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Sep 01

World Cup 2018 – European Qualifiers pit stop preview

With the Euros only just finished the qualifiers for World Cup 2018 are already upon us. There are 9 groups, with only the winners of each group guaranteed qualification for the World Cup. The top 8 2nd place sides go into the play offs where the 4 winners advance through and join the 9 group winners in Russia 2018. With only 13 European sides qualifying it is a lot harder for the smaller nations to make an impact here.

 

Now I know a lot of you won’t be pleased about the international break interrupting what looks like being a very closely fought Premier League but let’s give Big Sam a chance and get behind the side.

 

 

England will rightly start as favourites to win the group and as long as they don’t have too much of an Iceland shaped hangover should do just that. The Scots have a chance of qualifying but I can’t see them finishing ahead of England and Slovakia look a stronger side than them – stranger things have happened though.

 

For the fans of England and Scotland they have landed a top draw, sun and sea in Malta, cheap beer in Slovenia and Slovakia and of course the home and away tie between the 2 sides should be a cracker.

Wales will still be buzzing from the Euros and will hope to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958. The sides of concern are Serbia, Austria and Ireland so a top 2 finish is certainly achievable. The Irish will also fancy their chances in this group which looks wide open between at least 3 of the sides and Serbia is always a tough place to go.

 

 

The Welsh and Irish also have a good draw in terms of fan experience – the H2H will be electric, Austria is just a beautiful place (but bloody expensive) and I have been reliably informed Moldova is a cracking trip. Georgia and especially Serbia could be a bit tasty but to be honest I haven’t really a clue what the places are like!

Northern Ireland have certainly been handed the hardest draw of the home nations – Germany look certain to win the group with Czech Republic favourites over the Irish for 2nd.

 

I suppose the consolation for the Northern Irish fans is that Germany is always a cracking piss up – the beer is large and strong, what more do you need? A trip to Prague where the beer is cheap as chips? Well luckily for the Irish that is exactly what they have in store! Norway and San Marino will be scenic trips while Azerbaijan seems to be an up and coming destination.

Below are the groups in full and we will look at providing tips throughout the qualifying stages.

 

 

Group A – Sweden, France, Holland, Belarus, Bulgaria, Luxembourg

 

Group B – Switzerland, Portugal, Latvia, Hungary, Andorra, Faroe Islands

  

Group C – Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino, Azerbaijan

  

Group D – Austria, Moldova, Serbia, Georgia, Ireland, Wales

  

Group E – Poland, Romania, Armenia, Denmark, Montenegro, Kazakhstan

  

Group F – Scotland, Slovenia, Slovakia, England, Malta, Lithuania

 

 

Group G – Italy, Spain, Macedonia, Albania, Israel, Liechtenstein

 

Group H – Greece, Belgium, Estonia, Cyprus, Bosnia, Gibraltar

 

Group I – Turkey, Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Finland, Kosovo

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