And so it’s settled. On November 15, Peru claimed the final spot in the 32-team field for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, bringing us to the final event before the June 14 kick off at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow: the draw to determine the eight groups of four for the finals.
FIFA Men's World Cup
The eyes of the footballing world are set on Lima, Peru, today with only one spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia still up for grabs. That ticket will be punched tonight when Peru hosts Oceania representative New Zealand at 9:15 ET on beIN SPORTS.
After a 0-0 first leg draw in Wellington, Peru (the 10th ranked side on the planet) will be heavy favorites in the return leg, but New Zealand (ranked 122nd) know they are just one vital away goal from causing los Incas all sorts of trouble.
The fallout from Italy’s shock elimination from the 2018 World Cup at the hands of Sweden has been largely centered around two things: the ongoing Italian footballing apocalypse and the minuscule possibility of 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to the fold for Zweden.
Australia captain, defensive midfielder and rugged bearded hero Mile Jedinak had the game of his life, scoring a hat trick to propel the Socceroos to the 2018 World Cup with a 3-1 defeat of Honduras on Wednesday in Sydney. Jedinak scored on a free kick and two penalty kicks before Honduras’ Alberth Elis scored a consolation goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time. The first leg of the intercontinental playoff was a 0-0 draw in Honduras.
For a moment, it looked like plucky Ireland were going to qualify for the World Cup. Shane Duffy's silly goal put them up 1-0 on Denmark at home. All they had to do was see the game out without conceding. But then Christian Eriksen decided he had had enough, as only a handful of players in the world can do, and tore Ireland up on the way to a hat trick, a 5-1 win and World Cup qualification for Denmark.
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People have started to write the obituaries for Italian football.
Italy is a young nation. It has old cities, even older cultures. But, as a country, it was only unified in 1861. That’s only slightly older than the form of codified football we know today. It should be no surprise that Italy has traditionally been so close to football: it’s simply a question of historical proximity.
In the end, the only moment that separated Switzerland and Northern Ireland in their World Cup qualifying playoff was a dubious penalty call awarded to the Swiss in Belfast. Sunday’s return leg at St Jakob-Park in Basel ended in a 0-0 draw with the Irish again looking extremely limited going forward, but Switzerland were entirely wasteful as well, particularly forward Haris Seferovic.
Sweden registered a famous 1-0 victory over Italy in their World Cup qualifying playoff first leg in Stockholm thanks to a deflected effort from substitute Jakob Johansson. The return leg is on Monday in Milan with Italy’s hopes of a 19th World Cup appearance in serious jeopardy.
Johansson’s 61st minute strike was vital, but Sweden’s ability to successfully keep Italy off the scoresheet was just as big. An away goal in Milan would almost certainly be enough to send Sweden through, and this Swedish side has enough talent to go toe-to-toe with the four-time world champions.
Senegal qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia by beating South Africa 2-0 in a World Cup qualification replay on Friday. For the second goal, South Africa capitulated in perhaps the most painful way possible: the shambolic own goal.