World Cup qualifying: down to the wire

Claudio Villa

Aston Villa supporters interested in watching their players in Brazil will want to pay special attention to UEFA Group B, where three countries hoping to make the playoff round have Villans in their squad.

Quite honestly, I'll be thrilled when World Cup qualifying ends, as trying to figure out the chances of Uruguay sneaking in to the fourth spot in South America is really doing my head in. I gotta say, though, it was much more fun writing about Villans on the road to Brazil than it was writing about Euro 2012, when Aston Villa had like one player involved. Cheers to you, Paul Lambert, for assembling a much more intriguing team over the past year.

Where Villa stands

In: Brad Guzan (U.S.A); Christian Benteke (Belgium); Ron Vlaar (Netherlands)

Out: Andi Weimann (Austria); Ciaran Clark (Republic of Ireland)

Wandering in the wilderness: Libor Kozák (Czech Republic); Aleksandar Tonev (Bulgaria); Nicklas Helenius (Denmark)

What to watch

Uefa Group B
Denmark vs. Malta (8:15 p.m. local, 2:15 p.m. ET)
Bulgaria vs. Czech Republic (8:15 p.m. local, 2:15 p.m. ET)
Italy vs. Armenia (8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET)

Italy's already taken the direct route to Brazil from Group B, leaving Bulgaria and Denmark even on 13 points, with Czech Republic and Armenia just behind on 12. For some reason Wikipedia shows Czech with no chance but Armenia still able to qualify via the playoffs, but trying to figure out why is giving me a massive migraine.

Really, unless Armenia sneak in to the playoffs, Villa fans are the ones that win here. Personally I'm pulling for Denmark, as maybe then both Helenius and Jores Okore could play in Brazil. Plus, who doesn't like Nicklas Bendtner sticking it to Juventus by scoring two goals against Italy?

England vs. Poland (9 p.m. local, 3 p.m. ET)

At this point, who can resist cheering against England? They struggled to break down Montenegro, and only accomplished it once the visitors figured out a point wasn't sufficient, and were forced to quickly change their system. Now they're just a point ahead of Ukraine, who are lucky enough to finish up qualifying with a game at San Marino. A draw would likely be sufficient for England to clinch a World Cup spot -- unless Ukraine put nine past La Serenissima again.

England are dreary and dull. Time seems to stand still while watching their matches. Plus, Roy Hodgson is unwilling to look outside five or six clubs for players. Why should this team deserve our support? Forza Poland.

Panama vs. USMNT (9:30 p.m. local and ET) (I think)

Brad Guzan is set to start against Panama -- but how well do U.S. supporters want him to perform? After all, a Panama win + Mexico loss to Costa Rica means Panama could sneak in to the playoff against New Zealand...and el Tri is completely out of the running.

Uruguay vs. Argentina (9:30 p.m. local, 7:30 p.m. ET) (unless google lies)

This is just a random match that should be fun to catch. Argentina have already qualified, but Uruguay currently occupy the playoff position, three points back of both Ecuador and Chile. There's a highly complex matrix of results that leads to Uruguay managing to snag that last direct ticket to Brazil, but I'll leave that up to you to determine. Have I mentioned my head hurts?

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