Andre Villas-Boas, like all Premier League managers, would probably prefer it if none of his players was involved in such important games for their countries but he knows that there are still a number who are hoping to join those who have already secured their passage to Brazil.
With this evening’s final round of games for qualification for next summer’s World Cup Finals in Brazil, a number of Tottenham players are in contention to make it directly into the draw as winners of their group or as runners-up they will be in the last chance saloon of the play-offs.
Only Spurs’ England contingent of Kyle Walker, Jermain Defoe and Andros Townsend can still qualify directly for the World Cup Finals. The other Tottenham players involved are hoping to reach the Brazil through the play-offs. England know that a win over Poland will guarantee their qualification. Probably only Townsend after his impressive debut will be involved in that game, although there is a slight doubt due to an injury concern. Walker is definitely out, suspended after picking up a booking in the win over Montenegro on Friday. Defoe is spending his time on the bench with a number of the younger strikers in good club form and impressing on Friday. If England fail to win they will face home and away play-off matches in November.
Roberto Soldado who wasn’t included in the Spain squad this time will be hoping that Spain complete their qualification and that he can regain his place in time for the finals.
Gylfi Sigurdsson scored as Iceland defeated Cyprus and retained their second place in Group E. They need to win in Norway to be sure of retaining the runners-up spot but they will be encouraged that Slovenia who are the only team who can challenge them are away to the group winners, Switzerland.
Christian Eriksen and the Denmark team could rue Italy’s late equaliser as they remain 3rd in Group B with Bulgaria ahead on goal difference. Denmark need to win their home game against bottom team Malta and hope that Bulgaria who had two players sent off in Friday’s defeat fail to take three points in their home game against the Czech Republic.
Vlad Chiriches and Romania are in a similar situation to Denmark as they have to rely on Turkey slipping up in their final match at home to the Netherlands who are undefeated in Group D. Turkey and Romania who have a home match against Estonia are level on points.
Spain and France will qualify from Group I with Spain almost assured of qualification with France going into the play-offs. France finish their matches at home to Finland while Spain are at home to Georgia.
So far 5 European teams have secured their place in the World Cup draw – Italy, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.
Only 8 of the nine runners-up will be involved in the play-offs next month. They will be ranked according to all their games except for games against the sixth-placed team in their group – and will play-off for the four remaining spots.
Erik Lamela and Argentina have secured their place complete their matches in Uruguay and Brazil will play a friendly against Zambia in China.
Tom Carroll, Harry Kane and Jordan Archer are with their international Under-21 squads. England are at Ipswich to play Lithuania tonight while Scotland travelled to Georgia. England are 3rd in their group a point behind leaders Finland who have played an extra game.
Archer played in both matches for Scotland – their 2 – 1 home win over Slovakia and yesterday’s 2 – 1 defeat in Georgia. This leaves Scotland 3rd in their group, three points behind leaders Holland who have a match in hand.