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Wales/ Scotland WC 2014 group a

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Post by Adam D Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:06 pm

Croatia
Serbia
Belgium
Scotland
Macedonia
Wales

So I was watching the Wales vs Switzerland game last night and it got me thinking.

Can we actually finally get to a major finals?

I have felt this too many times before but I actually feel better than ever before in my thoughts.

Our last 3 games (against the teams above us in our group) have yielded 2 wins and a loss to England at Wembley (which we easily could have drawn if Ernie hadnt missed that sitter).

The Swiss were ranked in the top 20 in the world and we beat them easily last night. And the team is only going to get better - they are so young.

Looking at the group, there really isnt one team on there that really scares me. So I think this is it folks - Wales to either win the group or come second!

Does anyone else agree?

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Post by Crimey Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:13 pm

I think Croatia, Serbia and Belgium are all teams I would think should beat you, they've all got a much stronger squad, but with a bit of luck you might be able to sneak into qualifying.


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Post by Adam D Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:21 pm

Croatia and Belgium are teams that used to be top drawer but are nowhere near as good as they used to be.

Serbia and Scotland are the threats for me in the group and we have a good history against SCotland.

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Post by Fernando Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:34 pm

Belgium are one of the upcoming sides in europe OK

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Post by Guest Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:34 pm

If Wales can establish some consistent home form and snatch a few points away then it's possible but it's still a big ask in my opinion.

Is Craig Bellamy playing on after the current qualifying campaign?


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Post by The Special Juan Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:35 pm

Serbia are on the up. Croatia are an average team I'd say (Scotland beat them Smile ). I'd much rather support Wales than Scotland but I can't so I'll just grin and bear it. You have the world class Gareth Bale. We have Scott Brown. D'oh!

Belgium are on the up, I agree with that.
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Post by Adam D Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:42 pm

FreekShow wrote:If Wales can establish some consistent home form and snatch a few points away then it's possible but it's still a big ask in my opinion.

Is Craig Bellamy playing on after the current qualifying campaign?


I reckon that with Craigs current club situation, that he will more than likely stay on - assuming he is only playing 20 minutes per week.

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Post by super_realist Sat 08 Oct 2011, 4:56 pm

TSC wrote:Serbia are on the up. Croatia are an average team I'd say (Scotland beat them Smile ). I'd much rather support Wales than Scotland but I can't so I'll just grin and bear it. You have the world class Gareth Bale. We have Scott Brown. D'oh!

Belgium are on the up, I agree with that.

Under no criteria can Bale be considered world class, he's a very good player who had a short purple patch last year, but he's no world beater.
He's certainly better than the boneheaded Scott Brown though

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Post by MtotheC's Wrasslin Biatch Sat 08 Oct 2011, 5:05 pm

No. I'm impressed with the result last night but it was far from comfortable. Switzerland diced us apart at times, particularly down the flanks, and it could have just as easily been 2 or 3 nil to them. There are too many decent sides in this group due to our poor world ranking and Wales would have to be on top form against all of them to get results. The aim should be to continue to build on that world ranking and get into a nicer pot for the draw for 2016.

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Post by Guest Sat 08 Oct 2011, 5:57 pm

I think it'll be tough for Wales to even be runners up. Serbia have the solid Ivanovic, Subotic and Vidic in defence, but apart from that they lack anything special anywhere else. Belgium, like Nando pointed out, are a team that are on the rise. I'd add Mignolet/Courtois, Boyata, De Bruyne, Fellaini and Mertens (Unstopppable this season) to the list of promising players. Croatia is a funny one because they have some good players Lovren, Vrsaljko and Modric, and seem to play well as a team.

Then on to Wales. Apart from Bale and Ramsey they don't seem to have much to offer. They might manage a couple of draws at home to Croatia and Serbia, but I can't see them picking up any points away from those top three teams. Scotland will also be a tough game. I'd like to see Wales do well, but I can't see it happening.

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Post by Crimey Sat 08 Oct 2011, 6:07 pm

Belgium and Croatia both have a better group of players now than they will have had for years, and Belgium in particuar have youth in their side, Wales on the other hand really have only two players who are at the top level in Bale and Ramsey.

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Post by Adam D Wed 12 Oct 2011, 3:08 pm

ANother great result for Wales last night and a very poor one from Scotland who just didnt turn up albeit against a brilliant Spanish side.

Wales scored 9 from 12 points in the last 4 games of the campaign against sides ranked above them in the Fifa rankings (Swiss 18th, Montenegro 26th and Bulgaria 55th) and only just losing to ENgland (Ranked 8th somehow) - surely we should get a massive ranking jump.

I feel confident and if we can take any of that form forward, I reckon 2/3 in the group should be quite comfortable and bright for the following tournaments with regards to pool placings.

Cmon Wales!

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Post by Crimey Wed 12 Oct 2011, 3:11 pm

I think that's slightly unfair on Scotland, I watched them in the second half and they had a decent go at Spain, and if Goodwillie had looked up and passed they could have pulled it back to 3-2 and you never know what can happen from there.

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Post by Dass Wed 12 Oct 2011, 3:15 pm

I think your being extremely harsh on Scotland there, we created quite a few good chances and did have spells in the game where we caused Spain problems. Its just nigh on impossible at times to actually get the ball from the Spanish at times, they have did what they did to us at times last night against teams with far better players than ours.

As for the group itself I'd fancy Scotland to be in the mix with all those teams we have a good group of players it just depends on how negative the manager is with them and what he's learned from this campaign. The other great thing about that group is everyone will be taking points from everyone else.

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Post by marty2086 Wed 12 Oct 2011, 3:30 pm

Its going to be a tough group, just read today that Vidic and Stankovic retired for Serbia so that cant be too bad but have been inpressed by Wales under Gary Speed and Scotland have improved over the campaign

Belguim have the talent but noones really brought the players together yet Croatia are always tough and have the likes of Modric at their disposal

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Post by Guest Wed 12 Oct 2011, 5:41 pm

croatia would finish top, but apart from that wide open race for second.

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Post by Adam D Wed 12 Oct 2011, 7:39 pm

Croatia who finished behind Greece in their group?

you are having a laugh.

I would say Croatia will finish out of the top 3 of this group.

Its between Serbia, Scotland, Wales and Belgium

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Post by DJ Legless Wed 12 Oct 2011, 8:12 pm

I think the key to this group will be whoever is strongest at home. I don't see any problems with us at Hampden but our away form is shocking. For us to qualify we need to continue our good home form and hope that other teams take points off of each other.

Does second place automatically make the play offs or does the worst second team miss out?

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Post by monty junior Wed 12 Oct 2011, 8:26 pm

Greece have made 4 of the last 5 major championships. The same record as England. So they are not a mug team for sure. Croatia have plenty of quality, their the favorite team to top the group. After that Belgium,Scotland and Serbia are the most likely candidates for second with Wales not quite as consistent. Having said that there are no easy games and anyone of 5 teams could qualify.

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Post by Dr Gregory House MD Wed 12 Oct 2011, 11:36 pm

A lot of my friends are happy with this draw from a Scottish perspective but I am a bit worried. In the recent past Scotland have usually find themselves in a group with one powerhouse and a few weaker teams who you would have felt we could have beaten but of the 6 teams listed only 2 of them finished outside the top 3 in these past qualifiers and Wales have had a few encouraging results over the past few games. I think anyone in this group could finish 1st to 6th and given Scotland's luck/form over the past 14 years I'm not to hopeful.
On a side note, not since the qualifiers of Euro 04 have Scotland appeared in a qualifying group where at least one of the teams has not made the finals of the major tournement either preeceding or just after (World Cup 06 qualifying, champions Italy, Euro 08 qualifying WC 06 finalists Italy and Spain, WC 10 quaifying runners up Holland, Euro 12 qualifiers WC 10 + EC 08 champions Spain) anyone else brave enough to take a punt on Croatia?

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Post by Guest Sun 16 Oct 2011, 5:01 pm

Adam D (Hobo) wrote:Croatia who finished behind Greece in their group?

you are having a laugh.

I would say Croatia will finish out of the top 3 of this group.

Its between Serbia, Scotland, Wales and Belgium

pffft, belguium are past it and have been for ages, and wales will not qualify again.

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Post by AberdeenSteve Sun 16 Oct 2011, 5:05 pm

Belgium past it? Are you for real? Laugh

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Post by Guest Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:01 pm

yes i am, when was the last time they qualified for a major tournament?

2002 world cup!

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Post by AberdeenSteve Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:10 pm

And have you seen the average age of their current squad?

Full of some of the best talent in Europe.

Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen, Romelu Lukaku, Eden & Thorgan Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Steven Defour, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel.

To name but a few.. Laugh

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Post by Guest Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:16 pm

yh but what have they done

NOTHING

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Post by AberdeenSteve Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:18 pm

Because the majority of that team is 23 and under.

When they peak, Belgium will be sensational. Watch this space.


Wink

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Post by Guest Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:20 pm

maybe so, but you would think with the talent they have, they would have at least qualified for a major torunament.

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Post by AberdeenSteve Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:21 pm

You don't get it do you? Half the players I have mentioned aren't older than 20, they aren't going to be world beaters just yet. Plus, their first qualifying campaign together they were drawn in a pretty tough group for the Euros.

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Post by Guest Sun 16 Oct 2011, 7:23 pm

i do get it steve, im saying my opinon, im allowed to do that.

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Post by Crimey Sun 16 Oct 2011, 8:20 pm

Your opinion is worthless if it can't be backed up with some evidence though, you may as well be spurting out gibberish.

Also, have you checked your PMs recently CF?

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Post by monty junior Mon 17 Oct 2011, 3:05 pm

Agreed, Belgium have had a poor team since the 2002 world cup but that doesn't mean this new lot of youngsters are poor. Its really bizarre logic cricketfan. They have a lot of players now playing with big teams at very young ages. They could well be at the next world cup and it wouldn't surprise me a jot.

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Post by Guest Mon 17 Oct 2011, 3:28 pm

invincibleILeak (CL-6WF) wrote:Your opinion is worthless if it can't be backed up with some evidence though, you may as well be spurting out gibberish.

Also, have you checked your PMs recently CF?

my opinon isnt worthless, im stating my opinon and its allowed.

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Post by Crimey Mon 17 Oct 2011, 5:12 pm

cricketfan90 wrote:
invincibleILeak (CL-6WF) wrote:Your opinion is worthless if it can't be backed up with some evidence though, you may as well be spurting out gibberish.

Also, have you checked your PMs recently CF?

my opinon isnt worthless, im stating my opinon and its allowed.

It is if it's based on nothing.

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Post by Guest Mon 17 Oct 2011, 5:34 pm

its my opinon and if u dont like it, dont read it, its not hard.

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Post by Crimey Mon 17 Oct 2011, 6:08 pm

cricketfan90 wrote:its my opinon and if u dont like it, dont read it, its not hard.

Believe me I'd rather not have to read your posts. lol

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Post by Guest Mon 17 Oct 2011, 7:03 pm

invincibleILeak (CL-6WF) wrote:
cricketfan90 wrote:its my opinon and if u dont like it, dont read it, its not hard.

Believe me I'd rather not have to read your posts. lol

fine with me, im not particuarly bothered.

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Post by Dass Tue 18 Oct 2011, 2:13 am

Here's my thoughts on the qualifying group, I am not going to mention Macedonia in this as while I think they will have a part to play in the group I don't see them as being as strong as the other teams. I will also leave out the home nation teams as there are already well documented discussions on them elsewhere.

Croatia - Since they have formed they have competed in 8 qualifying campaigns managing to emerge successfully from 6 of those a impressive achievement, though they did fail to qualify for the last World Cup. There's no doubt for me they have been in somewhat of a slight decline since the turn of the century, though it’s only slight and nowhere in the region of a Czech Republic. Their qualifying group for next year’s Euro's had a number of solid teams but nothing spectacular about it and while they had a impressive home record they only managed 2nd. This is not to slight Greece who are a solid outfit consisting of hard work and a good team spirit but other than that 2004 success there's nothing about them to suggest a high quality team.

They do have a number of very good players in their current squad and this is probably the best squad they have had to emulate those achievements of the late 90's. Looking at their team you'd have to think that the period 2010-2016 would see this current team in their peak years and they haven't made a bad start in qualifying for the first tournament during that period.

A serious threat to all in the group but I've got the feeling if one of the other improving teams can raise their game another step then Croatia will find themselves playing second fiddle once again.

Serbia - It’s hard to know where to stand on how much history can be taken into account when talking about them due to the many changes of the teams national name status. I'm just going to take into account from the 2010 WCQ campaign forwards and base my opinions from there. Personally around 2008 I thought this was a team that could be a force on the national stage for at least the next 8yrs. The U21 team had been a very potent force and a joy to watch on occasion and it looked during the WCQ campaign that they had made the step up to the senior game easily enough. They qualified top of their group edging out a France side which while being a poor reflection of the team a decade previously are still a potent enough force on the International stage. The group also consisted of some other solid teams such as Lithuania, Austria and Romania which could have easily seen a tight group which points being taken of each other at regular intervals but such was not the case.

This is where it all started to go wrong somewhat and the team have never quite managed to achieve the heights their early promise suggested. Despite having Germany in their group you expected them to achieve 2nd over Ghana and Australia. They went on to defeat the eventual semi finalists and 2nd best team in that tournament and yet lost the other two games sending them home early. The 2012 Euro campaign has done nothing to suggest that this was a blip other than Italy it was a very easy group considering and they could only finish 3rd while in a tight battle with Slovenia and Estonia for 2nd. It’s hardly the kind of form that shouts we are a team on the rise.

Again this is a squad filled with incoming talent and established stars though they do look a little threadbare and one dimensional up front for me. It’s hard to know what to make of them and its giving me a headache just thinking about it, if they can click then I think they could run away with this group with the rest scrambling for 2nd. However I can't help think the chances of them clicking is thin based on the Euro campaign, I think both them and Croatia are around the same level culminating in what I see of teams taking points of each other in this group.

Belgium -At one point they had a record that most teams would be proud of, a 20yr period where they graced 6 WC's getting knocked out in the first round after the groups with only two blips. The first of those blips was to not get past the group stage the other was an impressive finish of 4th place, as WC records go there'd not be many who could eclipse that sort of consistency. Yet surprisingly enough during that same period they only managed to qualify for 3 out of the 6 Euro's that took place, twice being dumped out in the groups and the other time managing to finish runners-up. Those two stellar performances in the WC and Euro's both happened in the 1986 and 1980 respectively, so while consistent in some quarters they haven't been able to reach those heights since.

This is where it all starts going wrong for them, 5 major tournament qualifying campaigns have passed since then and yet they have failed to qualify for any of them. Some of this can be laid down to a ageing squad and the need for a period where new talent would start to emerge, though one generation has already been and they didn't manage anything of note. You could say this current squad came together for the 2010 WCQ campaign and with many at such a young age and in a group consisting of Spain they did well to finished in 4th behind Bosnia and Turkey in that order. It was interesting to see 2yrs later for this Euro campaign that they once again drew Turkey in their group and despite not having Spain they got landed with Germany instead, someone doesn't seem to like them very much it seems. I'd have expected more from them in this group which also included Austria, neither Austria or Turkey are any great shakes both are solid teams but nothing more than that though Turkey at Home are always formidable for certain reasons. Yet with the young talent Belgium posses and the experience of a previous campaign under their belts plus the bonus of having played Turkey twice in recent history you'd have expected them to make that next step and finish above them this time around. It was a closer campaign this time around with Turkey than it had been in the previous one but yet again they finished behind them.

Another qualifying campaign on and the laden talent pool that is the Belgium national team looks fearsome, on paper I'd say they were the best all round team in the group edging out Serbia. This is the time for me they must show the talent they posses for me some of these players this will be their 3rd qualifying campaign and for the others their 2nd if they haven't gelled as a squad by now then I doubt they ever will. My personal opinion is that I don't think they ever will quite reach the heights the talents of the individuals they have suggest they might, that last qualifying campaign has just left me with those niggling doubts much like Serbia.

Conclusion - Scotland and Wales need to have their A games on the table for this group as I think home form is going to the key to getting out of this. I think this will be a genuinely exciting group as I don't think there's really much between any of the teams when it comes down to it, even if one team was to suddenly click and run away with the group the battle for 2nd place would keep you glued until the last game. Can the two home nation teams qualify; yes I do think it’s possible though if I only see one of them doing it rather than both if it was to happen.




Last edited by Dass on Tue 18 Oct 2011, 11:16 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Adding comments regarding Belgium)

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Post by Kay Fabe Tue 18 Oct 2011, 3:45 pm

I think it's got the makings of a great cut throat group, as a Scot I forever live in hope but with the permanently frightened Levein in charge I doubt we'll attack enough, if we do somehow revert to playing with two strikers though we've got a chance, no team in the group are out of sight and none of us qualified from the Euro groups

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Post by Dass Wed 19 Oct 2011, 7:57 am

As a Scotland enthusiast I also fear that our lack of ambition will be our eventual downfall. A lot is dependent on how much Levein has learned from this campaign and more importantly can he admit to himself when he's got things wrong thus changing things for this new campaign.

I fear that Levein maybe to stubborn for this and the defensive comments after the Spain game trying to dismiss the fact we looked better with two strikers was interesting. I happened to agree that one striker against the Spanish was the way to go but his defensive nature to two strikers worries me no end.

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Post by Adam D Tue 08 Nov 2011, 8:59 pm

Just thought I would check out the FIFA rankings after Wales' recent run of form........

Wales up 45 places to 45th in the World!

Well done Mr Speed clap

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Post by Adam D Tue 08 Nov 2011, 9:00 pm

Also add - they are now above Scotland and Northern Ireland!

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Post by Dass Sat 12 Nov 2011, 6:49 am

Just something extra to add to this group and the form coming into it for the various teams involved.

Rep Ireland have just beaten Estonia 4-0 away from home and as a result should go through comfortably in the return leg in Dublin. Ireland are a good team with some very good players and deserve to be where they are, yet objectively that's all they are is a good solid team. If they were to replace another team in this group they'd pretty much have the same chance to qualify as anyone else, no more no less.

The Estonia result is quite interesting as if you use it as a line through Serbia who finished behind Estonia in the qualifying group and only managed 1pt out of a possible 6pt's in their games together. It would suggest that while Serbia have some very good players they might not be the great team that the 2010 WC qualifiers/finals suggested which subsequent form has franked to a degree.

Anyway its not that simple to draw a conclusion from a line through Estonia but it's certainly another piece in already difficult puzzle.

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Post by Adam D Sat 12 Nov 2011, 5:45 pm

Wales are beginning to look good.

I have a real hope for this campaign.

Norway were 21st in the World.

Good times!

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