England has five teams in the Champions League for the first time and amazingly all of them are still unbeaten through three matches in group play. Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham all lead their groups with a combined 11 wins, four draws and no losses.
Sweden are still in the running for the 2018 World Cup. They will have to win a playoff against another UEFA team but have been playing well as of late. Sweden's current squad would be a fun addition to the World Cup, but do you know what would be more fun?
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.
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.