Friday, March 24, 2017

What to do when it’s raining…

No English football this weekend as there is an international break for the penultimate round of Qualifying competition for UEFA Euro 2016 in France next summer. However all of the ‘important’ Qualifiers can be found on TV if it continues to rain and the beach isn’t an option?

After tonight’s dismal display in Tblisi, Scotland now have to beat Germany and Poland, their Group leaders, in their last two games. Don’t hold your breath…

England, meanwhile, have already qualified, so their game against their Group’s whipping boy, San Marino, is about as academic as it gets.

But Wales, leaders of their own Group could move up to second place in world football’s Fifa rankings during this international break!

Four years ago Wales were ranked 117th – but following their 1-0 victory yesterday over Cyprus in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, they are on the brink of reaching their first major tournament in 58 years.

And if results go their way they could move from ninth in the FIFA ranking to sit above World Cup winners Germany and Brazil in October’s new rankings.

If they can beat Israel on Sunday with a packed Cardiff City Stadium roaring them on, not only will they secure qualification for the Euros, they will also be guaranteed to be at least fourth when the next Fifa rankings come out.

This is because some of the teams above them – Colombia, Brazil, Portugal and Chile – are playing friendly matches rather than competitive internationals, so fewer ‘FIFA points’ are on offer. Consequently, even if they win their games, they would drop below Chris Coleman’s side.

To break into the top three, Wales need other results to go their way. Current third-placed team Germany can hold onto their spot if they win both of their upcoming Euro qualifiers against Poland and Scotland. But even a draw in one of those Germany matches would send Wales up to third – provided they beat Israel.

Wales have already beaten Belgium in Euro 2016 qualifying – now can they muscle them out of second place in the world rankings?

It could happen, but it requires Cyprus to do them a massive favour.

If the Cyprus islanders can beat Belgium in Nicosia on Sunday night, then that – combined with the other results mentioned – would see Wales officially ranked the second-best football team in the world.

 

About Richard Lawson

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