game. We’ve done it. And it’s two teams that likely have nothing to play for. This should be another tight one. Group I has some legit competition. Unfortunately we don’t think the home team can hold serve here. Look for Finland to grab 3 meaningless points. Might as well get them for the FIFA ranking.
Prediction: Finland by 1
We don’t anticipate things changing much on the 10th, but if France doesn’t pull 6 points in their two September matches, they’re probably headed for a play-off match. There’s a real chance they miss out on Brazil in the end. Here’s our projected standings.
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