Our group has been drawn and we now know who we will be competing against for a place at World cup 2014. I thought I’d write up a wee bit about the teams we will play against.
Croatia ranked 9th in FIFA rankings – Seeded top in the group and in recent times they stopped England qualifying for Euro 2008. Many seem to think they are not one of the best teams out of the top seeds but they have in demand player Luka Modric of Spurs, Rangers player Nikica Jelavic, who we are aware of from playing in SPL, ex Arsenal striker Eduardo and Spurs defender Vedran Corluka, who keeps Alan Hutton out of the team. Their captain is Darijo Srna of Shakhtar Donetsk.
Serbia ranked 27th in the world – Seeded 2nd in our group, they are a tough team to beat due to their strength in defence. They are currently 3rd in their Euro championship qualifying group behind Italy and Slovenia. Their top players are Nemanja Vidic who is regarded as one of best centre backs in the world, young defender Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Their main attacking threats are Nikola Zigic of Birmingham and Milan Jovanovic of Liverpool. Their captain is Dejan Stankovic, who was considering retirement from international football, but fancies a crack at the other Balkan nations.
Belgium ranked 37th in the world – The Belgians are considered as one of the best up and coming teams in Europe with many of their players being in demand such as Eden Hazard of French champions Lille and Romelu Lokaku of Anderlecht. They also have Vincent Kompany who was considered one of best defenders in England last season at Manchester City and midfielder Marouane Fellaini of Everton. Their captain is Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal, who missed a lot of last season through injury.
Macedonia ranked 96th in the world – A team who have caused us problems in the past and a team we have lost to before. They are probably the best team out of 5th pot of seeds. Their main threat is Inter attacker Goran Pandev, who is also their captain.
Wales ranked 112th in the world – A team who are well known to us and have defeated us twice recently in friendlies. Their main threats are Gareth Bale of Spurs, Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal, who missed a lot of last season and is their captain, Craig Bellamy who is out of favour at Manchester City and two players who play in the SPL, in recent Celtic signing Adam Matthews and also Joe Ledley.
On Saturday when the draw was made Craig Levein decided to go to Rugby Park instead of Rio so he could look at players ahead of our friendly against Denmark. Let’s hope in 2014 when the world cup kicks off he is in attendance as the 1st manager since Craig Brown in 1998 to lead Scotland to a World Cup finals.