Ok folks, after the final qualifiers on November 14th and 18th, we will know exactly who will be partaking in El Mundial in June. The only qualifiers left are the UEFA playoff legs, the final African qualifiers, and the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Playoff legs. We'll be covering these regions closely. Here's my quick take on what is going to go down in UEFA:
Russia vs. Slovenia - Russia showed during qualifying that had they not been grouped with Germany, they would have been dominant. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, but these last two games should be a formality. Expect Russia to get through with relative ease.
Portugal vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina - Portugal barely pulled it together just to make it to the playoffs. It's hard imagine the World Cup without CR9, and I don't expect them to lose this match up. Bosnia-Herz is just overmatched. Don't expect Portugal to do too much damage in June though.
Greece vs. Ukraine - The match up that I'm most looking forward to given my Greek heritage. Also, because it should be very close. Greece is probably the most boring soccer team to watch, as they grind out low scoring games with unstylish play and scrappy defense. Ukraine stars one of the most feared strikers in the last decade in Andriy Shevchenko, and much like Russia, if not grouped with England, might have won most other groups outright. My heart says Greece, but my head is taking Ukraine.
Ireland vs. France - This is probably the most anticipated match up. France is a powerhouse that's a World Cup staple. Ireland is taking on an "us against the world" mentality after FIFA gave them the shaft and declared seeding a reality half way through. I'm going with the upset pick, and France is going to be watching this world cup from home this June.
We're about to book flights in less than a month here. Let me tell you know, my funding's going to take a serious hit. If anyone knows anyone with flight hook ups, please let us know.
Until next time...