Ahead of the final round of games in the World Cup European qualifying groups tomorrow evening, we take a look at the permutations that will see more of the Chelsea contingent booking their place to Brazil next summer, joining our Australian, Belgian, Brazilian, and German players…
England host Poland at Wembley knowing a win will guarantee they finish top of Group H. If their rivals for that spot, Ukraine, better England’s result – they play San Marino – then England will go into the play-off round. Frank Lampard started for the Three Lions in Friday night’s 4-1 against Montenegro and has been looking ahead to his nation’s vital clash tomorrow.
‘Brazil is one of the homes of football. We believe we are the home of football, but you have to admire their history and the flamboyance they have over there. We played there in the summer and you could feel the magic around the place,’ the midfielder said.
‘If you are playing for your country you want to be at the World Cup there and that’s why it’s a huge game tomorrow. I believe we will hold our nerve.
‘Poland will be relaxed and we have to make sure we have the extra edge as we need the win to go to Brazil. We need to come out firing no matter what they do.’
Gary Cahill is expected to partner Phil Jagielka at the heart of England’s defence again, while Ashley Cole has been ruled out of the game because of the rib injury which also forced him to miss Friday night’s victory.
Spain are within touching distance of earning the right to defend their world title in Brazil. They host Georgia in Albacete knowing a point will be enough to see them top Group I. If Spain lose, then France will pip them to top spot if they beat Finland and have at least a three-goal swing in goal difference go in their favour.
Juan Mata, an unused substitute in Spain’s 2-1 win over Belarus on Friday, has written about the game tomorrow in his latest blog.
‘We will try to win and enjoy being qualified, something we’ve been fighting for since the very first match of this group stage, almost 13 months ago. It hasn’t been easy to get this far and now we depend only on ourselves, so we want to get to our goal.’
Czech Republic, captained by Petr Cech, still have a chance of finishing second in their group. However, if the Czechs do manage to overtake Bulgaria and Denmark to finish behind Italy, they are likely to have the lowest points total of all the nine second-placed teams in the European section of qualifying. As only eight teams proceed to the play-off round, which are composed of four two-legged ties to be played next month, the team that finishes second in Group B will be the one that misses out on qualification.
Though it will be irrelevant in terms of qualifying, Czech Republic will finish second in the group if they win in Sofia against Bulgaria and Denmark drop points at home to Malta.
Branislav Ivanovic’s Serbia cannot qualify, but they will seal third place in Group A if they don’t lose at home to Macedonia tomorrow night.