Xherdan Shaqiri is the obvious choice for most important player but I want to see a fit Breel Embolo show what he’s capable of again. He has the strength, speed and technical ability to create something special. He may prove too hot to handle for the Northern Ireland defence – no matter how organised they are at the back. I like Haris Seferovic too. He does everything right: great hold-up play, good vision and feet. He just needs to be more clinical in front of goal. Also look out for Denis Zakaria, a defensive midfielder who is definitely one for the future. I think we will edge it, winning both games 1-0. Nikola Simcic … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: fans from around Europe preview the play-offs
Gavaskar 1975 world cup
How Michael O’Neill raised Northern Ireland’s game – in South America World Cup 2018: fans from around Europe preview the play-offs 2) Yellow card peril adds risk to Republic’s challenge in Denmark People do the strangest things when on the verge of glory. Claudio Caniggia missed the 1990 World Cup final for an entirely senseless handball on the halfway line during the semi-final win over Italy. Louis Saha was ruled out of the 2006 final because he managed to pick up a yellow card for a pointless foul during his five minutes on the pitch in the semi. And David Meyler will miss Saturday’s first leg of the Republic of Ireland’s play-off against Denmark after getting booked for crunching into Wales’s goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey near the halfway line in the sixth minute of stoppage time in Cardiff last month. That could prove a costly rush of blood because, that lapse aside, Meyler’s emergence as a fine midfield anchor has been one of the … [Read more...] about World Cup play-offs, final qualifiers and friendlies: 10 things to look out for
USA struggled throughout their campaign and fell 2-1 down to Trinidad & Tobago in their final game. That meant a Panama win over Costa Rica would see them into their first World Cup, and Román Torres struck with only two minutes left. USA dropped to fifth in the table, missing their first finals since 1986, after Honduras fought back to beat Mexico and claim a play-off place, in which they lost out to Australia over two legs. … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: which teams have made it to Russia?
“I am not thinking about Sweden or the World Cup,” he told Sky Sports Italy. “I am just thinking about returning to full fitness as soon as possible. My story with the national team is finished. Maybe I could have done more, maybe I could have done less but my time [with them] has come to an end. Either way it would be beautiful if Sweden reached the World Cup.” … [Read more...] about Zlatan Ibrahimovic: my Sweden career is over even if they reach World Cup
Will Italy be too strong for Sweden over two legs? Will Michael O’Neill mastermind a win for Northern Ireland over a strong Switzerland side? Who will have the upper hand between Croatia and Greece? And will Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland be as clinical against Denmark as they were against Wales? Share your hopes and expectations for the final play-offs with us by filling out the form below. We’ll feature some of your contributions on the site. … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018 play-offs: how do you rate your team’s chances?