Your Guide to World Cup Qualifiers: Preview & TV Guide for October 11-15

We’re getting right down to it. We’re under two months away from the FIFA World Cup draw in Brazil, and during these next two months, the field for the greatest sporting spectacle on the planet will be finalized. For some countries, these last World Cup qualifying group games will be blissfully academic. For some, the World Cup starts now.

Here’s a preview of what’s at stake for Friday and Tuesday’s upcoming games, as well as TV listings for those games shown in the United States.

All times Eastern.

EUROPE – UEFA

Group A:

At this late point in the game, the goings on in Group A are just formalities. Belgium are on the cusp of their first World Cup trip since 2002, five points clear at the top of the group. While Belgium just need to secure one win to punch their ticket, they’ll be going for victories in both of their games. Belgium are currently in line to be seeded for the World Cup draw, a major achievement for a country that hasn’t seen major tournament action in over a decade. Belgium have become such hot dark-horses for Brazil, they can barely be considered dark-horses at all anymore. Croatia will finish second and go into the playoffs, most likely, unless Belgium slip spectacularly. The other four teams in the group have been eliminated, including Serbia, Scotland and Wales.

Friday, October 11
Croatia vs Belgium, Noon, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN.com, ESPN3.com

Tuesday, October 15
Serbia vs Macedonia, 2:30pm, ESPN3.com
Scotland vs Croatia, 3pm, ESPN3.com
Belgium vs Wales, 3pm, ESPN3.com 

Group B:

Italy have won the group, and the Azzurri are almost assured of a seed for the draw. Most of the commotion in the camp has been around the uncertain future of transformative manager Cesare Prandelli and that of bad-boy striker Mario Balotelli. The race is for second, and three teams are still in it. Bulgaria lead the pack on 12 points, and two wins would render the chase dead. However, Denmark lurk on 11 points, and by the skin of their teeth Morton Olsen’s team has revived a once dead qualifying campaign. Czech Republic are three points off the pace, but that deficit could be erased with a victory over Bulgaria in Sofia on Tuesday. Denmark has two home games, but it’s Italy in Copenhagen on Friday, while Bulgaria play Armenia before the Czechs. There’s everything to play for, and it’s impossible to pick a winner at this stage.

Friday, October 11
Armenia vs Bulgaria, 11am, ESPN3.com
Malta vs Czech Republic, 1:30pm, ESPN3.com
Denmark vs Italy, 2:45pm, RAI International 

Tuesday, October 15
Bulgaria vs Czech Republic, 2:15pm, ESPN3.com 

Group C:

Germany just need one win to book their place and a seed for the World Cup, while the race for second is between Sweden and Austria. The Swedes lead by three points, but they face a home game against Germany on the last day of qualification. Sweden will hope for Germany to win on Friday and clinch, making their game unimportant for the formidable visitors. But the decisive game could be on Friday, when Sweden and Austria meet at the Friends Arena. A win for Sweden would see them into the playoffs, while a win for Austria would make Austria favorites, as they play the less formidable Faroe Islands on Tuesday. A draw works in Sweden’s favor, but only if they can get a result against Germany.

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5 Comments

  1. Rick October 10, 2013
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  3. Tony Butterworth October 10, 2013
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  5. San Fransiscan October 11, 2013

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