The September qualifying matches for the World Cup have started last Thursday and after five days of international football, it is time for the final set of matches.
There will be action all over the world. In all six confederations there are matches to be played, but we will focus on the ones with Manchester United players being part of them. In Europe, matches will be played in groups D, G and I with three teams particularly interesting to us.
Big Day For Serbia, Italy Hope For Miracle
Serbia have not qualified for a major tournament since 2010 and World Cup in South Africa. Since then, Nemanja Matic had two spells at Chelsea, a really successful time at Benfica and he became a world-class defensive midfielder. However, Serbia are now in good position to qualify for the tournament in Russia as they visit Republic of Ireland. A win would mean five points gap between the teams and at least four between Serbia and Wales, should Chris Coleman’s side win in Moldova.
Matteo Darmian will be part of Italy squad hosting Israel. After a heavy loss to a vibrant and Isco-led side on Saturday, Italy have to hope for miracles. Not only do they need to win all of their remaining matches, but Spain should also lose one of theirs. The rivals of David De Gea’s team will be Liechtenstein, Albania and Israel. In Italy, they must hope of even bigger miracle than France’s draw against Luxembourg the other day. Ander Herrera is also part of Spain squad, but it remains unknown how big his chances to start against the Central European minnows are.
Argentina’s Last Call, Ecuador Keep Dreaming
Argentina are sitting in fifth place with three more rounds to play. They have played 15 matches and won just six of them. To make things even more interesting for neutral watchers, Argentina are two points behind the second placed Colombia, yet only three points above eighth placed Ecuador.
The most intense qualifiers have seen 75 matches played so far and we know only two things – Brazil will play in Russia, Bolivia and Venezuela most certainly will not. Everything else is up for grabs and Sergio Romero would really need another clean sheet. After 0-0 draw against Uruguay, los Albicelestes need a win against bottom-placed Venezuela.
On the other hand, Ecuador and Antonio Valencia still have hopes of reaching at least the fifth place. That would lead them to a play-off against winner of Oceanian qualifiers, probably New Zealand.
Ivory Coast In Good Position
Eric Bailly and his Ivory Coast side will have a familiar opponent on Tuesday. After a 3-0 win in Gabon, Ivory Coast will this time host them. It was a very good performance away from home. Doing the same at home would drastically increase Ivory Coast’s chances of securing a place at the World Cup. A win will guarantee them at least two points of advantage before the final pair of games.
The next mini-cycle of qualifiers comes in a months’ time. But before that, we will watch all this players in red Manchester United shirts.