Next summer's World Cup in Brazil is starting to take shape as several regions completed qualifying this international break. We'll break down results and what's left to finish off the lineup of teams.
World Cup Qualifying
European qualifying group play is now complete. First place in group qualified directly to the World Cup. The eight best second place finishers will play off in a two leg tie in November with the four leg winners advancing to Brazil 2014 next Summer. The draw for playoffs has yet to be announced.
Belgium beat Croatia 2-1 and tied with Wales 1-1 and won the group . The results, combined with their current ranking should be enough to keep them in the pot of top seeds.
Second place went to Croatia, even with the loss to Belgium and another 2-0 loss to Scotland. Croatia will go to the playoff round, but they'll do it without their coach after the Croatian Federation accepted Igor Stimac's offer of resignation. Niko Kovac has been named as interim coach and will possibly keep the job beyond November.
Former Viola coach Sinisa Mihajlovic coached his Serbia team to third place, but Nenad Tomovic did not see any action this break. He should be ready to go for Juventus
Italy had already clinched the group, but was looking to get results to keep their top 7 rankings and a spot in Pot 1 in the seeding. They got two ties, so it's possible they may stay in the top 7. That ranking will be announced this Thursday.
Alberto Aquilani came in late in the first match against Denmark and scored the tying goal but had a much less convincing game in the second match, playing over 70 minutes and giving up the ball that led to one goal for Armenia. Manuel Pasqual only played in the second match, but went the distance and was largely at fault for the other Armenian goal. Guiseppi Rossi only got in 15 minutes in the second match.
Denmark finished second in the group, but had the lowest point total of the second place squads and will miss the World Cup.
Germany beat Republic of Ireland and Sweden and cruised to the group win. They will retain a top 7 spot in teh rankings and be a top seed.
Sweden won a decisive match against Austria and finished second, moving on to the playoffs.
Netherlands won both of their final matches, qualifying easily, but whether it will be enough to raise them in the rankings remains to be seen
Romania made a miracle run down the stretch, passing both Hungary and Turkey to make it to the playoffs.
Former Viola players Valon Behrami and Haris Sefervoic's Switzerland cruised to the group lead with 2 wins.
Iceland held off Slovenia and Norway for second place.
In one of the closer groups, Russia and Portugal both captured 4 points this break and finished within one point of each other.Russia are through and Portugal will have to win a playoff
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece were tied with 19 points and both squads won both their matches and wind up tied in the group. Bosnia has the greater goal differential and qualifies for the World Cup for the first time in their history.
Greece move onto the playoffs.
England beat Montenegro and Poland to get the group win. Ukraine beat Poland and San Marino to finish second.
It was not a good break for Stefan Savic as his Montenegro side were beaten by England and Moldova and were outscored 9 to 3 and wound up third in the group.. Savic played 90 minutes in the first match against England, but did not play in the second.
With two wins Spain qualify and France, who won thei one match this break will have to settle for the playoffs.
With Brazil already qualified as hosts, top 4 teams automatically qualify while 5th place plays a home and away playoff against Jordan. Each team will play 18 matches.
Argentina won and lost this break, but still finished on top of the group.
Juan Cuadrado's Colombia tied with Chile and beat Paraguay to cinch second place and a top seed. Cuadrado played the entire match on Friday, but came home early and was not on the roster for Tuesday and should be fairly well rested for this weekend.
Chile finished third in the group, with a tie against Colombia and a win against Ecuador. Mati Fernandez got into the second match for about 15 minutes, David Pizarro did not play. Both players had to travel back, however, and how fit they are will be determined before the Juve match.
Fourth place Ecuador beat Uruguay and lost to Chile. They wind up tied with Uruguay on points, but get fourth on Goal diff.
Uruguay wind up fifth and will have to go to a playoff. With a win and a loss, we'll see on Thursday if they did enough to hold of the Netherlands from their 7th place ranking.
Juan Manuel Vargas and Peru finished seventh, with a loss to Argentina and a tie with Bolivia. Vargas played all 90 minutes in each match. That, combined with the travel, makes him not likely to see the pitch against Juve.
Africa have 5 available spots for Brazil and 10 teams are currently playing off for those spots. First legs will be played this week and the second leg will be played on the next break in November
Burkina Faso 3
Ivory Coast 3
Jordan beat Uzbekistan in a barn burner. Both legs finished 1-1 and extra time could not decide the issue and it went to penalty kicks. Jordan won 8-9 and will face the 5h place Uruguay
New Zealand won group play and will play Mexico in a home and away playoff
North, Central America and the Caribbean
USA beat Jamaica and trailed for most of the match with Panama, but scored twice in the closing moments to clinch the group win and knock Panama out of the race.
Costa Rica lost to Honduras but beat Mexico to finish second, while Honduras finished third.
Mexico looked like they were going to left out in the cold, but the American win let them back into the playoff. Hardly an impressive campaign for El Tri. DOS A CERO!!!