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September 07, 2005

Comments

Brian

It would certainly do my heart good to see the Americans qualify (already done) while England remains at home next summer.

Brian

Actually disregard my previous comment. It looks like England has already qualified.

What's interesting, though, is this. I know the FIFA rankings are generally useless but they do provide an interesting comparison. Those of us on this side of the pond are used to hearing that qualifying from Europe is infinitely harder than qualifying for the WC from North America or anywhere else. But consider this...

The average FIFA ranking of England's WCQ group opponents is 81.6.

The average FIFA ranking of the USA's WCQ group opponents is 43.0.

Frank McGahon

Have England qualified? That's news to me. They are guaranteed a top two finish in the group but only the two best second-placed teams automatically qualify. The rest must play off against each other. With two games remaining Croatia (or Sweden) and Czech republic look better bets for the automatic slots.

Those of us on this side of the pond are used to hearing that qualifying from Europe is infinitely harder than qualifying for the WC from North America or anywhere else. But consider this...

The average FIFA ranking of England's WCQ group opponents is 81.6.

The average FIFA ranking of the USA's WCQ group opponents is 43.0

Ah, those lies, damned lies and statistics. This probably gives a misleading slant on the difficulty of qualifying. In a typical European group, there are two or three "minnows" whose lowly ranking drags the average of the entire group down. This doesn't make qualifying any easier if there's only 1.5 qualification places for 3 or 4 high ranking teams. Even leaving the Faroes in, the average ranking in Ireland's group is 57. With the Faroes out, this rises to 43.

In any case, you elide the fact that three out of six qualify from the Concacaf group and the fourth placed team gets into a playoff. This makes qualifying far easier, no matter what the Fifa rankings.

Brian

For some reason, I thought all the second place teams qualified because Europe usually has 15-16 spots in the 32 team finals. My mistake. That sort of changes my equation, as it gives any team far less margin for error. The US and England have the same qualifying record (6-1-1)... but the US are already in and England may well be forced into a playoff. Then again, CAF could be the toughest as only group winners qualify. if Morocco draws their final qualifier, they'd go undefeated in qualifying and still miss out.

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