With just over a year to go, the World Cup in Qatar is defining its qualifiers.
The host country has a guaranteed place. In South America, Brazil stamped its passport after beating Colombia, on Thursday (11), by 1-0, in São Paulo.
Two other world champion teams, Germany and France, also ensured the classification.
The French (current world champions), this Saturday, with an 8-0 rout over Kazakhstan. The Germans had already secured themselves in the previous round of the European Qualifiers, as well as Denmark and Belgium.
In Europe, each of the ten groups offers a direct seat, to the winner of the bracket, to the World Cup in Qatar. The runner-up must play a recap.
And there are renowned teams in the old continent that run the risk of not winning their groups, putting themselves in an uncomfortable and dangerous situation in the race for the Cup.
These are the cases of Italy, world champion in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 and current European champion, Spain, champion of the 2010 World Cup, Portugal, European champion in 2016, and the Netherlands, world runner-up in 1974 , 1978 and 2010.
Italians and Dutch, absent from the World Cup in Russia, in 2018, had in their last games stumbling blocks that complicated them.
Squadra Azurra drew at home 1-1 with Switzerland, in a game in which defensive midfielder Jorginho, candidate for best in the world this year, wasted a penalty.
The result left the Italians and Swiss with 15 points, and the definition of Group C will be this Monday. Italy visits Northern Ireland, and Switzerland welcomes Bulgaria.
Away from home, the Netherlands, after opening 2-0 over Montenegro, allowed the opponent to draw in the final part of the match, letting the classification slip.
The Dutch still depend on themselves, but they risk not getting a spot even in the repechage.
They are in the lead of Group G, with 20 points, and Norway and Turkey are with 18. This Tuesday, the duels are Holland x Norway (which will play without the star Haaland, injured) and Montenegro x Turkey.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, drew a goalless draw with Ireland in Dublin, and will decide their future this Sunday, in Lisbon, against Serbia. The two countries have 17 points in Group A.
Spain could be worse off. By beating Greece 1-0, they moved up to 16 points in Group B and overtook Sweden, who stumbled after losing to Georgia (2-0) and kept up with 15. The Spaniards and Swedes are in direct confrontation this Sunday in Seville.
Also this Sunday, Croatia, by Modric (best player in the world in 2018), who is currently runner-up in the world, will decide whether to go straight to the Cup.
The Croatians receive Russia, in Split, needing to win, as they have 18 points, against the opponent’s 20, in Group H.
Among the teams that have already been world champions, the most favorable scenario is England, who have 23 points in Group I, three ahead of Poland.
A tie this Monday, in San Marino, against the fragile local team (210th and last placed in the FIFA ranking, led by Belgium), is enough for top scorer Harry Kane and company to be in Qatar at the end of 2022.
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