SPAIN AND ITALY IN THE SAME WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP, RAFA’S REAL IMPRESS AND THE COPA DEL REY BOOING IS PUNISHED
THE SPANISH WEEK IN REVIEW
Sean O’Conor, Ponferrada, Spain
* Spain were drawn into Group G for Qiu Qiu World Cup 2018 qualifying alongside Italy, Albania, Israel, Italy, Lichtenstein and Madedonia.
The group winners automatically travel to Russia while the eight best second-place teams go into playoffs.
The two matches against the Azzurri will of course be key to deciding first place assuming neither of the big two slip up against the others. Israel at a pinch might be a banana skin away, although Wales had no trouble dispatching them recently.
Wales incidentally are currently ranked tenth by FIFA following their purple patch, two places above Spain. Romania are also in the top ten, which meant Italy, 17th and France, 24th, ended up in Pot No.2 for the draw, leaving the possiblility of two giants ending up together.
As it happens, both Euro 2012 finalists will battle it out for automatic passage to the finals. The Netherlands and France makes Group A look similarly top-heavy.
As with the 2014 finals, FIFA has made a mess of the draw, sticking religiously to their ranking classification in the face of footballing reality. Group B which has Portugal, Hungary and Switzerland, looks lighter as does Group D, featuring Wales, Austria and Serbia and Group E of Romania, Denmark and Poland.
Oh well, Italy v Spain it is on the 6th of October next year and the return clash on the the 2nd of September 2017 are the ones to pencil into the diary now.
Given La Roja’s embarrassingly bad defence of their crown at World Cup 2014, they will be keen to put on a better show in 2018. With a new team emerging and the lion’s share of the 2010 winners out to pasture, it will be interesting to see if Spain can stay in the leading group of soccer nations.
Before any thoughts turn to Russia however, there is Euro 2016 to reach first. Spain play Slovakia in Oviedo on …