The Half-Time Whistle

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Cloughie goes to Rio

After only a short time in the job, England manager Brian Clough travels to Rio de Janeiro for the draw for the qualifying groups of World Cup 2014.England has been seeded in the 1st group of seeds, along with holders Spain, and, surprisingly, Norway.

1st Group
England
Croatia
Germany
Holland
Italy
Norway
Portugal
Russia
Spain

England could meet France in their group as the 1998 World Cup winners are seeded in the 2nd group.

2nd Seeds
Denmark
France
Greece
Montenegro
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Sweden
Turkey

3rd Seeds
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia
Czech Republic
Hungary
Ireland
Israel
Switzerland
Ukraine

4th Seeds
Albania
Austria
Bulgaria
Georgia
Lithuania
N.Ireland
Poland
Romania
Scotland

5th Seeds
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Cyprus
Estonia
Faroe Islands
Finland
FYR Macedonia
Latvia
Moldova

6th Seeds
Andorra
Iceland
Kazakhstan
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malta
San Marino
Wales

For some inexplicable reason, not only is Israel considered in Europe, but now Kazakhstan is too. Clough surely won’t fancy being the first England manager to visit there.

There are 9 Groups, 8 with 6 teams, 1 with 5.

The first two rounds of seeds have been drawn.

Group 1 – Macedonia, Wales
Group 2 – Armenia, Malta
Group 3 – Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Group 4 – Estonia, Albania
Group 5 – Cyprus, Iceland
Group 6 – Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group 7 – Latvia, Liechtenstein
Group 8 – Moldova, San Marino
Group 9 – Finland

Now for the 4th group of seeds, which includes Scotland and N.Ireland

And the first team drawn out is…….Scotland

Well, they go into Group 1 along with Wales & Macedonia.

N.Ireland get drawn into Group 6 along with Azerbaijan and Luxembourg

With the 3rd group of seeds, Ireland are drawn into Group 3, which includes Austria, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan.

So now after 5 groups of seeds have been drawn, here are how the groups are set out

Group 1 – Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
Group 2 – Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta
Group 3 – Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Group 4 – Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra
Group 5 – Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland
Group 6 – Russia, Israel, N.Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group 7 – Slovakia, Bosnia, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein
Group 8 – Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Group 9 – France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

Now for the final 9 countries to be drawn. I would reckon England will fancy Groups 5, 6 & 7, but let’s see what happens.

For the first country drawn out……Croatia

Group 1 – Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales

Well the games between Croatia v Serbia and Scotland v Wales should be interesting encounters, not to mention Macedonia against either Croatia or Serbia. Belgium are definitely the odd ones out here.

Next country………..Italy

Group 2 – Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta

That looks quite a tough group there, Italy, Denmark and the Czechs battling it out for 2 places

Next up……Germany

Group 3 – Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan

Tough group for Ireland. They’ll be battling Sweden for a play-off place, as you’d expect Germany to win the group

Next country……Holland

Group 4 – Holland, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra.

Hungary and Romania certainly aren’t the power they once were, so the Dutch should take that group with Turkey in 2nd.

Next out of the bag…..Norway

Group 5 – Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland

That looks like quite a weak group there, England would’ve fancied that one.

Next out……Portugal

Group 6 – Portugal, Russia, Israel, N.Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg

Could be close between Portugal and Russia in that one

Just 3 countries to go, and one of them is England

Next…..Greece

Group 7 – Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein

England would’ve really wanted that one. Just 2 groups left and it’s either France or Poland for England now.

Next country……England

Group 8 – England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino

Some old favourites for England there. Poland, who they seem to be up against in nearly every qualifying tournament, Montenegro, who they meet in the Euro qualifiers, and San Marino, Stuart Pearce’s favourite team.

That just leaves……Spain

Group 9 – Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

That’s quite a group. With only 1 definite qualifier, Spain and France are going to battling it out for that.

Matches don’t kick off till 8th September when Poland visit Wembley.

Here is a breakdown of England’s fixtures in Group 8

Poland (H), 8th September 2012
Ukraine (a) 12th September 2012
Moldova (a) 13th October 2012
Montenegro (H) 17th October 2012
San Marino (a) 27th March 2013
Poland (a) 8th June 2013
Ukraine (H) 7th September 2013
Moldova (H) 11th September 2013
San Marino (H) 12th October 2013
Montenegro (a) 16th October 2013

But for now, attention turns to the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championships. England lead Group H, unbeaten but have already dropped 4pts with draws in two home matches against Montenegro and Switzerland. England travel to Bulgaria in September as Montenegro go to Wales. It looks like it’s between those two at the moment.

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