Вперёд! 2018 World Cup Qualifiers

Dec 21, 2015
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Honduras looks entirely un-intimidated by playing in Azteca in the early going. Have had several quality chances including one that arguably should have scored. Their defensive tactics look really solid too.

If Mexico beats Honduras, and Canada beats El Salvador while making up an initial 5 GD deficit, Canada can advance to the Hex. Seems like a very remote possibility.
 

dirtynine

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Canada now 2-0 up, but Mexico's not cooperating (0-0). Can needs 3 in the 30 minutes left - would a productive third period indeed.
 

Titans Bastard

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Canada now 2-0 up, but Mexico's not cooperating (0-0). Can needs 3 in the 30 minutes left - would a productive third period indeed.
Canada can get away with two more (a 4-0 win) if Mexico wins 1-0. A win of any size won't help them if Honduras gets a point tonight.

Darwin Ceren got himself sent off, so Canada is up a man.
 

dirtynine

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It didn't work out for Canada. 3-1 left them a few goals shy and Mexico was no help. I hope they're on the upswing - it would be good for the region.
 

Titans Bastard

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It didn't work out for Canada. 3-1 left them a few goals shy and Mexico was no help. I hope they're on the upswing - it would be good for the region.
Cyle Larin is a beast and will be their cornerstone for at least the next two cycles. They'll need to ride him hard.

There is some interesting talent coming through some of the Canadian clubs. Jay Chapman and Jordan Hamilton in Toronto look good. Alphonso Davies (Vancouver) is supposed to be the Canadian wunderkind, but I haven't seen much of him. Given what a replacement level CanMNT player looks like, I can't believe Floro has ignored Jonathan Osorio.

They would enormously benefit if they did well enough in friendlies and in Gold Cups to boost their FIFA ranking to the #4-6 range in CONCACAF. It would make their semifinal round draw much more manageable.

Their NT is a motley crew, but so is T&T and they made the Hex. Tonight, Canada started players from the NASL and the Norwegian second tier and their first two subs play in the third divisions of England and Spain. Canada has a few pieces, but they need a little more talent and self-belief and a decent draw.
 

Senator Donut

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Carlos Ruiz scored five goals in his final international game. Not a bad send off in an otherwise meaningless match. Good riddance though.
 

Titans Bastard

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The word is that in tonight's Ecuador-Chile WCQ, Enner Valencia faked an injury so that he could be transported out of the stadium in an ambulance, thereby avoiding an active arrest warrant for non-payment of alimony. I'm not sure how he plans to leave the country.



In other news, future WC host Qatar has lost all three games in the final AFC qualifying stage thus far. China's also in bad shape after a home loss to Syria.
 

Titans Bastard

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CONCACAF is talking about changing the WCQ format again, with Montagliani citing the following:

"Something needs to change because you can't have 85 percent of your members who are on the outside looking in two years before the World Cup," Montagliani told The Associated Press. "It doesn't make sense."
But what if 85 percent of your members totally suck?

Watering down the final round of qualifying is the last thing the region needs. But hey, Montagliani knows it will be good for Canada and a way for the region's dominant voting bloc (Caribbean FA presidents) to line their pockets.
 

Infield Infidel

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LOL that's why we have a Gold Cup every other year, so those members have something to do and can line their pockets

As long as it's still one table and we play Mexico twice I'm fine. Octagon, decagon, sure.
 

Senator Donut

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LOL that's why we have a Gold Cup every other year, so those members have something to do and can line their pockets
As hinted on in the other thread, playing the Gold Cup every other year also helps nations playing in the final stage game their FIFA ranking.
 

OCST

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LOL that's why we have a Gold Cup every other year, so those members have something to do and can line their pockets

As long as it's still one table and we play Mexico twice I'm fine. Octagon, decagon, sure.
Disagree. Hex is grueling enough.

A solution would be to break off the little Caribbean islands into a separate federation, give them and Oceania each a half-spot, and have the winners play off for the King of the Islands, To Be Summarily Dispatched spot. Can you imagine the travel for a St Vincent - Tonga home-and-home? I doubt there's a direct flight.
 

Infield Infidel

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That's an interesting idea, kind of along the lines of USA and Mexico moving to CONMEBOL, which won't happen but would have a similar effect on the the rest of CONCACAF.

I don't think an octagon or decagon would be much more grueling. Right now we play 16 qualifiers in the 4th round and the Hex. If CONCACAF scraps the 4th round that we just finished, and went straight to 10 teams final table, we'd play 18 matches instead of 16. We'd also automatically be in the final round of qualifying. I'd have rather played Jamaica and El Salvador this week instead of Cuba and New Zealand, which hurt our ranking win or lose
 

SoxFanInCali

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California. Duh.
San Marino is tied 1-1 in Norway with 15 minutes left, after scoring their first away goal in qualifying in over 15 years.

They were a little excited.
 

InstaFace

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CONMEBOL qualifiers today, starting 3:30 ET with Chile-Colombia, which would be the highlight of most days but tonight there's also Brazil-Argentina at 6:45.

US-Mexico tomorrow night obviously.
 

InstaFace

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Convincing 3-0 lead for Brazil with 58' played, against an Albiceleste finally at full strength with Messi and everyone. Perhaps they are fully back.
 

Zososoxfan

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The team is probably still adjusting to Bausa, but yeah Arg looked awful yesterday. I don't blame Simeone, Sampaoli, or Pochettino for not wanting to manage under this horrific FA, but if one of those 3 were brought in, I'd think this team would be world beaters again in a hurry. My sincere hope is one of them can't resist the opportunity to coach the NT with Messi and caves sometime next year in order to lead them in Russia. Long shot I know.
 

InstaFace

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So, say what you will about the English squad and its management, you can't just build a team around Robert Snodgrass and Darren Fletcher and expect them to go have a shot against England.
 

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Nice win by my boys (Panama) at Honduras yesterday.

Even with an obvious goal taken away (the keeper clearly took the ball out from inside the goal!!) they held on for a 1-0 victory. 3 very valuable points.
 

PedroSpecialK

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There was a 45 minute rain delay prior to the Iran/Syria match.

They should have just cancelled it, this pitch is insane
 

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I watched some highlights yesterday and since Iceland-Croatia was played in front of an empty stadium, you could hear players and managers shouting instructions at each other. It was awesome. I remember a few years ago the audio feed went out on a Bruins broadcast and all you could hear was the skates on the ice. It was magical.
 

Titans Bastard

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We're now halfway through the third round of AFC qualifying. In Group A, Iran and South Korea look like the best bets for advancement, with Uzbekistan around to play their perpetual bridesmaid role. Qatar and China are both having very poor campaigns and look cooked already. Qatar's World Cup debut will have to come as hosts in 2022.

Iraq and Thailand have fallen behind in Group B, which is otherwise a tight four-horse race between Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, and UAE.
 

InstaFace

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(link to AFC standings)

Now that I'm looking at it, I'm not sure I agree - with 5 games to go, Uzbekistan is a point behind 2nd and 2 points behind 1st in their group. They'll have head-to-head opportunities to get a result. Likewise Group B, where as you say it's a 4-horse race but if anything that understates it - you have two teams on 10 points and two teams on 9 points, plus two laggards. I'd say any of those 7 teams could get one of the 4 bids, though you'd certainly bet on Japan & South Korea to be among the survivors. I also had no idea that Iran was ranked ahead of them - who are those guys?

Actually, I'm curious enough to spend 5 minutes on that. Let me look at the club teams for their starting roster. The summary is:

- Of the 23 players on the WCQ squad, 12 play in the top level of the Iranian league (Persian Gulf Pro League), 7 of them for Persepolis, the current hegemon in that league
- 2 players in the Russian league, one of them the starting CM for Rostov (UCL)
- 2 veterans play for Panionios in the Greek Super League
- 2 defenders in the Qatari league
- 2 in the Eredivisie, including 1 MF who starts for AZ (Europa League)
- 1 guy who's a reserve for Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia
- 1 30-year-old who used to be a regular in the Bundesliga and for Fulham in the EPL, but right now lacks a club
- The starting GK starts for a middling Norwegian 1st-division team
- They also have a young prospect, currently suspended, who's a striker for Rostov, starts in the UCL and has reported interest from a half-dozen giant, famous clubs

So by those standards, they have 2-3 players who are "objectively good", a few more who face decent but not great European competition, and a bunch who play in AFC leagues and who-really-knows-how-good-they-are. And this is the #1-rated national side in the AFC (#51 FIFA, #23 Elo), somehow ahead of:

(rankings are by Elo)
#21 South Korea (2 MF starters at Augsburg in the Bundesliga, 1 at Crystal Palace and of course Son Heung-min at Spurs)
#26 Japan (among others: Yoshida at Southampton, Okazaki at Leicester, Nagatomo at Inter, Kiyotake at Sevilla, Kagawa at BVB...)
#36 Australia (4 in the Championship, 3 in the EPL, 2 in the Bundesliga, 1 in the Eredivisie, 1 at Celtic, and 1 backup GK at Valencia)
#48 Uzbekistan (3 guys in China, 2 in the Russian Premier League... and that's all for quality credentials)

Have to say that other than the Uzbeks, they're punching above their weight the best. Must have some good coaching.
 

PedroSpecialK

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Queiroz has indeed stabilized Iran's NT, and is the only reason their relative motley crew of players can compete with South Korea.

I'm always surprised watching Ashkan Dejagah to remember that he doesn't have a club. He was the only Iranian player making anything happen today - the usually stalwart Reza Ghoochannejhad (the other Eredivisie player) was pretty much rendered irrelevant by the pitch conditions. I'm sure part of it is his wage demands at age 30 and likely wanting to stay in the gulf region, but he's still got some left in the tank.

They need Azmoun back badly
 

cromulence

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Just a friendly, but England just completely fell apart to blow a 2-0 lead to Spain. Gareth Southgate was thisclose to a great audition, and it just totally disintegrated in front of his eyes.
 

Titans Bastard

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(link to AFC standings)

Now that I'm looking at it, I'm not sure I agree - with 5 games to go, Uzbekistan is a point behind 2nd and 2 points behind 1st in their group. They'll have head-to-head opportunities to get a result.
You're right that on paper, the Uzbeks have a totally reasonable chance. I meant to refer to their history as being perennial AFC contenders who never get the job done despite reaching the final stage every time. They've lost in the AFC 5th place playoff twice (out of five total qualifying campaigns) and missed the playoff by one point on a third occasion. Last time, before they got bounced in the playoff, they missed out on qualification over South Korea by +1 GD.

They are arguably the best team never to qualify for a WC if you look at average strength over the last 20 years. Clearly, recent versions of Iceland are better, but Iceland sucked for most of the last 20 years.
 

InstaFace

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and the winner of the AFC playoff faces the CONCACAF 4th place. I wouldn't want to be Australia or Saudi Arabia trying to take on Panama or the USA in that scenario, even if it's not as bad as facing CONMEBOL's 5th place.
 

trekfan55

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Panama and Mexico with a scoreless draw. Getting 4 points vs. Honduras on the road and Mexico at home is a good result.
 

Zososoxfan

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Messi had himself a GAME last night. He just totally took over and led Argentina to a huge win over Colombia. He got things started with a NASTY free kick, then setup Pratto beautifully for a header, before setting up Di Maria for a sitter at the end of the game. Mind you, this is all against Ospina who IMO is one of the best keepers in the business.

https://my.mixtape.moe/shkivf.mp4



BONUS: sick Messi run -
Edit: automatically embedded, awesome!
 

InstaFace

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Yeah that game was incredible. Colombia is ranked #5 (F) / #8 (E) in the world, let's remember. But when Messi has a Messi game, it's like facing an in-his-prime Pedro start.

Speaking of CONMEBOL, here's an update now that they're fully 2/3s of the way through qualifiers, 12 down with 6 to play:

Brazil (27) and Uruguay (23) seem well-assured of qualification. In particular, Uruguay has played all 5 of its road matches against the other south american powers, and its 3 remaining road games are against the (relative) minnows, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

That leaves 4 tightly-packed teams fighting for 2.5 spots. In the lead right now are Chile and, somehow, Ecuador, at 20 points each. Ecuador is ranked #31, though they've qualified for 3 of the last 4 world cups. In 5th is Argentina at 19 points, who are gaining steam after a very slow start; their match @Ecuador on the very last matchday may well decide who gets an automatic bid vs a playoff vs OFC vs out of the picture. If things continue as they are, I would not want to be New Zealand having to play off against a pissed-off Argentina; it didn't go so well for them against Mexico last time around.

Currently outside looking in is Colombia, who despite having an incredible array of talent and high rankings have dropped 7 points at home: 0-1 to Argentina, draws to Uruguay and Chile, though they did draw @ Chile as well. To leapfrog up into a bid spot, the key match is @ Ecuador next break, and of course holding serve against inferior teams. Paraguay (15) and Peru (14) still have an outside shot, but would need to loot and pillage from here out to jump ahead of two major powers. Paraguay's match @ Brazil next WCQ break may well decide whether the sun has set on their campaign or not.
 

Titans Bastard

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There's very little doubt in my mind that the 6th place CONMEBOL team will be better than quite a few teams that qualify for the WC from other confederations.
 

coremiller

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There's very little doubt in my mind that the 6th place CONMEBOL team will be better than quite a few teams that qualify for the WC from other confederations.
By ELO CONMEBOL has the top two, three of the top five, five of the top 11, and 7 of the top 20.

Meanwhile, neither Africa nor Asia have a single team in the top 20.

So, yeah.
 

InstaFace

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That's what they get for only having 10 member-country votes in FIFA. They should have taken a bunch of the Caribbean nations into the confederation if they wanted the 5.5 that they probably deserve. Of course, UEFA has plenty of votes and they've still gotten screwed hard. Would make for an interesting thread, as to how you'd allocate WCF bids if FIFA politics weren't an issue.

Meanwhile, over in CAF, no more quallies until next August (!). But after 2 matches, Ghana (1 pt) is already 5 points behind Egypt (6) with Uganda (4) in between them. As a USMNT fan, I just feel awful for those guys. :p Just as shocking, Nigeria beat Algeria 3-1, and Algeria went on to a home draw with Cameroon, so they're now 5 points down too. Two of Africa's top 3 teams (along with Cote D'Ivoire) already looking shaky in their WCQ crunch time.
 

Titans Bastard

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Meanwhile, over in CAF, no more quallies until next August (!). But after 2 matches, Ghana (1 pt) is already 5 points behind Egypt (6) with Uganda (4) in between them. As a USMNT fan, I just feel awful for those guys. :p Just as shocking, Nigeria beat Algeria 3-1, and Algeria went on to a home draw with Cameroon, so they're now 5 points down too. Two of Africa's top 3 teams (along with Cote D'Ivoire) already looking shaky in their WCQ crunch time.
Ah, but don't forget the First Law of African Soccer, which is that nothing is shocking.

CAF qualifiers are crazy and unpredictable and their chosen format only enhances those attributes. Everything depends on the seeding and the draw. If two of the strongest countries happen to be drawn into the same group (because seeding is based on the worthless FIFA rankings), there's no "flex". One is guaranteed to go home.
 

Titans Bastard

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Argentina is up 1-0 early in the second half in a crucial qualifier against Chile.
 

Zososoxfan

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Argentina is up 1-0 early in the second half in a crucial qualifier against Chile.
Argentina really didn't play well this match. The pitch was in terrible condition which is embarrassing considering it was El Monumental, but this game was disjointed and ugly. Argentina started Aguero, Higuain, Messi, and Di Maria up top with Masche and Biglia as a double pivot in front of Otamendi, Rojo, Mercado, and Mas. Argentina had to sub both fullbacks off, so the only offensive change they made was to bring on Banega for Aguero. I know this team is tightly knit, but it's surprising to me not to see Dybala, Icardi, Vietto, Lamela, and Lanzini not on the squad.

Chile on the other hand really missed Vidal. Alexis was the only threatening player going forward and the D was stout led by Medel, but there was nothing in the middle. Pretty shit game from both teams overall IMO.

Edit: Icardi apparently is hated by the team by the Maxi Lopez fiasco. Lamela has been dealing with a nasty hip injury since October. And Dybala apparently picked up a knock recently too. Still would expect Vietto and Lanzini to get some consideration. Not like Perez and Gaitan got on the field anyway.
 
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