The Premier League has just started, and now it is already time for a little break. In the coming days there will be lots of international friendly matches in Europe and then it is time for the first qualification matches for the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
Portugal won Euro 2016 earlier this summer, and to most people that was a surprise. One would have thought of them as one of the better teams in the tournament, but few actually expected them to win. As the qualification matches will start Portugal will play in a group together with Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Island, Latvia and Andorra. If they were lucky with their group during the group stage in Euro 2016, they have for sure been lucky again. They are a better team than all their opponents, but as we saw in their group match against Hungary during Euro 2016, anything can happen in international football today.
You can find a list of all the European World Cup qualifier groups at FIFA.com and as you look through the groups you will see some really tough ones.
European World Cup Qualifiers Group A
In this group you will find the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Sweden, France, Belarus and Luxembourg. None of these are easy teams, but most people would agree that Belarus and Luxembourg should be easy wins. The rest of the teams are however hard teams and especially Sweden and Bulgaria can vary a lot in their performance. Still, our favorites to win this group is France, followed by Netherlands. But, just like PSG lost in Ligue 1 early this year (last year they didn’t loose a match at all), it might be France will have trouble in this group as well? Time will show.
European World Cup Qualifiers Group B
This is the group we mentioned earlier with Portugal, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra and Switzerland. On the paper one would expect Portugal to win in front of Switzerland, but who knows if Hungary can surprise like they did during Euro 2016? And we also know that Portugal can play terrible football, so maybe this group will be won by Switzerland?
European World Cup Qualifiers Group C
In this group there is little doubt about the fact that Germany are the big favorites to win. They will play against Norway in their opening match, and besides Norway they will also play against Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland and San Marino. On the paper this is a group that Germany will win safely in front of the Czech Republic. The question is whether or not Northern Ireland and Norway can give the top two teams and trouble?
European World Cup Qualifiers Group D
In this group the semi-finalist from Euro 2016 Wales will play against Austria, Serbia, Ireland, Moldova and Georgia. This is one of the easiest group in the tournament on the paper. Wales are a good team, but they were also lucky during Euro 2016 and should be easier to beat than most other top seeded teams in Europe. Serbia is good and so is Austria, but they are not impossible to beat, so who knows… maybe Ireland will win this group in front of Austria and Wales?
European World Cup Qualifiers Group E
In Group E we will be able to watch Poland, Romania, Denmark, Montenegro, Armenia and Kazakhstan. Here we can expect tough matches between Romania, Poland, Denmark and Montenegro. Our favorites to win the group is Poland, but it might be that Denmark and Romania can beat them on a good day. A very open group which will be very interesting to follow.
European World Cup Qualifiers Group F
In Group F we can watch England, the team that always get to the big tournaments, but always fail once they have arrived. This time they will arrive with a new coach, but can it help? Their opponents in the group stage will be Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta. We believe England will make it quite easily to the World Cup, but the truth is that Slovakia, Scotland and Slovenia can all be dangerous and it might turn into a cat-fight between the top four teams.
European World Cup Qualifiers Group G
In Group G we can really look forward to the battle between Spain and Italy. We already saw them in Euro 2016 (when Italy won), but Spain will for sure want to revenge that in these group stage matches. The teams will for sure end up as number one and two in the group, as we do not give Albania, Israel, Macedonia or Liechtenstein much chance against the two super teams. Nobody actually expect the Liga BBVA stars to have any trouble at all, but can Albania cause trouble for both Spain and Italy. Who knows?
European World Cup Qualifiers Group H
The question in Group H is whether or not Greece can stand up from their total failure in the group stage before Euro 2016? If they manage they will be the favorites in this group together with Belgium, but if they don’t, then Bosnia stand out as favorites to win the group together with Belgium. In addition to these three teams we can watch Estonia, Cyprus and Gibraltar in this group.
European World Cup Qualifiers Group I
FIFA saved the most interesting group for last. This is a very tough group and it will be so interesting to follow it as the group stage matches move on. Here we will see Croatia, Kosovo, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey and Finland. What can be said about these teams? No teams are easy to beat, as even Finland can beat a great team on a good day (they played a draw against Belgium just before Euro 2016. We know that Iceland can beat any team, Ukraine is a top team in Europe on a good day, Croatia is as well, and Turkey managed to get to Euro 2016 as well. A fantastic group with great matches to be played on every match day.
Watch the World Cup qualification matches online
If you want to follow all these teams and groups then you can watch lots of these matches online. Here in the IP Address Guide we regularly write articles on how you can watch certain matches online, and we also have detailed guides telling how you can watch for example the Serie A in Italy online and other similar leagues in Europe.
What do you expect from the qualification groups? Write your thoughts!