Lost in all the column inches about Lionel Messi’s four-match ban, Argentina’s horrific performance in their 2-0 defeat to Bolivia and their subsequent falling to fifth-place in CONMEBOL qualifying was the passing of the belt to Bolivia in the Unofficial Football World Championships.
Lionel Messi has been suspended from four Argentina World Cup qualifiers (one has already been played) for saying something really bad, either (if FIFA is to be believed) to an assistant referee or (if Messi is to be believed) to the air. Argentina's World Cup qualification may hinge on Messi's excuse holding water.
Well, here's the video, so you can decide for yourself:
The Bureau of the FIFA Council unveiled their proposal for the allocation of confederation slots for the 48-team 2026 World Cup today, and the recommendation will almost certainly be ratified by the FIFA Council on May 9th in Bahrain.
Here is the slot allocation as compared to the 32-team format:
Bastian Schweinsteiger has traveled to Chicago to join the fire, and he has held a press conference, giving rise to the question: could the Chicago Fire win the World Cup now that they have Schweinsteiger?
We identified five factors that we believe are the most important in creating a successful World Cup squad. Let's break it down:
After three straight World Cups of the “Brazilian way” appearing to be nothing more than a fabricated lie engineered by Nike to sell more shoes or a conveniently easy Brazil pregame special for Fox Sports’ Rob Stone, the Brazilian creed of joga bonito is suddenly back in its full glory.
Brazil have become the second side to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, alongside hosts Russia. A team in the CONMEBOL region punching their ticket with over a year to go before the finals, and with four matches still remaining in qualifying, is heinous.
It’s difficult to quantify what exactly has gone down here in Panama City. For one, some sensational work from 18-year-old Christian Pulisic gave the United States a 1-0 advantage. However, Panama went straight back at the other end to equalize, making the scores level at 1-1 after 45.
Here’s what we do know: Clint Dempsey is now one goal shy of Landon Donovan’s all-time mark for the United States. Christian Pulisic is the best 18-year-old in the history of the CONCACAF region. We’ve got a feisty one in Panama City. The second half promises to be a classic.
Mexico took hold of the Hex with a controversial 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Mexico had opportunities to add to their total, but the Soca Warriors will be aggrieved to have had a first half goal incorrectly chalked off for offside.
In La Paz, Bolivia, more than 10,000 feet above sea level, the air is so thin you can almost see Argentina's World Cup qualification hopes floating away.
It's not over yet, of course, but after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bolivia and with Lionel Messi suspended for three of Argentina's four remaining qualifiers, it's not looking good.
We still don't know what Messi said to the assistant referee after Argentina's 1-0 win over Chile Thursday, but whatever it was got him a four-match suspension, curiously announced just six hours before the Bolivia match.
Matchday seven has passed in Asian 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, and the usual suspects have emerged as favorites to gain passage to Russia. Iran and South Korea control their own destinies in securing Group A’s automatic qualification spots, while Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia are vying for the top two positions in Group B.
The only real surprise is Uzbekistan’s standing of third in Group A, meaning that a country that’s never been to a World Cup before is on course for the playoff against Group B’s third place side.