On the face of it, a 1-1 draw with bottom-dwelling, already-eliminated Venezuela in front of 60,000 at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires was a godawful result for Argentina, and it really was. But from a broader perspective there’s a lot more to analyze and discuss than simply draw = bad.
Men's World Cup
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.
25 Stars In Serious Danger Of Missing The World Cup
The United States came into this international break hoping to get at least four points, maybe all six from two matches against Costa Rica and Honduras in World Cup qualifying. You wouldn’t blame the Americans for their confidence, coming into the break with a 14-match unbeaten streak. That confidence is in tatters now thanks to some USMNT defensive struggles, which proved to be contagious for the rest of the team.
For the first time since 2006, Saudi Arabia will be in the World Cup. The Green Falcons, having missed out on the last two tournaments, will return to the world stage after a 1-0 win over already qualified Japan on Tuesday.
Booby Wood, on as a 73rd minute substitute for Darlington Nagbe, salvaged a point for the USMNT against Honduras by scoring his nation’s lone goal in the 85th minute. It took a superbly struck Kellyn Acosta free kick to trouble the staunch Honduran defense, and Wood was on hand to keep the U.S. in the automatic qualifying places — at least for now.
A Panama victory over Trinidad and Tobago later tonight would see the U.S. drop to fourth in the Hex, the spot that necessitates a dreaded inter-confederation playoff with Asia to determine who advances to Russia.
Everyone loves a good dog. Especially when he brings goals.
Moments after a dog wandered onto the pitch in the World Cup qualifier between Colombia and Brazil, Willian opened the scoring with a beautiful goal in a 1-1 draw between the two teams who came into the match atop the CONMEBOL standings.
A dog entering the field during Colombia - Brazil pic.twitter.com/abEH1bZnVB
A 1-0 defeat to Serbia in Dublin has all but destroyed the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup dream following a dire 1-1 draw with Georgia on Saturday — it's safe to say it's been a disastrous week of qualifying for the Boys in Green. For Serbia, Aleksandar Kolarov’s 55th-minute strike has put them in firm control of securing automatic qualification from UEFA’s Group D with two matches to play.
Syria needed a win or a tie Tuesday against Iran to keep its World Cup hopes alive. Down 2-1 going into stoppage time, it looked like the dream was dead.
And then it wasn't.
Absolute scenes. 93rd minute equaliser to keep Syria's World Cup dream alive. Pitch invasion. The works pic.twitter.com/Uk4hIlZebh
— Chris Deeley (@ThatChris1209) September 5, 2017
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.
Belgium's latest qualifier was against Gibraltar (whose record now reads played seven, lost seven, conceded 33), so many are claiming that right back Thomas Meunier is the beneficiary of coming up against the worst international left back of all time. Still, any match in which a defender records a hat trick of both goals and assists should be roundly applauded.