Here it is. The final day of the October international matches is upon us. This Tuesday we will find out many more World Cup-bound sides as the final qualifying matches are going to be played in Europe, South America, CONCACAF region and Asia.
However, with the play-off matches scheduled for mid-November not all of the teams going to Russia will be decided. Europe will give us nine group winners, South America top four teams, CONCACAF the three direct places. In a month’s time, the talk will be about the draw. Now, it is about the possibly glorious matches.
Ecuador v Argentina – Antonio Valencia v Sergio Romero
This one is a biggie! Potentially the most heart-breaking story of the World Cup could be Argentina not qualifying at all. The finalists in 2014 are sitting sixth in CONMEBOL qualifiers with three points less than second-placed Uruguay. In the last five matches, Argentina has only one win and this will be their biggest test.
Maybe even bigger than the one against Germany in Brazil. The final match of the World Cup at least means you have already achieved something, but not qualifying for the next one would be a massive disaster. Sergio Romero’s team has scored just 16 goals in 17 matches and now need goals urgently.
Los Albicelestes have been good defensively, with the Manchester United player in goal. Now they need a win if they are to at least secure a spot in the play-offs which would see them play New Zealand when November comes around. Chile, Colombia and Peru are all in front of Argentina, but the direct clash between the latter two could open things up for them. Ecuador – Antonio Valencia will play for them – has already lost all of their chances to find themselves going to Russia.
Netherlands v Sweden – Mission Impossible
And this one is an impossible task. Netherlands have been very poor in recent years. Ever since the World Cup in Brazil and the third place, they are about to miss the second consecutive big tournament. They failed to qualify for France last year and now need a miracle to get to play-off spot that could save their campaign.
However, that miracle really is a miracle. Netherlands need to beat Sweden on Tuesday by a seven-goal margin. Even a 6-0 win for Netherlands would mean the teams have an equal goal-difference, though with Sweden scoring one more than the Dutch.
Therefore, it really is a mission impossible for Daley Blind his team-mates. However, Germany scored seven against Brazil. You just never know with football…
Belgium v Cyprus – World Cup Preparation
Belgium were the first European team to qualify for the World Cup (Russia excluded) and both of their qualifying matches in October have been preparations. After a 4-3 win in Bosnia on Saturday, Belgium play Cyprus.
This match means nothing to both sides and we could see Roberto Martinez change things around. Marouane Fellaini will not be in squad after an injury he earned against Bosnia. Romelu Lukaku could be on the pitch, but it remains unknown if Martinez will force the striker play after an injury in an irrelevant match.