Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FIFA World cup 2010 in S. Africa: Who is qualified?

I created this thread to keep the soccer fans among my friends up-to-date on the qualifying rounds currently played all over the world. I continue to post updates as soon as new informations comes in. The official FIFA website will give you more details.
Update 11/18: All 32 teams have now been determined--and they include some real surprises. I'll create a new thread on Dec. 4, the day when the 8 groups of four that start competition next year will be set up (through a mixture of seating and random drawing).


Ulrich said...

N. and Central America and the Caribbean: 3 of the following teams have a chance to qualify directly: USA, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, with USA and Mexico leading right now. The fourth-placed team will join them if it wins a 2-match playoff round against the 5th qualifier from S. America.

S. America: Brazil and Paraguay have qualified. 2 more teams will join them after Oct. 15, and the 5th team will be in the playoffs against the 4th team from the previous group. The big news is that Argentina is right now only in 5th place, i.e. may not qualify directly.

Asia and Oceania: Australia, Japan, N. and S. Korea have qualified. Bahrain will join them if it wins the 2-match playoff round against New Zealand; otherwise, N. Zealand will be in.

Africa: S. Africa (as host) and Ghana have qualified, the Ivory Coast is close to qualifying, and quite a few teams still have a chance to fill the remaining 3 slots.

Europe: The winners of the 9 qualifyer groups will qualify directly, and the 8 best second-placed teams will be paired to determine the remaining 4 qualifiers in a playoff round. The Netherlands, England, and Spain have already won their group. 5 more teams will join them after Oct.15.

Highlights of the current situation: Germany has a 1-point lead over Russia in their group. If it wins the match against Russia this Sunday in Moscow (big if!), it will win its group and qualify directly; the same happens if it ties and beats Finland on the following Wednesday. In each case, Russia will be in the playoffs. If Russia wins the group, Germany will be in the playoffs. Slovakia and Serbia are other teams that will at least make the layoffs

Portugal is currently only third in its group behind Denmark and Sweden; i.e. it's in danger of making not even the playoffs. France has been struggling throughout, but still has a good chance to finish at least second in its group and make the playoffs. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, may not make it

Ulrich said...

Correction: The crucial matches next week are on Oct. 14, not 15!

Ulrich said...

Second correction: The big matches are on Saturday, not Sunday. I'm somehow one day behind with everything...retirement is said to do this to you....

Ulrich said...

Here now are matches to look for on Saturday in Europe:

Group 1: 1st-place Denmark plays 2nd-place Sweden. If Denmark wins, it's qualified and Sweden is in competition with currently 3rd-place Portugal and 4th-place Hungary, which also face each other, to finish 2nd. If Sweden wins, the final day will decide everything--the most intriguing group i.t.of possibilities.

Group 2: Switzerland leads, and if it wins it's last two matches (against Luxemburg and Israel), it's qualified. Greece has the best chance to place second.

Group 3: A tie with 2nd-place Slovenia (at home!) would qualify Slovakia. Slovenia needs points to maintain its lead over N. Ireland and the Czech Republic--also an intriguing group to watch.

Group 4: Russia vs. Germany--see prior comment!

Group 5: Spain is qualified. The surprise is that Bosnia-Hercegovina is in the best position to finish second and make the playoffs--it needs a win against Estonia (away), which would eliminate Turkey, currently in 3rd place, from the World Cup.

Group 6: England is qualified. It plays against the 3rd-place Ukraine, and Croatia (which doesn't play) needs a win by England to maintain 2nd place.

Group 7: A win over Rumania would qualify Serbia. France will try to maintain 2nd place with a win over the Faroer Islands.

Group 8: Italy must at least tie in Dublin to qualify directly. But the Irish should be highly motivated b/c Bulgaria is also still in the race for place 2.

Group 9: The only group where everything has been decided: The Netherlands are qualified, and whoever ends in 2nd place will have the worst 2nd-place record and will not advance to the playoffs.

Halil Erhan said...

Regarding Group 5 standing... Turkish team disappointed us with losing the most trivial games. It came to a point where they had to win against Bosnia. However, the Bosnian team is not an easy bite... They put everything they had and the game ended with a draw. The worst thing happened during the game was the Turkish team's technical manager Terim couldn't have hold his temper; he was sent out of the field after yelling at the referee. Now, we are expecting that Bosnia will loose against the weakest team in their group and also to Spain. In addition Turkey have to win the two last games. This is a big stretch... Arda and Emre, who are the top players in the team, won't be playing in the next Belgium game. Terim won't be on the field. IMHO, this is the end of the dream of going to S.Africa for the Turkish team. I hope to watch them play with their dignity for the last two games.

Ulrich said...

Quick note: Germany wins 1:0 in Moscow in an exciting match and qualifies directly for the world cup--Russia will be in the playoffs.

More once the other matches have been played...

Ulrich said...

Halil: I remember the semi-final (?) Turkey against Germany in the 2002 World Cup that we watched together in Pittsburgh. Turkey had a very good team that actually outplayed the Germans--did they have the same head coach then?

In any case, it would be a shame if Turkey would not make it--same for Portugal and Argentina--it's the World Cup when you really want to see players like Massi or Ronaldo play while the world is watching...

Ulrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich said...

Third update: Bosnia-Hercegovina beats Estonia 2:0 and qualifies for the playoffs. This eliminates Turkey from the World Cup (I'm very sorry, Halil!).

Ulrich said...

The dust has settled, and this is what we see at the end of the day in Europe:

Teams directly qualified:
Denmark, Germany, Spain, England, Serbia, Italy, Netherlands

The remaining 2 will come from the follwing groups (bold face: most likely, *: will end at least in 2nd place, i.e. make the playoffs if not winning its group):
2: Switzerland* or Greece
3: Slovakia* or Slovenia

Playoff teams:
Russia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, France, Ireland.

The remaining 4 will come from the following groups:
1: Portugal or Sweden
2: Switzerland*, Greece or Israel
3: Slovakia*, Slovenia, or Czech Republic
6: Ukraine or Croatia.

Sweden is the big loser of the day--it was in 2nd place with a 2-point lead over Portugal at the start of the day; but its loss to Denmark together with Portugal's win over Hungary dropped it to 3rd place, 1 point behind Portugal. All Portugal needs to do on Wednesday is beat Malta, which should be a piece of cake.

In the Africa group, the Ivory Coast has qualified, as was expected.

The games in the Americas will start soon and should also help to clarify the picture there (USA against Honduras will not be shown on regular TV!)

Ulrich said...

...and finally, the USA beat Honduras 3:2 and qualify directly.

The first half ended 0:0, with a slight dominance by Honduras, but then things started to happen b/c the defenses on both sides started to make crucial mistakes. Honduras lead 1:0; then the USA scored 3 unanswered goals; then Honduras made it 2:3--and got a penalty in the 85th min. b/c of an overt hand play in the penalty area by an American defender. The penalty shot was missed by a mile (the worst penalty kick that I have ever seen--way over the goal); and then the same player missed a header from 3 meters standing free in front of the empty goal--if you miss such chances, you deserve to lose!

Ulrich said...

...and Mexico qualifies, too, with a win over San Salvador.

The final matches on Wednesday will decide if Costa Rica or Honduras will be the last direct qualifier from that continent--the other team will go into playoffs with the 5th-placed team from S. America (currently Uruguay).

Ulrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich said...

The situation in S. America:

Chile qualifies as the third of the teams from that continent. The fourth qualifier and the playoff team against Costa Rica or Honduras still need to be determined.

Argentina is now in fourth place, 1 point ahead of Uruguay and 2 points ahead of Ecuador. Argentina and Uruguay will play each other on Wednesday. A tie should do it for Argentina, b/c even if Ecuador wins (against Chile) the same day, it should have the worse goal difference of the two. Should Argentina lose, Uruguay will end in 4th place and Argentina in 5th, provided Ecuador does not win.

The upshot: Those matches on Wednesday in S. America are of the highest importance and should be thrilling!

Halil Erhan said...

I hope Arjantina can go!
There is a lesson to all of the teams from the Turkish experience: creating a successful team takes longer time than you expect, but more importantly a good balance between emotions and strategy. They lost the last game in Belgium.
It looks like with Russians and possibly Greeks, Portugal, and France will be on the second round of elimination, it will be another exciting serious of games.

Ulrich said...

@Halil: There is a new midfield star emerging in Germany--his name is Mesut Özil. He was born in Germany to Turkish immigrants. I hear that Terim tried to recruit him for Turkey, but he decided to play for Germany.

He comes close to what used to be the classical no.10 position, i.e. the play maker to whom everyone tries to pass the ball. He was a starter in Moscow and gave the pass that lead to the only German goal.

Ulrich said...

Here's a wonderful animation of the goal Germany scored with Özil hitting the decisive pass (the follow-up interviews are in German--ignore!)

Ulrich said...

We have a first result in Europe: The Ukraine is through to the playoffs; Croatia will not go to S. Africa. For Germany, that is not bad news b/c Croatia is Germany's Angstgegner.

Ulrich said...

The dust has cleared in Europe, and everything turned out as expected:

Switzerland and Slovakia qualified for the Worl Cup. Portugal, Greece and Slovenia join France, Bosnia, Ireland, Russia and the Ukraine in the playoffs to determine 4 more European teams to compete in S. Africa.

The most prominent teams definitely out of contention are Croatia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Instead, we'll see some newcomers--especially, countries that were part of the former Yugoslavia.

The playoff match-ups will be such that the 4 highest-ranked teams will not play against each other, which maximizes the chance that we'll see France and Portugal and Russia in S.Africa.

Now onto the last round of group play in the Americas...

Ulrich said...

...where Argentin beat Uruguay in a mediocre match 1:0--they are through, the Uruguyans in the playoff.

Ulrich said...

..and play against Costa Rica--they lead the US 2:0 at half-time but had to settle for a 2:2 tie. Honduras qualified directly.

We have to wait until mid-November until the remaining African qualifiers are known.

In all three matches that I watched today, the already-qualified team fell behind (Germany, Italy, USA). Italy was trailing Cyprus (!) 0:2 well into the second half, but managed with a burst of energy in the last 10 minutes to pull out a 3:2 win. The US tied a game in which they were trailing Costa Rica 0:2 at half-time, and Germany managed to equalize a 1-goal deficit in the last minute against Finland. The interesting fact about this match is that Germany beat every team in its group in both the home and away matches, including Russia, but only managed to tie Finland each time, and was trailing each time!.

Ulrich said...

On Monday, the playoff match-ups will be determined for the Europe group. There will be two pots based on the current rankings of the playoff teams:

1: France, Russia, Portugal, Greece
2: Slovenia, Bosnia, Ireland, Ukraine

Each match-up will pit a team from pot 1 against a team from pot 2, drawn at random. A second drawing will determine which team in each pair starts with a home game. Although the deck is stacked in favor of the teams in pot 1, some of the teams in pot 2 have shown a lot of pluck, and we shouldn't be surprised by surprises. In particular, I don't give Greece more than a 50/50 chance to go through.

The matches themselves will be played on Nov. 14 and 18. Mark these days! The matches should be exciting b/c so much is at stake.

Ulrich said...

We now know the playoff match-ups in Europe:

France vs. Ireland
Portugal vs. Bosnia
Russia vs. Slovenia
Greece vs. Ukraine

Among the seated teams (from pot 1), Greece drew the seemingly strongest opponent: Currently, Greece is ranked only 4 places ahead of the Ukraine (16th and 22nd, respectively).

Bosnia's success looks less of a surprise if one knows that the top players on the team play for top clubs in the German Bundesliga. For example, their forward Dzeko plays for the reigning German champion, Wolfsburg, and finished second in the vote for player of the year--he was beaten only by his teammate and fellow forward, Grafite, who is Brazilian. Portugal may have its hands full...

Ulrich said...

The latest from today: Nigeria as well as New Zealand have qualified for S. Africa. The last team from Africa will be determined in a match between Egypt and Algeria on Nov. 18 on neutral turf (right now, both teams have the same points and no. of goals scored and allowed).

In Europe, today's play-off matches (first of two) ended as follows:
Russia-Slovenia 2:1
Portugal-Bosnia 1:0
Greece-Ukraine 0:0
Ireland-France 0:1

The winning teams have the upper hand b/c a tie will suffice in the second match to qualify. France looks best b/c its win came on the road. Greece looks worst b/c it now must win an away game against a team that looked in no way worse. But all teams still have a chance b/c today's results were so narrow.

I've watched major portions of each match--I liked the Portugal/Bosnia match best (tempo, multiple chances to score for each team, with Bosnia hitting aluminum 3 [!] times); Russia/Slovenia also wasn't bad.

Ulrich said...

Addition: Cameroon also qualified in the Africa group.

Correction: Greece can advance even with a tie next Wednesday if it manages to score at least one goal. I do not know exactly how things look when this second match also ends 0:0. My guess is that they will first play overtime, and if that doesn't decide it, go into penalty kicks.

Ulrich said...

The biggest upset today: Slovenia eliminates Russia. Greece beats Ukraine. Both results were unexpected for me. More expected was Portugal's win--they qualify. The last European qualifier will determined in the France-Ireland match, which is in overtime right now b/c Ireland is leading 1:0 after 90 min.--there is another upset in the making!

In Africa, Algeria beat Egypt and qualifies. I must go back now to the live stream--be back when everything has been decided (Honduras-Costa Rica hasn't started yet).

Ulrich said...

France scored in overtime what seemed to be a completely irregular goal b/c it looked as if it was preceded by a deliberate hand-ball--no matter, they qualify and Ireland is out--after a more than courageous performance.

Uruguay advances as the last team from S. America (I misidentified it in my previous comment as "Honduras"--sorry), and with that, the 32 teams that will play in S. Africa have been determined.

A note: With these last two qualifiers, all 7 teams that ever won the cup will be competing in S. Africa, a first AFAIK.

The next significant event to put into your calendar: Dec. 4, when the 8 groups that start competition will be determined. There will be probably again a 'group of death', i.e. group of teams that appear particularly strong. Once we know the groups, I'll start a new thread in which we can freely speculate about the chances of our favorite teams and make all sorts of predictions.

Ulrich said...

To wrap things up, here are the qualified teams by continent (in the order in which they qualified):

Europe: Netherlands, England, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Serbia, Italy, Switzerland, Slovakia, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, France

Africa: S. Africa (as host), Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria

S. America: Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay

Asia: Australia, Japan, S. Korea, N. Korea

N. and Central America: USA, Mexico, Honduras

Oceania: New Zealand

On to Dec. 4!