France, fresh off a successful albeit ultimately disappointing Euro 2016, secured automatic qualification to the 2018 World Cup after defeating Belarus 2-1 on Tuesday. Goals from Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud confirmed France’s passage from a tricky UEFA qualifying group also containing Sweden, the Netherlands and Bulgaria.
Serbia is back in the World Cup after defeating Georgia 1-0 in its final match of UEFA World Cup qualifying on Monday in Belgrade. The victory gave Serbia 21 points in Group D, enough to finish ahead of second-place Ireland, which edged third-place Wales with a 1-0 victory for a spot in the UEFA playoffs.
For the first time since the 1998-99 season, no manager in Serie A has been fired after seven matches. All twenty teams have decided to stick with their coach, even the terrible ones. It’s a quirk of fate, remarkable only because of the trigger-happy tendencies of Serie A owners past. But there’s one Italian manager who should almost definitely be fired. Unfortunately, he’s the coach of the national team.
For anyone interested in geopolitics, Ukraine competing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was an extremely enticing possibility. Croatia ended that possibility with a 2-0 win over Ukraine on the final day of UEFA Group I World Cup qualifying on Monday in Kiev. Croatia will play in a UEFA playoff in November for a chance to go to a fifth World Cup in six qualifying campaigns.
The Republic of Ireland shocked Wales 1-0 on Monday evening, securing their place in the European playoffs and ending the World Cup dream of the Welsh golden generation. The injured Gareth Bale could only watch from the stands as James McClean’s 57th minute strike hushed a previously electric Cardiff City Stadium and late forays forward proved fruitless for the Welsh.
Iceland's excellent showing at Euro 2016, the island's first major international tournament, turned out not to be a flash in the pan. Iceland beat Kosovo 2-0 Monday to ensure qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia by finishing at the top of UEFA Group I.
The country's transformation into a football nation to be taken seriously has been swift. Just five years ago they were ranked 131st in the world by FIFA.
Poland qualified for the 2018 World Cup with a 4-2 home victory over Montenegro on Sunday, a result that also eliminated Montenegro. More importantly, we saw why Poland World Cup aspirations are so high, as a fantastic team goal to take a 2-0 lead in the 16th minute showed why it’s going to be such a hard out next summer.
Ronaldo’s poor start to the season? Catalonia voting in favor of independence? There is certainly a lot of tumult unfolding in the Spanish capital right now. However, here is one headline Madridistas and others can rejoice in.
Brazilian legend Ronaldo is hands down one of the best forwards ever to have played the beautiful game. Some argue had it not been for numerous unfortunate injuries, “The Phenomenon” would have been the best ever in world football.
Ronaldo started out playing for Cruzeiro in Brazil. It wasn’t long before he caught the eye of mayor European clubs. At only 17, he was signed by Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
Prior to becoming one of the “Galácticos”, Ronaldo played for Barcelona in 1996-1997, when he was La Liga top scorer with 34 goals.
Heading into Saturday’s early UEFA Group A World Cup qualifying match between Sweden and Luxembourg, the Netherlands’ only hope was that the tiny landlocked country wouldn’t get slaughtered by their Scandinavian opponents.