Twenty-one teams have qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Another 11 places remain in play. Here is a breakdown of the qualifying by region. The U.S. wrapped up its qualification in September. The biggest name to miss out may be France.
Qualified: Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, Spain
Playoff (Seeded): Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Ukraine
Playoff (Not Seeded): France, Iceland, Romania, Sweden
Qualifying went about as anticipated in Europe. Two interesting bits here. Iceland, with a population of 320,000, could become the smallest nation to reach the World Cup. 57 American cities have a greater population. That would be the equivalent of St. Louis fielding a World Cup team, except people would root for them. Nothing would unite the world quite like a Greece vs. Iceland playoff.
France, participants in a smaller qualifying group, were not seeded for the playoff based on FIFA ranking. They could be drawn with Cristiano Ronaldo and his ever underachieving Portugal side in the playoff.
Qualified: Brazil (Host), Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador
Brazil qualified as the host nation. Ecuador beat Uruguay 1-0 on Oct. 11, all but securing the fourth place. Uruguay, darlings of the 2010 tournament in South Africa, must beat Jordan in a two-leg playoff to qualify. Luis Suarez will have his diving gear at the ready.
Qualified: United States, Costa Rica, Honduras
This region was settled in dramatic fashion. Mexico, needing a result, lost 2-1 in its final match to Costa Rica. But, the U.S. came from behind in stoppage time to beat Panama 3-2. This flurry kept Mexico in fourth place, with a chance to qualify for Brazil. They must beat New Zealand in a two leg playoff to reach Brazil.
Ivory Coast (3-1) Senegal
Ethiopia (1-2) Nigeria
Tunisia (0-0) Cameroon
Ghana (6-1) Egypt
Burkina Faso (3-2) Algeria
African qualifying can be cruel. Dominating your group enters you into a nervy two-leg playoff. Bob Bradley’s Egypt won all six qualifying matches, but narrowly missed out on being seeded for the draw. They played Ghana, who crushed them 6-1 in the first leg. Burkina Faso has never qualified for the World Cup, or even progressed out of the group stage in the Africa Nations Cup.
Qualified: Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia
Playoff: Jordan, New Zealand
The major teams qualified, though Australia fired its coach Holger Osieck after a 6-0 friendly loss to France. Hard luck for Uzbekistan. The Uzbeks missed out on automatic qualification to South Korea by a single goal on goal difference. They lost the fifth-place playoff to Jordan 9-8 on penalties. No surprise for New Zealand. The All Whites won all six qualifiers, outscoring opponents 17-2. They face Mexico in a play-off to reach Brazil. Worth noting: New Zealand was not defeated at the 2010 World Cup.
[Photos via Getty]
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