After round of international fixtures has seen a total of 15 nations qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Many more were of course eliminated so here’s our round up of the action, with much focus on the Fantasy Premier League players – after all, you will like to know if your FPL players went back to their clubs happy or devastated.
Spain, France, Germany and England sealed qualification with little fanfare but one player of note is Harry Kane, who scored twice in two games for England and emerged as a strong candidate to captain his nation this summer. Emre Can has been a fringe player for Germany but he found the net with a screamer against Azerbaijan.
Elsewhere in Europe, Gylfi Sigurdsson led his tiny nation of Iceland to qualification. He has, by the way, played every minute of his nation’s qualification games and Iceland will not be a pushover in Russia. Portugal also comfortably beat Switzerland to seal automatic qualification, with the FPL trio of Bernardo Silva, Cedric Soares and Jose Fonte all featuring. Joining them is Poland, featuring WBA loanee Grzegorz Krychowiak whom we featured some weeks back as a differential.
Serbia also rejoined the big boys, qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 2010. Nemanja Matić, Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrović are all key players for the Serbs. Matic also found the net for the second time for his country in Vienna over the weekend.
Moving to Africa, where there were much drama and action. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah wrote himself into Egyptian folklore with a brace against Congo, including a classy 95th minute penalty. WBA’s Ahmed Hegazi, Stoke’s Ramadan Sobhi and Gunner Mohammed El Nenny all featured but it is Salah’s name that they are singing in the streets of Cairo for now. Take a bow, mate.
Nigeria also booked their ticket to Russia with an all-important 1-0 win over Zambia. Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi scored the only goal while Chelsea’s Victor Moses was a key player that game as well.
In South America, Argentina cleared the hurdle on the final match-day without the injured Sergio Aguero. Manchester United’s Sergio Romeo and Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi both featured. Colombia qualified as well with Arsenal’s reserve keeper David Ospina in goal and Spurs’ Davidson Sanchez in defence.
We end this section with Asia, as Australia slipped past Syria over two emotional legs. Huddersfield’s maestro Adrian Mooy was a key player over two legs.
We start our round-up of the devastated with Chile. The defending Copa America champions crumbled to pieces in Brazil with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez up front and Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo in goal. Losing in Brazil was expected, but Chile should reflect on a very poor qualifying campaign overall.
The United States also surprisingly missed out with an abject 2-1 loss in Trinidad and Tobago – Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin started in right back for the Americans in that game.
In Africa, Ghana’s FPL contingent failed to lift the nation as they were held in Uganda. Leicester’s Daniel Amartey is his nation’s captain and started in defence.
Two home nations were knocked out – Wales and Scotland. Both featured many FPL players of course – Wales is captained by Everton’s Ashley Williams and featured Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey; Scotland played Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson and is captained by Stoke’s Darren Fletcher, to name a few.
The Netherlands is perhaps the biggest European name to miss out of Russia with FPL starlets like Virgil Van Djik, Georginio Wijnaldum, Daley Blind and Nathan Ake all featuring.
Headlining the injury list is Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. A hamstring injury will cause him to miss up to six weeks, a super bad piece of news for his club, his country and his FPL managers. Marouane Fellaini also hurt himself and is unlikely to be involved this weekend against Liverpool.
Another injury is to Chelsea’s N’golo Kante, who picked up a minor knock. Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi also returned to his club with a hamstring injury and will not feature this weekend. Southampton’s Shane Long picked up a hip injury and will race against time to be pass fit this weekend. Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi is also out, adding to Arsenal’s defensive crisis.
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