UEFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS:DENMARK VS AUSTRIA

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The Danes joining Germany on the plane to Qatar next year. They are making a good case for the team of the year. Here they made it eight wins out of eight making them worthy qualifiers. They have play an expansive attacking brand of soccer in these qualifiers although against the Austrians here they were a bit cautious. I can’t blame them after they lost their best attacking threat Damsgaard through injury in the first half. The Austrians were always never going to be any pushovers. They stretched eventual champions Italy to the limit at Euro 2020 in the second round. With experience in their side in the form of Sabitzer(Bayern) and Alaba(Real Madrid) I kind of hoped for an upset to be honest. Great defensive organization from the Austrians though to restrict the Danes to just the single goal.

Instead they never really tested Schmeichel and despite having more of the ball and more passes. Denmark’s passing was less in quantity but it was more into the dangerous areas. Not surprised the goal came from Maehle. The amount of times he spends in the opposition half greatly increases his chances of scoring for a left back. If there is a weakness in this Danish side it has to be at center forward. They have had a variety of goal scorers throughout these qualifiers which to some is a good thing. But for me you need that out and out goal scorer to win a major tournament. No disrespect to Poulsen who is a good player but not at center forward, nope. Finding that great number 9 is the next major task for Kasper Hjulmand before the world cup.

UEFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS:NORTH MACEDONIA VS GERMANY

Germany has qualified for 19 out of 21 world cups. That amazing record was never in doubt despite losing to the same opponents in the reverse fixture. It all came right in the second half after a wasteful opening half of the game against a North Macedonian side who ran out of ideas in the final third of the pitch as the game wore on. With that win Germany became the first team to book their place in Qatar next year following Romania’s defeat of Armenia. The key to the qualification was the way they settled for a coach who knows the players in and out, transferred the Bayern style to the national side. Flick HAS ALSO BROUGHT THE BEST OUT OF WERNER who was goal shy under Jogi Louw but is slowly regaining his confidence. Germany had the ball possession with Kimmich the player dictating the attacks, the Gnabry pace once again troubling Alioski just as the first game in Germany.

One thing to realize is that Germany does not have the Lahms and the Podolskis of 8 years ago. So settling for a flat back 4 was the sensible and safest option and Flick was proved right. The relatively untried and untested center back pairing of Kehrer and Sule were solid virtually playing from the half way line with Neuer acting more as a sweeper. North Macedonia on the other hand who caused a stir by beating the odds to qualify for Euro 2020, looked resigned to defeat even with the scoreline level at 0-0.Their number 7 Elmas(Napoli) was their likely goal threat with his angled runs although his decision making on whether to pass or shoot were questionable.

Havertz is an excellent player no doubt but as with Mount at Chelsea he needs a good number 10 to combine with and Muller provided that showing what Germany were missing when they sidelined him earlier in the campaign. A whopping 24 shots at goal as the Macedonian goal was laid siege on to just 7 for the home side. They(at 12 points and third in Group) are now in a three way tussle for the play off spot with Romania(13 points and second) and Armenia(fourth with 12 points too0.

UEFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS:PORTUGAL VS QATAR

It goes without say that it is in every soccer stakeholder’s interest for Qatar to do well in the tournament next year. Thumbs up for effort for the Asian side in this one although the superior nation was obvious to see. This friendly like qualifier ended up having Ronaldo extend his international goal scoring record capitalizing on a defensive mistake and Diogo Dalot his United teammate getting a rare goal as well. Whilst Ronaldo’s stats are insane I question however in playing him alongside Andre Silva of Leipzig upfront. Both players thrive when they are the target man upfront but hey then again this was a friendly so coach Santos can experiment.

Qatar from the looks of it are a counter attacking side. They should however learn to stick the few chances that they get to the back of the net. 10 out of 10 for FIFA to slot them in Group A so that they get competition. But I genuinely worry for them next year in terms of the chances of progressing to the knockout stage. We all know how an early exit of a home side affects match attendance and overall interest in the tournament. For them to proceed two things have to happen. One, a favorable draw in their group which is likely because they would be seeded. Two, get a world class coach who has worked at the highest level of the game now like South Korea did in 2002 with Guus Hiddink, so at least tactically they are not found wanting.

UEFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS:GERMANY VS ROMANIA

It wasn’t pretty part Germany got the job done in the end against a side who prefer to sit back and defend what they got. Germany have Group J under control leaving their opponents Romania to fight it out with North Macedonia and Armenia for the play off berth. FOR ONCE a VAR review has gone against the attacker. The penalty award on the foul against Werner by Burca was rightly reversed by the ref. Doesn’t happen a lot let’s savor the moment shall we?Rangers’s midfielder Ianis Hagi(famous last name) scored a goal for the ages. It is the sort of goal that if it is scored by Messi we would be raving about it for a while. He clearly takes after a certain Maradona of the

So we can’t really say the equalizer by Gnabry wasn’t coming. Rudiger looked uncharacteristically off color in defense though for Germany. Check out how easily the number 9 for Romania Puscas turns him on 40 minutes. One thing you have to like about Thomas Muller is his ability to be in the right position at the right time for the odd tap in and scruffy goal. He isn’t glamorous but when you need a goal he will provide it. Germany has some issues to sort out though namely who is their REAL first choice left and right backsThe most impressive player for Die Mannschaft was Serge Gnabry. The Bayern attacker was everywhere, in midfield putting the shift in to get the ball and was creating chances for his teammates. For the Romania, it is almost cliché that the guy who scores the beauty gets the best player prize but I loved the way their defender number 6 Chiriches kept the fearsome front two of Reus and Sane at bay especially when Sane drifted into the center.

UEFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS:DENMARK VS ISRAEL

Who would have thought the Danes would run away with a Group that includes their opponents above , Scotland and Austria. Their demolition job in Copenhagen against the Israelis ,who have been riding high after an impressive 5-2 win over Austria in the last match day, was their sixth victory out of six. You now have to be brave to bet against them appearing in Qatar next year. What usually happens after a major tournament is that the most impressive players in it tend to tail off, but that has not been the case for Denmark’s stars of Euro 2020. Players like Delaney, Hojbjerg and Maehle have picked off were they left off. Disappointingly for Israel, their most important players ZAHAVI(PSV) and Solomon(DONETSK) were never in it. How easy was it for the Danes? Well no shots on target for Israel, Denmark dominated passes and possession. Defending set pieces isn’t Israel’s thing as evidenced by goal number 2 for Denmark. Standard practice is picking up a man but not everyone did that.

The technique on the Olsen goal was much harder than it looks. All senses points to him taking a first touch but he would have none of it. Getting the direction right and keeping it low. Great stuff. DID I MENTION MARKING SET PIECES ISN’T ISRAEL’S THING? On Cornelius’s fifth goal, how can a defender be allow the attacker to head the ball when the defender is in front of the attacker until the very last moment? This is treasonous defending. Israel slip to third in the Group 7 points behind the Danes and a point behind Scotland in second place.