Germany is looking extremely strong to advance directly to Brazil. Even if they only draw at home to Ireland and lose at Sweden, they’re so far ahead in goal differential that it shouldn’t matter. They finished 1st in 995 of our 1,000 simulations. While Ireland is mathematically still alive, they only finished 3rd in 1 of our simulations and never higher. It looks like it’ll be Sweden and Austria battling it out for 2nd place. We give Sweden an 80/20 advantage there.
Germany v. Republic of Ireland – Cologne, Germany
With a trip to Brazil on the line here, you can be sure Germany will bring the fire. We really don’t think Ireland stands much of a chance here. When these teams met last October, Germany scored a 6-1 away win in easy fashion. If not for the miraculous Sweden comeback, Germany would already be through. This is probably just a formality. If I’m a betting man, the ranch goes on the Germans.
Prediction: Germany by 3… to Brazil
Sweden v. Austria – Solna, Sweden
This is probably one of the most important matches on Friday. Sweden can put Austria to bed with a win and clinch at worst 2nd place. Despite being in good shape heading into September, Austria knew the odds were against them. Sweden delivered a road victory at Ireland to put themselves in the driver’s seat. Austria is an underdog, and it’s certainly fun to root for them. Austria is in our top 40, but this group is just too tough. We like Sweden to get the job done.
Prediction: Sweden by 2
Faroe Islands v. Kazakhstan – Torshavn, Faroe Islands
This game really only has one meaning. If Faroe Islands do not win, they will finish last in the group. That’s OK, as if Sweden wins and cracks 20 points, they’ll be guaranteed to advance to the 2nd place play-off regardless of what happens against Germany. This should actually be a pretty competitive match despite the small implications. We think the road team pulls out a close one.
Prediction: Kazakhstan by 1
We think Group C is fairly straightforward. Germany should lock up 1st place in the group, and if Sweden delivers they’ll finish 2nd, with the other 4 teams eliminated. There’s certainly a lack of drama in Group C, unless Austria can get something in Solna.
Sweden v. Germany – Solna, Sweden
It’s certainly hard to envision this match being meaningful to Germany. But if Sweden doesn’t get a win at home vs. Austria, this could be a massive match. You just know Germany is wondering how they ever blew a 4-0 2nd half lead at home to Sweden. It’s unfathomable. That single point for Sweden could end up being huge. Germany will want revenge whether they’ve qualified or not, so Sweden would be wise to take care of business against Austria.
Prediction: Germany by 1
Faroe Islands v. Austria – Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Likewise with the Sweden match, this game could mean nothing, or it could be absolutely massive. If Sweden and Austria draw on the 11th, Austria could get through by taking out Faroe Islands and Sweden losing to Germany. Certainly a possibility. Austria will want to take care of this one as soon as possible and put the Faroe Islands away early. That’s what they’ll do.
Prediction: Austria by 3
Republic of Ireland v. Kazakhstan – Dublin, Ireland
Speaking of meaningless matches, there’s virtually no chance this match has any meaning. Ireland wet themselves at home against Sweden, and subsequently were sent out to pasture in the rolling hills of Austria. Ireland will finish strong at home, but it’s certainly too little, too late.
Prediction: Republic of Ireland by 3
Sweden shouldn’t have too much trouble reaching the 2nd place play-off. When Group C concludes, we expect the standings to look like this:
|Republic of Ireland||14||0|
Our other UEFA group previews can be seen below. Thanks for reading!
Group A Preview (Belgium, Croatia, Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Scotland, Wales)
Group B Preview (Italy, Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Armenia, Malta)
Group D Preview (Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Estonia, Andorra)
Group E Preview (Switzerland, Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania, Cyprus)
Group F Preview (Russia, Portugal, Israel, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg)
Group G Preview (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein)
Group H Preview (England, Ukraine, Montenegro, Poland, Moldova, San Marino)
Group I Preview (Spain, France, Finland, Georgia, Belarus)