Being handed his Norwegian senior debut at 15 and promised first team training with Real Madrid at 16 was clearly too much too soon for the now 18-year-old Martin Odegaard, but to call the precociously talented midfielder a burn out for failing to disrupt the back-to-back European champions’ starting XI is obviously extremely harsh.
Tuesday sure was wild, huh? CONCACAF CONCACAF’d the sh*t out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers for two insane hours. There was a lot to take in. A lot. Wacky own goals, rampaging ball boys and hugging commentators. And USMNT World Cup dreams dashed. So like Hillary Clinton after her election loss, let’s revisit what the hell just happened.
Lionel Messi, with the hopes of a football crazed nation on his shoulders and the studs of a negative Ecuadorian side in his shins, scored an unfathomable hat trick to send Argentina to the World Cup. What else do you want to hear? What else do you want to know?
You know what Kobe Bryant once said: “You shake a tree and a leopard is gonna fall out.” Well, Ecuador shook the tree. Ecuador's Romario Ibarra netted a nifty little goal off a couple of give-and-go headers and La Albiceleste were off to a nightmarish start. Then the leopard fell out.
Lionel Messi is the leopard. Messi went on to score two goals just eight minutes apart (12’ and 20’) to give Argentina life on the last day of this crazy CONMEBOL qualifying campaign.
Messi goal vs Ecuador #1
The Netherlands were looking for a miracle on Tuesday. As the Dutch stepped on the field at Amsterdam Arena to face Sweden, they knew they needed to win the match by a seven-goal margin, a practically impossible deed.
On the other side, the Swedes aspired to either qualify directly for the World Cup with a victory, a scenario hinging on a France defeat to Belaurs which never transpired, or qualification via a runners-up finish and the UEFA playoffs.
The worrying, hand-wringing and nail-biting from fan boys across the world can stop. Cristiano Ronaldo will be at the 2018 World Cup. Portugal dominated the UEFA Group B title bout for a surprisingly easy 2-0 win over Switzerland on Tuesday in Lisbon. The result put both teams on 27 points, with Portugal earning the group’s automatic World Cup qualifying berth by virtue of goal differential and the Swiss going to the UEFA playoff.
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.
FIFA 18 hasn’t even been out for two weeks yet, but some gamers have obviously devoted the past 11 days to nothing but mastering the flicks, the tricks and the downright h4ckz0r things in the latest installment of EA Sports’ beloved soccer franchise.
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.