Europe World Cup Qualifiers – Match day 1, 2 and 3 in the UEFA zone.

All European nations have played 3 matches in the group stage. The first three matches played for the road to Qatar World Cup were full of surprises with a few notable results. It is like the time to play blackjack and beat the odds as some UEFA nations were able to pocket outstanding victories. We look at how the top European nations fared over the past 7 days in their respective group. 

Portugal and Serbia lead group A

The 2016 Euro champions and the Serbian lead the group with each 7 points earned over the first 3 games. Serbia and Portugal played a 2-2 tie during the week as both nations are set to compete for first place.

Luxembourg 1-3 Portugal

Portugal coach, Santos: “We have to balance the intensity of the game. If we only rely on technical quality, any opponent creates us problems. We woke up, geared up, scored the goal and that was important.

“I told (them) at the break that the only thing we had to change was the attitude and maintaining the quality. In the second half we won all the balls, increased the intensity and Luxembourg looked like a different team. We could have achieved a bigger result against a team that knows how to position itself on the field.”

Group B led by Spain

Spain earned 7 points and is seconded by Sweden with 6 points but one game in hands. The clash Sweden vs. Spain is coming next when the qualifiers resume. 

Spain 3-1 Kosovo

Sergio Ramos, Spain captain:It is always important to get to play games and achieve our objective, which was to add these three points. Be it one minute, a whole game, half a match, that’s not my decision, it’s the coach’s.

The coach was quite clear. Everything that is said about me is taken out of context. Whenever I’m asked to play in the starting lineup It will be with joy and if it is like today, for a short time, the same. The important thing is to bring anything you can to the aid of our national team.”

Italy stays perfect in group C

Three games and three wins for the Italians. With Switzerland also perfect but with just two games played, the stage is set for a big showdown at the end of summer.

Lithuania 0-2 Italy

Roberto Mancini, Italy manager: “It was our third game in seven days, so we knew it was going to be difficult. We missed several chances, but today, the most important thing was to bring home the three points. Certainly, we could suffer a bit less without wasting so many chances.

We risked conceding. We were trying to score the second goal, and we were not well positioned on the pitch, and we allowed them to create a couple of chances on the counter. Let’s not forget that Switzerland only won 1-0 a few days ago against Lithuania. It’s not easy to find spaces when teams defend so deep and they continue to do so even when they are down in the score.”

France with a comfortable margin

France won 2 games of their first three games. No other team has won a game with a total of 6 draws in between them.

Bosnia- Hezergovina 0-1 France

Didier Deschamps, France coach: “It was very important to win here because at the start of September we’ll play our three direct rivals for qualification. It was important for us to leave here with seven points from three matches.”

In Group E, Belgium secured 2 wins and a tie to lead the group with 7 points. Denmark dynamited group F with 14 goals scored in 3 games and 3 wins.

Turkey lead a very close group G with 7 points and 3 teams at 6 points (Netherlands, Norway, Montenegro). Group G remains very opened and much will change after the next set of matches. Croatia and Russia share first place in group H with respectively 2 wins and 1 loss in the 3 matches they played.

England controls group I

Three wins for England in three matches and the last one against the toughest opponent Poland. England 2-1 Poland

England manager Southgate:“The goal was a huge turning point in the momentum of the game. I don’t think their changes created huge problems – we were able to cope with that. “That was very important in terms of qualification and to put us firmly in charge of the group. The players responded to being pulled back to 1-1 very well.”
 

North Macedonia shock Europe

Armenia and North Macedonia lead group J. The Balkans nation won a historic game in Germany 2-1. Following a heavy defeat in Spain in an exhibition game, Germany still look for answers as the Mannschaft has started a new cycle since the 2018 early World Cup elimination. 

Gündoğan, Germany captain: “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not easy to do. We knew that we couldn’t underestimate the opponent and I don’t think we did that. We just weren’t good enough tonight and have to be better in front of goal, otherwise we extend the invite in games like this.”