World Cup Qualifying: Standings and scenarios for Tuesday’s games
World Cup dreams will be realized, dashed or deferred on Tuesday as qualifying continues around the globe.
On the home front, the U.S. booked passage to Brazil last month and then clinched first place in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal with Friday’s 2-0 win over Jamaica. The only thing left to play for on Tuesday night in Panama is a seed next summer. Unfortunately for Jurgen Klinsmann and Co., chances are slim. The top seven sides in next month’s FIFA ranking (beside Brazil) will be anointed.
According to ESPN statistican Paul Carr, the U.S. would have to defeat Panama while the Netherlands loses at Turkey, Switzerland loses to Slovenia, Poland ties or beats England, Ecuador ties or beats Chile and Uruguay misses out on qualifying altogether.
Here’s a summary of what’s at stake elsewhere. Ties in group play are broken by goal differential in all games, goals scored in all games and then assorted head-to-head criteria.
The U.S. and Costa Rica are in. Honduras will join them Tuesday with a draw at winless Jamaica. If Los Catrachos somehow slip up, Mexico could pass them on goal differential with a win in Costa Rica.
The fourth place finisher will contest a home-and-home playoff with New Zealand next month. Panama needs a win over the U.S. and a Mexico loss to have a shot.
Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland are in. Four more will qualify Tuesday, while eight of nine second-place finishers head to next month’s playoffs. Since one of UEFA’s nine groups contains only five teams, each runner-up in the other eight groups will see their results against the sixth-place team expunged.
Croatia is assured of second but not of a playoff spot. It plays at Scotland.
Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic and Armenia are fighting to finish behind Italy. The Czechs are guaranteed to be the worst of the nine group runners-up, however, so already have been eliminated from the World Cup. Bulgaria hosts the Czechs, Denmark hosts last-place Malta and Armenia visits Italy. It’ll be up to the Danes to run up the score in Copenhagen.
Sweden is assured of a playoff place after clinching second behind Germany.
On Tuesday, Turkey will host Netherlands, Romania will host Estonia and Hungary will entertain Andorra.
The Hungarians practically are a shoo-in for three points (Andorra hasn’t scored a goal in any its nine qualifiers), leaving the onus on Romania and Turkey to win at home. Considering Holland’s rampant form, the playoff spot looks like Romania’s to lose.