Yesterday morning saw the last of the World Cup final qualifiers and as the dust settled there were a number of huge shock casualties failing to qualify for the world’s biggest footballing competition, taking place in Russia next year.
Arguably the biggest scalp of them all were the Netherlands, missing out on qualification by goal difference to the Swedes. They had a real mountain to climb going into Tuesday night’s fixture vs Sweden – they needed to beat the Scandinavians by seven goals in order to leapfrog their superior goal difference. Sadly it wasn’t to be and they only managed a 2-0 win, which meant it was goodbye for Robben’s men for another four years and this presumably also spells the end for their manager, Dick Advocaat.
The most eventful set of qualifying fixtures were over in South America, two big guns were touch and go on qualification; Messi and his Argentina team needed to beat Ecuador away from home and at over 2,800 metres above sea level, whilst Sanchez’s Chile had the big ask of getting a result away at Brazil to secure qualification.
Argentina got off to a terrible start and were one nil down after just one minute! Lionel Messi wasn’t having any of that though – he really fancied that holiday to Russia next summer and decided to pop up and score a hat trick to seal a 3-1 victory and take Argentina to the finals. A relief to football fans all over the world, as a World Cup without arguably the best player ever would be a tragedy.
Chile sadly didn’t have the fortune of having Messi playing for them and Sanchez and company couldn’t manage a result, losing convincingly 3-0. This was a huge shock around South America, as it was no more than a year ago that Chile were crowned champions of the continent, winning the Copa America 2016.
Moving North into North and Central America qualifiers (CONCACAF), USA had it easy. They needed to finish top three (out of six) to qualify automatically or failing that they could finish forth and still get into the playoffs. The self acclaimed, “greatest nation on earth” were up against minute countries in comparison, in their group, including Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago – surely the script was written in stone? Not quite.
They needed to get a draw against Trinidad and Tobago to guarantee qualification, pretty simple when you think USA is a population of 320 million compared to Trinidad’s 1.3 million. Trinidad and Tobago had other plans and went on to win only their second game of the campaign, beating the USA 2-1 and knocking them out in a real case of David vs Goliath.
Finally it’s off to Africa, where the reigning African Cup of Nations champions, Cameroon, failed to qualify back at the start of September. Meaning that the champions of South America (Chile), North and Central America (USA) and Africa (Cameroon) will be missing out on the world’s centre stage for football.
It just goes to show what an unpredictable game football is – Trinidad and Tobago for example were 10/1 outsiders to beat USA. There’s always one winner and that is the bookmaker. Or at least that used to be the case, one educational company has sprung onto the scene in the past year and a half and are focused around teaching you how to profit from football, regardless of the outcome of football matches.
It’s called matched betting and Teamprofit.com provide all the learning material completely free, for those moments where Messi isn’t there to save the day!