World Cup: Spain, England and Portugal among big hitters under threat of missing out on Brazil 2014

With qualification for the 2014 World Cup moving into the business end, we span the globe to see which teams can book the hotel in Rio, and the others who might be relying on last-minute flights

The World Cup qualifiers have thrown up their usual mix of predictable results, small-nation drubbings and occasional upsets.

With just under 18 months until the showpiece kicks off in Rio, who has one foot on the plane already, and which nations are scrambling for qualification to 2014's festival of football?

 

EUROPE

The top story in Europe comes from Group I, as two home draws have seriously dented reigning World Champions Spain's hopes of finishing top of the group. Vincete Del Bosque's men, who are two points off Tuesday's opponents France in second, graciously allowed Finland to leave Iberia with a point on Friday, and may have to settle for a playoff place to defend their trophy.

Should that fate befall them, they may be joined by England in the dreaded playoff shake-up. Despite a morale-boosting 8-0 win in San Marino, Roy Hodgson's men will also have a date with destiny on Tuesday, as a contest with their group leaders in Montenegro awaits them.  

Hotel rooms have already been booked along the Copacabana beach for Holland and Germany, who are both five points clear of their respective groups (C and D). Only a collapse of epic proportions would see them surrender their place at football's top table, while Fabio Capello's Russia look odds-on to join them - four points clear with a game in hand gives them control in Group F.

Manchester City fans may say goodbye to striker Edin Dzeko this summer, but his first destination may be Brazil as Bosnia-Herzegovina look primed to reach their first tournament, sitting thee points clear of Greece in Group G. His former City colleague, Mario Balottelli, will want to replicate his dazzling Euro 2012 in Rio, but Italy's place is far from certain with only a point separating the Azzuri and second-place Bulgaria in Group B.

European Championship semi-finalists Portugal seem to be the most likely high-profile failure. Cristiano Ronaldo may not be able to showcase his talent at the tournament hosted in his countries spiritual ally, but after claiming an away draw in Israel after being 3-1 down on Friday, Paulo Bento's side have given themselves a chance of grabbing second spot.

In Group A, there's a straight fight between Belgium and Croatia - both on 13 points - for the top spot, with Wales their closest challenger seven points behind. The tight nature of Group E makes it the most interesting league, despite the lack of a superstar name, with only four points separating Switzerland (11) in first and Norway (7) in fourth place.

The eight best runners-up in the group stage will be drawn together to contest a two-legged playoff, leaving the worst runner-up out of the equation. The four winners of the playoff will reach the World Cup.  Working out the best runners-up will not include their matches with the worst ranked team in their group. There has been no announcement to seed the draw at this stage.

 

Group A (played, points)

Belgium 5 13

Croatia 5 13

Wales 5 6

Serbia 5 4

FYR Macedonia 5 4

Scotland 5 2

 

Group B

Italy 4 10

Bulgaria 5 9

Denmark 4 5

Czech Republic 4 5

Armenia 3 3

Malta 4 0

 

Group C

Germany 5 13

Sweden 4 8

Austria 4 7

Republic of Ireland 4 7

Kazakhstan 5 1

Faroe Islands 4 0

 

Group D

Netherlands 5 15

Hungary 5 10

Romania 5 10

Turkey 5 6

Estonia 5 3

Andorra 5 0

 

Group E

Switzerland 5 11

Albania 5 9

Iceland 5 9

Norway 5 7

Cyprus 5 4

Slovenia 5 3

 

Group F

Russia 4 12

Israel 5 8

Portugal 5 8

Northern Ireland 4 3

Azerbaijan 5 3

Luxembourg 5 2

 

Group G

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5 13

Greece 5 10

Slovakia 5 8

Lithuania 5 5

Latvia 5 4

Liechtenstein 5 1

 

Group H

Montenegro 5 13

England 5 11

Ukraine 4 5

Poland 4 5

Moldova 5 4

San Marino 5 0

 

Group I

France 4 10

Spain 4 8

Georgia 5 4

Belarus 4 3

Finland 3 2

 

SOUTH AMERICA

With Brazil already qualifying as hosts, the spot that is usually theirs is up for grabs. Argentina are as good as through, leading the way with 23 points. Three others have an automatic passage to the event, while the fifth placed nation will contest a playoff with their Asian equivalent.

Those in the hotseat alongside Alejandro Sabella's charges are Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay, although the latter will be disappointed with their campaign after being the highest-placed Latin American team in South Africa three years ago. A laboured 1-1 draw with bottom side Paraguay last time out means that the Copa America holders are not home and dry yet. In fact there are only five points between the two sides, leading to a congested group and all to play for.

Venezuela occupy the play-off spot with 12 points, but only lead Chile on goal difference and seventh placed Peru by one point. A tricky home game to second place Colombia on Tuesday will test their World Cup credentials.

 

Table (played, points)

Argentina 10 23

Colombia 9 19

Ecuador 9 17

Uruguay 10 13

Venezuela 10 12

Chile 10 12

Peru 10 11

Bolivia 10 8

Paraguay 10 8

 

AFRICA

Africa is still in its second stage of qualifying, with ten group winners moving on to the final stage to compete for five places at the tournament. As expected Ivory Coast, African Cup of Nations winners Nigeria, Egypt and Cameroon top their respective groups.

Ghana, however, are slightly off the pace in Group D as they lie second to AFCON finalists Zambia. The 2010 hosts, South Africa, are also in danger of not making Brazil, finding themselves five points off Group A pacesetters Ethiopia. Other group leaders are Tunisia, Mali, Congo and Senegal.

 

ASIA

An away win in Jordan on Tuesday will see Japan as the first nation to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. A victory over the bottom side would put them on 16 points - an unobtainable total in Group B. Australia, the group favourites at the beginning, are struggling badly, amassing only five points from their four games so far. In a congested table, goal difference still sees them in second place, while Iraq occupy the playoff berth.

Group A is even tighter, and only four points separates leaders Uzbekistan (8) and basement nation Lebanon (4). Korea Republic, Iran and 2022 hosts Qatar sit in between with seven points apiece.

 

Group A (played, points)

Uzbekistan 5 8

Korea Republic 4 7

Iran 5 7

Qatar 5 7

Lebanon 5 4

 

Group B

Japan 5 13

Australia 4 5

Iraq 5 5

Oman 5 5

Jordan 5

 

AMERICA & CARIBBEAN

Each nation has only played two games each, so the contest is still in its infancy. Honduras lead the way on 4 points, surprisingly coming out victorious over second place USA. Panama, Mexico and Jamaica have two points each, while Costa Rica prop up the rest with a solitary point.

 

OCEANIA

New Zealand seem certainties to progress after their impressive 2010 showing, winning all five of their games so far. New Caledonia are hoping to cement themselves in second place to secure a playoff date with and American or Caribbean counterpart.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders