The world cup qualifiers are in full swing, and we’re all glued to our screens waiting to see how the finals will shape up.
Here are some of the things that we’ve learnt from spending the last few weeks on our sofas.
Argentina clearly have a great attack, with a lot of strength going forward. The likes of Messi, Aguero, Di Maria and Dybala have been causing defenders serious problems. Their defence, however, has left a lot to be desired with Otamendi and Mascherano looking like small fish in a big pond. We expected more from this combination, but instead of following a classic Liverpool performance, resulting in 3-3 against the bottom of the league, the inevitable 0-0 is leading your lovely accas down the drain. With this in mind, Messi turned up when it mattered most, scoring a hat-trick to take Argentina to the world cup in a 3-1 victory against Ecuador.
Belgium have emerged as the dark horse of the qualifiers, Lukaku has taken his fine form from United and transferred it over to the national side. Hazard looks to be back near his best and there is some real solidity at the back in the form of two epic centre-backs, Alderweireld and Vertonghen. Despite this strong core, they still remain as a somewhat unpredictable team with none of us ever quite knowing how they will perform on the day. It seems the common trend for a Belgium national side is great individual talent, with team cohesion letting them down. Is this down to Martinez? Everton did get rid of him for a reason…
Let’s be honest no one really cares about England, the side seems to let the nation down year after year, no more so than when crashing out of the most recent Euros after a defeat to Iceland. Despite Harry Kane finding the form of his life, there is never a true belief in the England side. They’ve sailed fairly smoothly through, largely due to their pairings with weak oppositions contributing to matches that are somewhat forgettable. If they manage to keep it together, we wouldn’t put it past England to slide through the world cup with a few 1-0’s.
Both Scotland and Wales went into their final game knowing their destiny was in their own hands. Scotland needed a win whilst Wales needed a draw. On the night neither team performed, with a mistake by Wales and poor defending from Scotland meaning they missed out on the play-offs. Northern Ireland were the weakest of the home nation sides on paper, however they reached their play offs with ease and their incredible home record lead them to victory. Let’s see how they get on when the tournament comes around.
Now that the international break is over, we return to league football, and what a weekend we have ahead of us! Liverpool vs Manchester United, Inter Milan vs AC Milan, and Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona. In the Premier League the two Manchester clubs look to maintain their flying form at the top of the table, whilst 3rd place Spurs continue to keep the pressure on thanks to Harry Kane, scoring 15 goals in his last 10 appearances. 4th place Chelsea faces a Crystal Palace side that has set new records, in all the wrong ways, failing to score a single goal so far this season, consequently losing 7/7. It’s hard to see past City and United both being near the top come the end of the season, scoring 43 goals between them and conceding just 2 each. However, it’s worth noting that at this stage last year, the reigning champions Chelsea were down in 7th position and we all know how that ended up.