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England, Spain and Paraguay seal World Cup qualification

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Another busy day of World Cup qualification spanning the globe saw three more teams book their ticket to South Africa. England, Spain, and Paraguay now mean that 11 nations have qualified for next year's competition.

In England, revenge was sweet against Croatia, as two goals apiece from midfield stalwarts Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard keyed a 5-1 romp. Fabio Capello's side has now won all eight of their qualification matches, and could complete a perfect run in qualification if they win their last two games.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain benefited from a slip up from Bosnia and Herzegovina to seal their group. They cruised to a 3-0 win over Estonia behind goals from Santi Carzola, Cesc Fabregas and Juan Manuel Mata, wrapping up Group 5 in UEFA.

Last but not least, Paraguay ensured that Diego Maradona's woes continued, dropping Argentina by a 1-0 score in Asuncion. Nelson Valdez grabbed the game's lone goal, and it was enough to send his country to their fourth World Cup in a row.

Here's a look at some other important results from yesterday:

France 1, Serbia 1

The stage was set for the Serbian team. Playing in front of their home crowd in Belgrade, the upstart side needed to only brush aside a poor French side. Things looked even better when French goalie Hugo Lloris was sent off in the ninth minute and Nejad Milijas scored from the subsequent penalty. Thierry Henry leveled proceedings when the Serbian keeper failed to deal with a long Nicolas Anelka shot. Henry snuck in and tucked the rebound in to earn the draw.

Cameroon 2, Gabon 1

With the struggles of Portugal and Argentina raising the possibility of superstars missing out on the World Cup, Samuel Eto'o scored the game winner to give Cameroon the upper hand. However, they have a one point lead in Group A, just a point in front of Gabon and two in front of Togo.

Bahrain 2, Saudi Arabia 2

The Asian playoff was a wild one out in Riyadh. With the game locked at 1-1 for most of the second half, an injury time goal from Saudi Arabia's Hamad Al-Montashari looked to give the hosts the win. But Bahrain's Ismael Abdullatif netted a last minute equalizer to give the visitors the victory on away goals. Bahrain will face New Zealand for a spot in the finals.

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What do you think of England, Spain and Paraguay booking their ticket? Will those three contend in South Africa? Who is going to make the Cup our of either New Zealand or Bahrain?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. To me, getting a seed is not as important as who else gets drawn into your group. There will always be one high powered team to contend with, it’s the other two that make or break your chances. Although even then you never know, since in 2002 I thought the US would lose to Portugal, tie Poland and beat South Korea!

    It’s still hard for me to believe that teams like Germany, France, Argentina and Portugal might not be at the WC…

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  2. Quick correction: I meant 2002 (S. Korea), not 2006 (Germany).

    But I don’t think weather will play much into it. Watching Spain struggle in the cool weather this summer, not once but twice, against an 80-something ranked South Africa (who wouldn’t have made the WC except for being the hosts) was the kicker. And watching Italy struggle came in the cool weather also. (And if the hot weather really is a problem, then they’re going to be absolutely screwed in ’14 and ’22.)

    Most importantly, I don’t think UEFA teams will get an ounce of support from South African fans. They’ll cheer for the African teams, then the CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, and AFC teams, and any underdog. Unlike 2006, when every Euro team’s fans could completely pack a German stadium because of the short travel distances (and large Euro expat populations), that will not be the case in ’10 and ’14. I’m sure Italy in 2006 didn’t mind that it’s fans could spend heavily on tickets to pack a stadium because they could manage the cheap cost and quick trip of a 6-8 hour train ride north. But will those 30K+ Swiss-Danish-Slovenian-[insert random UEFA country here]’s fans show up in South Africa? I don’t think so. And will all those teams manage the altitude? Doubt it.

    We forget there are always a ton of upsets in every WC. I think with the World Cup in Africa, we can expect even more. I expect the African and CONMEBOL teams to make a big splash with Mexico/US/Australia also doing well.

    AND AS FOR SEEDING, IT IS HIGHLY, HIGHLY UNLIKELY FOR THE USA TO GET A SEED. If 2010 seeding is anything like 2006, seeds are based 2/3 on the past two WC performances and 1/3 on the average FIFA rank over the 3 preceding years to the WC. The USA’s 2002 WC (8th place according to FIFA) is discounted to a more heavily weighed 2006 WC (minimal points for finishing 4th in group). And the USA had atrocious FIFA ranks in both 2007 and 2008.

    I’ve already run the numbers out before, and I can’t remember now, but we’re about 12th or so (may be lower) on the list. There are 8 spots. One goes to South Africa as host. Brazil, England, and Spain are already 100% locks. Italy is a lock when they assuredly will qualify. That leaves 3 left.

    So far, we are behind assorted countries like Germany, France, and Argentina (who are all locks for the remaining seeds if they qualify). We’re also behind about 4-6 other countries. So, the only way we have a shot is if numerous countries collapse all in the last week of qualifying. It’s just not going to happen.

    Sorry for the long post.

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  3. pete r u kidding me? brazil getting a beat up by a european side in south africa? brazil just won their last 2 matches with their B team and won the confederations cup. If u think about it the only logical team brazil could lose against from europe is spain becuz they know how it is in south africa along with having talent and etc. None of the asian teams will do well and expect all the african teams to get out of their groups.

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  4. Brazil played well against Chile but Brazil does not convince me at all.They have six ties in qualifying and could not beat Peru and Bolivia(at home) and made gold out of their few opportunity against Argentina. Brazil will make it out of the first round but will get hammered by a tough European side.

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  5. the only caveat that I would add is that this World Cup will be in the same time zone as the Europe and the weather will be mild and cool (more European-like), not the sweltering heat/humidity of Mexican, American or a South Korean summer- therefore there’s less of an adjustment to be made for the European guys than normal…

    I’m not saying this will have direct impact on who advances and who doesn’t, but it is an adjustment factor…

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  6. Mike – great points!

    I think Espana will do well, but not England. Brazil will dominate. I want South American teams to take over. and USA of course. oh, and Ivory Coast. ok im done

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  7. Well, it could certainly get more interesting if France and Argentina don’t qualify. The latter is unlikely but France is going to finish second in their group and in a two-leg playoff vs. another second place team, who knows?

    And given that the Argentine Federation may very well NOT fire Maradona until after quals, that disaster might actually play out. Then we can all b*tch about Mexico getting the seed again. 🙂

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  8. Listen folks, USA could be 8-0 in qualifying right now and still wouldn’t be seeded. They could have won Confed Cup and been 8-0 in qualifying and still wouldn’t be seeded. The past World Cup performances portion dooms them. They need to have a few good World Cups to start pushing for a seed. So let’s say by 2018 they can get one.

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  9. norstrom: Any evidence on that claim about the seeding? Just curious if that’s your opinion or if there is any empirical justification for what you’re saying.

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  10. enough with the seeding talk already, it ain’t happening!

    South Africa gets one and then there are nine teams with better WC resumes than the US: Italy, Brazil, Spain, England, Germany, France, Netherlands and Argentina and Portugal (if they get there)

    If somehow Germany, France, Argentina and Portugal don’t make it, then there’d be 2 seeds up for grabs… let’s wait until this actually happens and then talk about whether we deserve the seed ahead of Mexico, Croatia, Serbia, etc…

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  11. Count me among the non-believers of England and Spain at the WC. Not because they, by any means, lack the players or the desire.

    We give the US a lot of flak for playing poorly on the road, especially in Europe, and rightly so. They’ve bowed out pitifully in 3 straight WCs in Europe. But on the other hand, a European team has never won the WC when it’s been held outside of Europe. Heck, do European countries ever play road games outside of Europe?

    And sometimes for Europe, it gets as bad as ’06, when South Korea, Senegal, Japan, the US, and others jumped on the beat-Europe bandwagon. Seeing Italy play poorly to go 1-2 and Spain looking mediocre in three matches in the Confed Cup just highlights the fact that European teams just don’t play well outside of Europe. Sure, Europe will still have half the quarterfinalists. But they aren’t going to win it. I’ll put toss my hat right now with Brazil for both ’10 and ’14 until a European club proves otherwise.

    What will be very nice to see is UEFA squirm as the other confederations start demanding more WC slots. They have fought tooth and nail to keep the 13 that they have, but since WC slots are based on WC performance and the next two are outside of Europe, they just might lose one or two unless one of them shows up and breaks the trend.

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  12. Argentinians need to wake up and realize that appointing Maradona was possibly the biggest soccer blunder in the country’s history.

    Posted by: Jorge

    Phewwww. At first I read “their biggest blunder. . .” I was gonna say there might be one or two ahead of that. 🙂 But I agree with greatest SOCCER blunder.

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  13. @ Paul

    Norway can still qualify, but the mathematics behind it might not even be clear until the last games are over. Second place teams may tie their remainding games or last place team may flip flop. I am sure someone can figure it out, but the only other teams that look like they may get 10 or less points after last place points are removed are, Slovenia, France and Greece.

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  14. I am still a little worried about the U.S. becuz what if they lose in honduras which will likely happen and than lose to costa rica!!! who r desperate right now! has anyone been thinking about that besides me! nooooo lol

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  15. Don’t you love FIFA’s self-perpetuating seeding system? Do well in some WCs, and you get a better seed, so you can . . . do well in another WC. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Reminds me of how UEFA splits up TV money. Your share is based on how far you go, and your success in attracting TV viewers. Richer teams do both things better. So they get richer. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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  16. Argentinians need to wake up and realize that appointing Maradona was possibly the biggest soccer blunder in the country’s history.

    Posted by: Jorge

    ===

    I completely agree. Still can’t understand why a great former player, but a coach with so little (and quite poor, at that) experience, was hired for the job.

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  17. Assuming we qualify, we are at least another WC away from being seeded over Mexico imo. It’s all politics, and I don’t think the world is ready to see USA seeded. FIFA will for now just jigger the formula to ensure Mexico is ahead of us. Traditionally the biggest component of the formula is past performance in recent WCs…which surprise, is heavily dependent on whether a team was top-seeded.

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  18. Rory mentioned Scotland’s elimination, after a late goal from Holland and Norway’s win over FYR Macedonia. Does anyone know if Norway still has a chance to go to a play-off? Their group had only five teams, so they play only eight games. I think the rule is that to estblish comparability, the point totals for the other second-place teams are reduced by the number of points earned from the last-place team (i.e., those two games don’t count, only the other eight games do). Is there any scenario under which Norway might go through to a play-off?

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  19. To me, the USA will definitely qualify, so the only question remaining is how we’ll be seeded in the WC. Can someone tell me how FIFA will decide b/w USA and Mexico for the top seed (or Pot A, whatever it’s called)?

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  20. It is so bad and too bad for Argentina given its talent pool. It pains me to see it struggle this way.

    Argentinians need to wake up and realize that appointing Maradona was possibly the biggest soccer blunder in the country’s history.

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  21. Probably should mention that Scotland were officially eliminated last night too.

    Now that Lennon played so well for England, and SWP too, maybe it’s time to officially announce David Beckham isn’t going to South Africa.

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  22. I just hope the US is drawn in whatever group Bahrain or New Zealand are in. The draw, BTW, I believe is less than 3 months away, if it’s still around the beginning of December.

    The streak that England are on is one that should put fear in everyone, including their fans. From their opponents view, they are hot, playing very well, and playing to their maximum. From their fans view, the expectations will be at an all time high… is this the team to bring their second world cup home, is this the team to follow in Robson’s semi-final “hand of God’ loss. Who knows. The World Cup is a funny tournament. They will probably blow it under the immense pressure.

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  23. England looks to be dangerous. Spain will soil the bed as always at some point in the tourney, probably in the Quarters. I wouldn’t want Paraguay or Chile in my Group!

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