There’s already been drama and upsets in the first round of internationals with Holland losing to Bulgaria, Brazil dominating South America, the USA finally getting on the board (in style) and Taylor breaking Coleman’s leg. So what now?
England v Lithuania
England looked promising against Germany but could not make their sustained pressure and possession pay. So really nothing has changed except the formation. It would seem unnecessary to play five at the back against European minnows so expect the full backs to play as wingers this evening at Wembley. Dele Alli and Lallana will look to pull the strings again and it should be a comfortable win for England. 3-0.
Germany should make short work of Azerbaijan away, leaving room for the Czechs to move into a more promising position with a win over San Marino. In England’s group Slovakia should do the same with a win against island minnows Malta. Sunday’s biggest game is arguably in group E where table toppers Poland play second place Montenegro and third play fourth. A win for Romania or Denmark could move them into a play-off spot.Home nations Scotland and Northern Ireland face tough games against Slovenia and Norway respectively and a loss for either could seriously dent qualification hopes. The halfway point should provide a clearer picture but there’s still a lot to play for.
El Tri look to maintain their position at the top of the CONCACAF table, facing a nation against which Peter Crouch once scored a hattrick, so expect goals. There should also be a win for second placed Costa Ricaagainst bottom of the table Honduras, who lost 6-0 to the USA last time out. Bruce Arena’s men could leapfrog Panama with a win to enter the automatic qualification spots. Realistically come October they should be the top three.
Brazil should beat Paraguay at home to all but seal their qualification, while the next five in the standings fight it out for World Cup places. Expect Argentina to beat Bolivia and Chile to eliminate all hope for whipping boys Venezuela. Columbia v Ecuador is the tie of the week and I expect Ecuador to end the international period outside the qualification spots in 6th.