by Ari Sweedler
With the 2014 World Cup Brazil™ approaching, many teams are trying to earn the final qualifying spots. Thirty-two teams are allowed to advance to the World Cup, and 21 of those spots have already been taken.
None of Africa’s 5 spots have yet been clinched. As of now, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tunisia seem to be the ones who will take these spots, but we will find out for sure on November 19. All four of the Asian qualifying slots have been filled (Japan, Korea, Iran, and Australia). Nine of Europe’s thirteen spots have already been filled, but France, Portugal, Sweden, and Greece still have not clinched a spot. North Americas’ three spots have been filled (USA, Costa Rica, and Honduras), yet the wildcard is still up for grabs. Unfortunately for Oceania, they only get a single wild card spot, which has been taken by New Zealand. Out of South America’s 10 spots, 5 countries have already been clinched by countries including Argentina, Chile, and, of course, Brazil (the host automatically qualifies).
One group to keep an eye on is Group F in Europe. Group F includes huge contenders such as Portugal and Russia, as well as Israel, who according to Paul Bento, the coach of the Portugal national team, has “Proven that they are a very dangerous opponents for any team.” The other countries in Group F are Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, and Northern Ireland.
Germany and the Netherlands are likely to make it through the group stages, for they both have nine wins, one draw, and no losses, giving them twenty-eight points. While countries, such as Andorra and San Marino, have no points at all.
Another exciting group to watch is Group C, which contains Germany, Italy, and Austria, who are all doing surprisingly well, with five wins, two draws, and three losses. Germany is at the top of Group C with nine wins, one draw, and no losses.
The World Cup will start on June 12 and the finals will take place on July 13. The way in which all World Cups function is quite simple. There are 8 groups (Groups A through F) that compete in an internal round-robin tournament. Each group winner and runner-up then advances to the round of 16. From then on out, each game is single elimination. Winning a game in the round of sixteen puts you in the quarterfinals, and winning in the quarterfinals puts you in the semifinals. If you lose the semifinals then you still get to play for third place. If you win the semifinals, you advance to the finals, where you have the chance to compete for the legendary FIFA World Cup Trophy.
(Source: Fifa.com, USA today, BBC Sports, Fox news)