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11.06.2009 11:37

Barça stars’ World Cup aspirations

Jesús Carrillo

After the latest round of World Cup qualifying matches, Brazil and Spain are both close to clinching their places in South Africa 2010. However, Argentina and Uruguay are struggling to finish in the top four of the South American group.

Barça’s Brazilian wingback Dani Alves is within touching distance of a place in South Africa. After beating Paraguay, Brazil is just one match away from qualification with four matchdays remaining. They lead the group and have a seven-point cushion over fifth placed Ecuador. Brazil is the only country to have competed in every World Cup.

Spain one win away

Spain is also just one match away from booking their place in what will be the first ever World Cup finals held in Africa. The team coached by Vicente del Bosque has a ten-point lead over third placed Turkey with another four games to play. It looks certain that Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Piqué, among others, will be heading to South Africa next summer.

Problems for Messi and Cáceres

The other side of the coin is represented by Argentinean international Leo Messi and Uruguay’s Martin Cáceres. Argentina cannot afford any more slip-ups. They sit in fourth place (the last automatic qualification place) just two points ahead of Ecuador and have two difficult matches coming up against Brazil and Paraguay. However, Uruguay are in an even worse position and will, at the very least, need to overtake fifth placed Ecuador to have a chance of qualifying via the playoffs against the fourth placed finisher in the North, Central America and Caribbean group.

Iceland, KO

This Wednesday’s defeat against Macedonia has ended all hope of qualification for Gudjohnsen and Iceland. Meanwhile, runaway group leaders Holland have already qualified.

Belarus still in with a chance

Belarus, featuring Barça’s Hleb, have everything at stake in the next two matches against Croatia. Group leaders England are all but certain to take first place while Croatia, Ukraine and Belarus will have to fight it out for second place. Belarus has never qualified for the World Cup finals.

France on the rise

Henryfranxa.jpgFrance, with ‘Titi’ Henry and Eric Abidal have greatly improved their chances of going to South Africa. They trail group leaders Serbia by eight points but have two games in hand. On 12th August they travel to the Faeroe Islands and a win there would put them four points ahead (with a game in hand) of third placed Lithuania.
Photos: www.auf.org and www.fff.fr
Photos: www.auf.org and www.fff.fr
Problems for Mali and Cameroon
The international teams featuring Seydou Keita and Samuel Eto’o have a lot of ground to make up. They currently prop up their respective groups and have to start winning quickly. Meanwhile, Ivory Coast share top place in Group E with Burkina Faso with a maximum six points from two games.

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