Brazil 2014 inches even closer with the upcoming international break. Where we stand right now, 10 of the 32 World Cup spots are filled. By the end of the break, 21 will be secured. So as you can guess, a ton of matches will be played worldwide over the next five days.
NOTE: I only have the October 11 qualifiers on here at the moment. After they’re done, I’ll add the notable October 15th matches, just to narrow the list a little.
And don’t use First Row Sports.
The United States and Costa Rica have already qualified, leaving just one automatic spot and the intercontinental play-off spot against Jordan (the fifth place AFC nation). The margin is slim, as is the margin of error for the three still fighting for qualification.
Honduras vs. Costa Rica, 5pm
Costa Rica’s already in, while Honduras is three points clear in the final automatic spot. A win for them would really put the pressure on Mexico and Panama in their final games.
Mexico vs. Panama, 9:15pm (ESPNNEWS, Univision)
A must-win for the playoff spot, but also an important match for goal differential. A win by two goals or more could put the loser in too big of a hole. Who else can Mexico fire if they fail to qualify?
Let’s start with UEFA. Just a quick reminder about how European qualification works, the nations are separated into nine different groups. The nine group winners automatically qualify for Brazil (Italy and the Netherlands have already won their groups). The eight best second-place nations are then put into home-and-away series for the final four spots.
Group A: Croatia vs. Belgium, 11:55am (ESPN3)
The rest of Group A is eliminated from contention, so Belgium (five points ahead) only has to prevent a Croatia win to qualify automatically.
Group B: Armenia vs. Bulgaria, 10:55am (ESPN3)
Italy has already secured the automatic spot in the group, but four teams are still alive for second place. It’s Bulgaria’s to lose at the moment, while Armenia need a win to stay alive.
Group B: Denmark vs. Italy, 2:15pm
Denmark is only a point out of second and Italy may not start their A-squad. Either way, it’s a must-win for the Danes.
Group C: Sweden vs. Austria, 2:45pm
With both nations currently second and third in the group, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden can secure at least a playoff spot with a victory.
Group D: Netherlands vs. Hungary, 2:25pm (ESPN3)
The Dutch are on their way to Brazil, while three nations are separated by just one point and vying for second. Big game for Hungary.
Group E: Albania vs. Switzerland, 2:25pm (ESPN3)
The Swiss are in the driver’s seat for a third straight World Cup appearance. A win or draw will all but seal it for them. Albania currently sits in fifth, but are only three points out of second.
Group E: Slovenia vs. Norway, 2:40pm (ESPN3)
Slovenia and Norway are both gunning for second as well (one and two points out, respectively). Norway’s looking for their first World Cup trip since 1998.
Group F: Portugal vs. Israel, 3:40pm (ESPN3)
Israel is five points behind second-place Portugal and need a win to stay alive. Their first meeting ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw and Israel will need to replicate that performance to have a real shot here.
Group H: Ukraine vs. Poland, 2pm
Group H: England vs. Montenegro, 3pm (Fox Sports 1)
This group will provide plenty of drama this week. These four nations are separated by only three points, with England currently on top. Just imagine the shock if England somehow failed to qualify. Also imagine Ukraine, who only qualified once in 2006, or Montenegro, who have never qualified, took first?
With Argentina qualifying last month, five teams are left competing for the final four spots. Three of the spots are automatic WC qualifiers, while the fourth is an intercontinental play-off spot against New Zealand (the OFC winner) for qualification.
Colombia vs. Chile, 5pm
If I had to bet, I’d put money on both Colombia and Chile qualifying, but nothing’s certain at the moment. It’s a more urgent match for Chile, who are only two points ahead of Ecuador and Uruguay.
Ecuador vs. Uruguay, 5pm
The winner will be in control of the final automatic qualifying spot. The loser may have to fight off Venezuela for the playoff spot, though they both hold a comfortable lead in goal differential.
Notably the only confederation without any straight-away qualification. The ten group winners from the last round of African qualifying are now paired in home-and-away series for the continent’s five WC spots.
10/12: Burkina Faso vs. Algeria, 12pm
If the Burkina Faso from this year’s African Cup of Nations shows up, they could prevent Algeria from making their fourth World Cup.
10/12: Ivory Coast vs. Senegal, 1pm
Papiss Cisse and Senegal face a huge test in Ivory Coast, who are seeking their third consecutive World Cup appearance.
10/13: Ethiopia vs. Nigeria, 9am
The lowest-ranked nation left in Africa, Ethiopia will need to pull a huge upset to make their first World Cup.
10/13: Tunisia vs. Cameroon, 1pm
Cameroon are two legs away from their second straight World Cup trip and may have drawn the easiest of the top-five teams.
10/15: Ghana vs. Egypt, 12pm (BeIN Sport)
The Black Stars draw the best team out of Pot 2, Egypt. The Bob Bradley-coached side is seeking their first World Cup appearance since 1990.
10/11: France vs. Australia, 3pm
10/12: South Korea vs. Brazil, 7pm
Just two friendlies of note, but between nations who have already qualified for Brazil.