The 2014 World Cup in Brazil kicks off in June and 21 places have now been filled from the 32 available.
Europe has 9 confirmed places with 4 still to play for after Tuesday’s fixtures.
Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England and Spain all confirmed their qualification on Tuesday as respective group winners in the UEFA qualifying section.
Those 4 nations join Belgium, Switzerland and Germany who qualified on Friday and Netherlands and Italy who wrapped up their groups in September.
From South America, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador have qualified, along with hosts Brazil. Uruguay will face Jordan in a double-legged playoff match to determine one more nation.
Costa Rica, USA and Honduras have qualified from Central America, with Mexico to play New Zealand in a playoff. Víctor Manuel Vucetich’s side only sneak into the playoffs thanks to USA’s two late goals to beat Panama 3-2. Mexico picked up just 11 points from their 10 games in a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign. They have played in 14 of the 19 previous World Cup’s (twice as hosts) making them the country to have qualified the most times for the tournament never to have won it.
Japan, Australia (yes, Australia), Iran and South Korea have qualified from Asia.
No country has yet to qualify from Africa which is currently in the playoff stages to determine the entrants to Brazil. The second leg of those games take place between 16-19 November.
As far as I am concerned, no team that has yet to qualify for the World Cup is going to win it. Harsh on Africa maybe, but I wasn’t foolish enough to suggest they would in 2010, unlike the likes of Sunday Oliseh who was bigging up the chances of a nation from the home continent in South Africa for the last World Cup.
In my mind I have narrowed it down to four nations who can win the 2014 World Cup (three more than when I said Spain would win it in 2010).
Brazil, Argentina, Spain or Germany for me. Sure, Belgium are looking tasty but I fear a late of experience will let them down. It’s been a while since they have been to a World Cup and it took a few attempts for this country to qualify for a tournament having been disappointing in both the 2010 and Euro 2012 qualifying campaigns.
Hosts Brazil are 10/3 favourites with the bookmakers so far. After an impressive display at the Confederations Cup this summer they’re hard to write off. But can they go four knockout games without a dip in performance?
Germany are up to second favourites at 5/1. Argentina’s odds have dropped overnight since their reserves lost in Uruguay. Prior to that they had already wrapped up the CONMEBOL qualifying comfortably. Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ángel di María, Ricky Álvarez – they have some of the best attacking players in the world. And coach Alejandro Sabella is getting the best out of Messi in an Argentina shirt.
Cannot write off the Spanish. They never really got going in Brazil at the Confederations Cup. I’m not sure if that was down to the weather or what, but they still reached the final anyhow. They still have a wealth of talent although the core of the squad is ageing now.
Germany looked good in 2010 before being eliminated by Spain in the semi-finals. I thought they were going to win Euro 2012 but were eliminated by Italy in the semi-finals. Can they win the 2014 World Cup? Joachim Löw needs to work on that defence if you ask me but they have so much attacking talent competing for a place.