In group A, Christian Benteke did not play for Belgium, but his side were still able to win the group. Croatia will be in the playoffs.
Group B was the craziest with 5 countries still alive on the final qualifying matchday. Italy won the group, but are not in the top 8 countries for seeding for the first time in their history. Denmark finished second place, but unfortunately for Villa’s Danish contingent of Nicklas Helenius and Jores Okore, the Danes’ record was the worst of all of the runners up, so they will not be in the playoff round to get to the World Cup. It is rather strange to me that UEFA decided to have 9 groups, allowing minnows like San Marino, Luxemburg, Lichtenstein, Cyprus and Andorra, Malta and the Faroe Islands to play, where all of these teams only collected a total of 3 wins between them, and then only having 8 playoff spots available, causing a team to not make it based on a questionable decision. Maybe there should be a playoff round between some of these smaller teams to get into this round of qualifying, rather than eliminating one runner up from a choice of 9 groups. The Czechs finished one point behind Denmark, so Libor Kozák will miss out from this one also. Bulgaria took fourth in this group so Aleksander Tonev also will not play in Brazil.
Germany won Group C with Sweden finishing as runners up, so we will not be seeing Austrian Andreas Weimann since Austria finished third and were eliminated after losing in Sweden last Friday. Also, Republic of Ireland finished fourth so no Ciaran Clark or other potential young Villans who are coming up through the Ireland team.
Netherlands ran away with Group D, winning nine and losing only once. Ron Vlaar will thus play in Brazil, assuming he keeps his spot in central defense for a Dutch side with surplus attacking power but something left to be desired at the back. Romania finished runners up here and will play in the playoff round.
Switzerland were Group E winners with Iceland finishing second.
Russia won Group F, edging out Portugal by a point.
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece both finished with 25 points in Group G, but Bosnia had a goal difference of +24 compared to a +8 of the Greeks.
England topped Group H, sending Ukraine to the playoff round. Hopefully we can see some young Villans break into the England national side, but probably not because Roy Hodgson doesn’t ever leave London.
Group I saw Spain winning and France finishing second.
In CONCACAF, the USA helped out neighbors Mexico backdoor it into the playoff round against New Zealand with two goals in stoppage time. Brad Guzan (finally) got a start in goal in a basically meaningless match, but it is good to see him getting some action in a game that wasn’t a friendly.
Whats your take on this? Do you have a system that would work better for UEFA? Who are you disappointed to not see in the World Cup? Let us know in the comments!