The 2014 World Cup may be just under three years away but it is already firmly on the horizon. The draw for it has been completed and teams have already been eliminated from qualifying.
Most interest for qualifying will focus on Europe where 13 of the finalists will come from. The 53 teams have been divided into nine groups for which qualifying won’t begin until the completion of Euro 2012. Group A contains Croatia and Serbia which should make for an explosive clash. Belgium and Scotland are also here.
In Group B is Italy, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Bulgaria are also present but they aren’t anywhere near the side that made the final four in 1994.
In Group C, Germany, Sweden, Australia and the Republic of Ireland again all find themselves in the same group.
Netherlands and Turkey will fight it out for Group D but Hungary, Romania and Estonia have the ability to surprise.
Group E is wide open with Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland here.
Portugal and Russia would be favorites in Group F that also contains Israel and Northern Ireland.
Greece are in Group G along with Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
England are reunited with old foes Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland in Group H.
Finally in Group I, you have Spain, France and Belarus.
On paper you have some easy groups here but that is easier said than done and be cautious with your football betting.
Of next most interest is the South American qualifying. There are no groups here. Rather all countries play each other twice over 18 rounds. With Brazil the hosts, things are different this time round as they won’t be participating in qualifying. This has resulted in a slight tweaking of the football odds. Four teams receive direct entry and a fifth goes into a play-off.
Qualifying here has started as it has in Asia. 20 teams have made it through to the third round where they have been split into five groups of four. The top two from each group will advance from which they will be divided into two groups of five. They are halfway through the third round and will complete that at the end of February.
In Africa, they are about to begin the first round and in Oceania they haven’t yet begun anything.
The World Cup is the singularly most important sporting event in the world that just qualifying for it is a long and arduous journey. Succeeding in this is something that just not the teams but the whole country celebrates furiously. Some famous countries and great teams won’t get to make it to the 2014 World Cup. It is because of this that the qualifying matches are fought out as ferociously as the World Cup Final itself. Some teams also realize that certain stages along the way are in fact their World Cup Final.