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European Qualifier Round 2
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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

The knockout round between 8 sides for a spot in WC 2018 will be next months, however, it as already been revealed who would play who.

Northern Ireland vs Switzerland
Croatia vs Greece
Sweden vs Italy
Denmark vs Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland, Croatia, Sweden and Denmark will play their first game at home and the second away. All games will take place between November 9 to 14.

Here are the team I expect to go trough:
Switzerland
Croatia
Italy
Denmark (but it will still be the most open game in my opinion.)

Comments
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[Bayern Munich, Croatia]
Posts: 17 | Comments: 777

Switzerland shouldn't have much problem with Northern Ireland. Better players, and looked really good in big/hard matches. I really like them and few of their players are my favorites after watching them in Bundesliga, Nico Elvedi is especially good so I hope he has great tournament. Croatia is obviously favorites against Greece but their playstyle doesn't really contribute us, we should probably give them more posession but block options so we can intercept ball and finally get space on wings. They really play slow football and don't have much quality aside from defence. Italy-Sweden is best game of playoffs and would be huge slap to Italian FA if they don't qualify, Sweden really doesn't have luck in this draws. Denmark should absolutely pass. They played real quality football last few matches so I think they should pass it easily.

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[Chelsea, Mexico]
Posts: 41 | Comments: 1414

Sad for Sweden as they last time got Portugal and now Italy, the best matchup possible is at least exciting for the neutral fans.
The rest are all weaker teams, Sweden would pass all other teams but now vs Italy they need to pull out some vintage performance in the first game and hope that Italy doesn't recover at home.

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

Sweden would pass all other teams

Not all team imo but would definetly get a much better even if they played Switzerland or Croatia.

Showing previous versions of this text.

Sweden would pass all other teams

Not all team imo but would definetly get a much better even if they played Switzerland and Croatia.

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[Chelsea, Mexico]
Posts: 41 | Comments: 1414

@Emo Sweden had a very hard group and they showed that they are a very organized unit, it's misleading that Switzerland got so many points because their group had 2 hard games vs Portugal rest was just to pump the goal difference.

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

@Golazo Well, I'm not sure about that, they barely won one game against France and both France and Netherland underperformed. Don't get me wrong, Sweden is a good side and I certainly think they are able to give a hard time to any side out there, but Switzerland is also really good, even against weak opponent, it isn't easy to win every games, yet, that exactly what Switzerland did. For me, both side are really good and incredible. Just my opinion.

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[Arsenal, Netherlands]
Posts: 46 | Comments: 1624

I believe Northern Ireland are heavy favourites against Switzerland, I can’t really see them messing it up. I also can’t see Croatia msssing up their match. The other two matches are more open. I think Italy and Denmark will just edge the win.

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

@Amir Nothern Ireland vs Switzerland would favor the later in my mind but that might be because I haven't really seen how good Northern Ireland were.

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[Bayern Munich, Croatia]
Posts: 17 | Comments: 777

Why would Northern Ireland be favorites? Switzerland has players that can solve it on individual quality, Northern Ireland doesn't. Should be close but Switzerland is definitely favorite. Also it's quite possible Croatia fucks up if Rakitic, Perisic and others don't show up.

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

@Croatian 100% agreed with Switzerland being favorite, however, you need to know Greece is as much capable of screwing up a game they should win or have the advantage in. They barely made it to this knockout round. I really wish Greece would be better but sincerely, unless they get their stuff together and bring their best, even a poor Croatia should propably be able to get into WC. :(

Showing previous versions of this text.

@Croatian 100% agreed with Switzerland being favorite, however, you need to know Greece is as much capable of screwing up a game they should win or have the advantage in. They barely made it to this knockout round. :(

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[Arsenal, Netherlands]
Posts: 46 | Comments: 1624

Croatian

Because of the different styles. Shaqiri, Embolo, Zuber and co need space to run into, and Northern Ireland play very deep. It's a poor match for Switzerland imo. If you look at clubs as well, Barcelona lost to Atleti and Juventus in the last 2 years in the Champions League, because tiki taka doesn't really work too well against a team who sits deep. Northern Ireland may not have the players, but they surely have the team.

Emobot7

Agreed, Greece might be the worst team there.

Showing previous versions of this text.

Croatian

Because of the different styles. Shaqiri, Embolo, Zuber and co need space to run into, and Northern Ireland play very deep. It's a poor match for Switzerland imo. If you look at clubs as well, Barcelona lost to Atleti and Juventus in the last 2 years in the Champions League, because tiki taka doesn't really work too well against a team who sits deep. Northern Ireland may not have the players, but they surely have the team.

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[Chelsea, Mexico]
Posts: 41 | Comments: 1414

Sad for Sweden as they last time got Portugal and now Italy, the best matchup possible is at least exciting for the neutral fans.
The rest are all weaker teams, Sweden would pass all other teams but now vs Italy they need to pull out some vintage performance in the first game and hope that Italy doesn't recover at home.

Just quoting myself, by far the best matchup in Europe and Sweden has the result, like I said it's down to Italy now to show at home if they can recover from this!

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Posts: 0 | Comments: 294

Yea, really nice result from Sweden and now Italy, without Verratti, will have to show why they deserve to go to the wc :) Should be a cracker, and hopefully there are no controversial calls like what happened during that Ireland - France from years ago

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

@Golazo I regret underestimating Sweden. They really have a good start now with that 1-0 win against Italy. Hope Italy does something in the second leg because if this keep this up, we will lose another big time before the tournament. :U

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[Bayern Munich, Croatia]
Posts: 17 | Comments: 777

We (Croatia) found a nice new coach, really. Refreshing to see a coach who knows to identify problems and solve them. Also we play much more beautiful esthetic football, lots of backheels, one-touch passes and smart positioning allowing long balls from defence. So just a quick summary for what to look out for:

  • coach Dalić is intelligent and FINALLY a coach who came in, didn't want a contract, won in hardest moment for us and also brought in real staff and players. He is considered one of best coach in history of Asia and best in 2010s, despite many famous names there. He denied he has any connection with Mamić and that Mamić won't influence his decisions (since public loves him they won't have chance to sack him like they did to Kovač).
  • he brought in Strinić back after few decent games for Sampdoria, Strinić performed well, same for Vrsaljko who was crap last few games. He puts all three forwards in centre so Strinić and Vrsaljko have more space, thus more effective crossing.
    • he also probably looks for other options on leftback such as Pivarić who did decent vs Finland, and Barišić is great crosser, best leftback in Croatian league (delivers lots of assist for one lone striker).
  • he reinforced midfield. Badelj was injured so he played Brozović as more defensive midfielder, he played decent game, average in offensive phase, decent in defensive. Rakitić is completely in different role which I am so glad to see. He drops deep between two centerbacks and finds solutions, including often longballs on Perišić or Kramarić. He also did fantastic defensive job. Also biggest note here, Modrić is moved up the field to number 10 role. He was MOTM in all our games after Iceland fiasco.
  • as I already said, with Kalinić who helps a lot in pressing and build-up, Perišić and Kramarić are often in the box making space for fullbacks - Strinić had 1 assist to Kalinić, Vrsaljko had 2 to Perišić and Kramarić.
  • last but not least, he also gives chance to Rebić, Vlašić, Pašalić - if we qualify you will see all of them starting in last group game if situation is relatively safe to go to knockouts. Like Jedvaj, Rog, Pjaca and co. did against Spain in Euros. Still a long way though.

Considering I'm a Bayern fan from Croatia, this has been crazy few months of turnaround with Heynckes and Dalić.

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[Manchester City, Brazil]
Posts: 2 | Comments: 170

ITALY are in panic mode!!!!!!
Not sure if they are yet........but missing out of the world cup for the first time in umpteen years must be heartbreaking.......particularly for Buffon, who was hoping for a record 6th World Cup

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[Arsenal, Netherlands]
Posts: 46 | Comments: 1624

Italy really messed up Buffon's status of legend. Buffon has no Champions League because of his teammates. Good job Juventus.

Instead of whining, he tries to break a record, stopped because of his teammates. Good job Italy.

Oh, and let's not give them any soft spot because it's Italy. Sweden have a very organised defense and Italy don't score a lot. They should have taken their chances

I say we blame money!

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

@Mancitydude They are only one goal down so they can alway come back but still, they really need a clean sheet, 2-1 win against Sweden would see them eliminated as they didn't score away.

@amir_keal I really hope Italy manage to make it, I don't want to see a repeat of what happened with Robben but with Buffon. :(

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[Chelsea, Mexico]
Posts: 41 | Comments: 1414

Out of 8 playoff games 5 finished with the score of 0:0 and Swiss had a controversial penalty as well in their 1:0 win.

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Posts: 216 | Comments: 6138

@Golazo Once again, color me suprise, I was expecting Switzerland to qualify but with a much more solid performance. Dissapointed in them right now. :( Well, at least they are in but I feel a bit bad for Nothern Ireland as well. :(

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[Arsenal, Netherlands]
Posts: 46 | Comments: 1624

Actually I expected Northern Ireland to qualify. They got done over by that poor decision. Good luck to Switzerland though. It was real close.

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