On November 20, we’ll know all 32 nations competing in next summer’s World Cup. And with only 11 spots remaining, the final qualifiers should be intense. At least we hope they are. The intercontinental playoff legs began yesterday and virtually guaranteed trips to Brazil for both Uruguay and Mexico. More on those down below.
I want to look ahead to next year’s tournament for a second, specifically the seedings for the World Cup draw on December 6. A little primer on how the draw is set up this time around:
- The 32 teams are separated into four pots of eight teams each: Pot 1 contains the host nation (Brazil) and the top seven teams based off of last month’s FIFA World Rankings. With Uruguay’s performance today, it’s safe to say that they’ll be included here along with Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, and Switzerland.
- The other three pots are separated by confederations: Pot 2 will likely have the qualifiers from AFC (Asia) and CONCACAF (North America). Pot 3 will get CAF (Africa) and the non-seeded CONMEBOL nations (South America). Pot 4 will get the non-seeded UEFA qualifiers.
Long story short, it looks like we’ll get a few Groups of Death next summer. Since FIFA eliminated past World Cup performances from the criteria deciding the top-seeded teams, we get teams like Switzerland, Colombia, Belgium, and Switzerland in Pot 1. It’s great news if you love competitive matches early on (which the tournament can certainly use), but for fans of the United States, it will almost undoubtedly be brutal.
Try out this interactive draw five times and what do you get? Here’s what I got.
- U.S., Colombia, Russia, Greece
- U.S., Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal
- U.S., Uruguay, Cameroon, Netherlands
- U.S., Germany, Ivory Coast, Netherlands
- U.S., Belgium, Cameroon, Italy
Only 209 more days, folks.
Intercontinental Playoffs (November 13, 20)
Jordan vs. Uruguay, 11am
Uruguay finally played up to their potential and handled Jordan.
Mexico vs. New Zealand, 3:30pm
El Tri dispelled all doubts today. They took the long way, but they’re Brazil-bound.
CAF (November 16-17, 19)
November 16: Nigeria vs. Ethiopia, 10am
Nigeria netted two away goals last month and look to be in good shape here. Ethiopia still has an outside shot at their first World Cup though.
November 16: Senegal vs. Ivory Coast, 2pm
Ivory Coast comes into Senegal with a 3-1 lead and are looking for a third straight World Cup appearance. If Senegal can pull the upset at home, they’ll make their second World Cup trip.
November 17: Cameroon vs. Tunisia, 9:30pm
An away goal would have been great for Cameroon, but now they have to win it in the second leg. Even at home, it won’t be easy.
November 19: Egypt vs. Ghana, 11am
With a 6-1 lead, the Black Stars are well on their way to another World Cup.
November 19: Algeria vs. Burkina Faso, 1:15pm
Traveling to Algeria with a 3-2 lead, Burkina Faso could earn their first World Cup berth.
UEFA (November 15, 19)
Greece vs. Romania, 3pm (ESPN 3)
Strange to think that Greece have only made two World Cups. Romania is looking for their first appearance since 1998.
Iceland vs. Croatia, 3pm (ESPN 3)
A Croatia berth would bring midfielders like Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić to Brazil, but seeing Iceland in the World Cup would be great.
Portugal vs. Sweden, 3pm (ESPN 3)
In a showdown between two of the world’s best, let’s hope that Christiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic go goal-for-goal for a possible trip to Brazil.
Ukraine vs. France, 3pm (ESPN 3)
France is eager to get back to the World Cup to avenge the embarrassment that was 2010. They can’t overlook this Ukraine squad though.
International Friendlies (November 14-19)
November 14: Belgium vs. Colombia, 3pm (ESPN 3)
November 15: Italy vs. Germany, 2:45pm
November 15: England vs. Chile, 3pm (Fox Sports 1)
November 15: Scotland vs. United States, 3pm (ESPN 3)
November 15: Argentina vs. Ecuador, 7pm
November 16: Japan vs. Netherlands, 7:15am
November 16: Brazil vs. Honduras, 7:30pm
November 18: Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 10pm
November 19: Australia vs. Costa Rica, 3:30am
November 19: Russia vs. South Korea, 9am
November 19: Austria vs. United States, 2pm
November 19: Netherlands vs. Colombia, 2:30pm (ESPN 3)
November 19: England vs. Germany, 3pm (Fox Sports 1)
November 19: Belgium vs. Japan, 3pn
November 19: Brazil vs. Chile, 8pm