With only a handful of matches remaining in World Cup qualifying, it’s become clear which nations are in serious danger of missing out on Russia next summer. While all will become clear in October, here are 25 global superstars who, if World Cup qualifying ended today, would either fail to appear at the tournament or would need to navigate a playoff to qualify.
AS Monaco is a bit of an enigma. A French club not actually in France, Monaco’s rebirth dating back to 2011 has taken the club from the bottom of Ligue 2 to the top of Ligue 1, from one extreme of the transfer market to the other.
The summer of 2000 saw the likes of England’s David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, France’s Zinedine Zidane and David Trezeguet and the Netherlands’ Patrick Kluivert all converge for the year’s marquee footballing event: UEFA Euro 2000.
There’s no question that Diego Simeone is the best thing to ever happen to Atletico Madrid. The Argentine’s appointment in December of 2011 ushered in the club’s most successful spell in the modern era. That Simeone has been able to accomplish as much during the height of Lionel Messi’s powers at Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s at Real Madrid only adds to his legend.
This past Saturday, Spain hosted Italy in a World Cup qualifier at the Bernabeu in Madrid. Both sides have won the competition in the post-millennial age and can justifiably feel bitter about being drawn in the same group. Italy, who have a well-established tradition of being utterly awful in the qualifying rounds of international tournaments yet miraculously not losing, are now at risk of finishing second in the group.
The world has changed a lot since the U.S. Men’s National Team last lost a match on Nov. 15, a dark time for America. For starters, the United States saw a great man who has accomplished so much throughout the world replaced by a goofy New Yorker with awful hair. We’re talking about Jurgen Klinsmann making way for Bruce Arena, of course.
When do we begin to take Milan seriously?
Before we continue with this week’s column, it’s essential that we pause for a moment. On Sunday evening, Andrea Belotti did something. Something fantastic. The goal he scored — a first-time overhead volley — deserves a moment of reverence. That’s why the man has a $120 million release clause in his contract. Let’s take a pause here and appreciate the goal.
With Liverpool’s 6-3 aggregate pasting of Hoffenheim on Wednesday, the English Premier League put five clubs in the Champions League for the first time. That’s five chances for English fans to cry over their clubs failing to come through in the continental competition.
Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012 but since then English clubs have barely sniffed the final. In 2015, no EPL team even made it past the Round of 16. The days of 2008 — when the EPL had three of the four semifinalists, including both teams in the final — are barely visible in the rearview mirror.
After FIFA’s strangely inept trials of the Video Assistant Referee system at both the 2016 Club World Cup and 2017 Confederations Cup, it looks as though Germany will once again prove to be an ever-reliable fountainhead for efficiency and mastery, now with regards to using replay technology in football.
VAR decisions have been overly long, miscommunicated and occasionally downright baffling, but before the start of the new Bundesliga season, the German DFB made it clear that they didn't envision these issues plaguing their own use of the system.
Touching is good. It’s a display of endearment, a bonding behavior, an affectionate act.
Touching is bad. It’s a display of aggression, a divisive behavior, a violent act.
Contrary to popular belief, referees are people too. They like good touch. They don’t like bad touch. On Sunday, Cristiano Ronaldo did a bad touch. The referee didn’t like it. Ronaldo is suspended five matches.