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The light at the end of the tunnel: where World Cup qualification stands

How many Napoli players are going to Brazil, and how many still could join them? This and so much more included in an in-depth look at World Cup qualification.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Tuesday night brings countries in Europe, North/Central America and South America the last chance to book their ticket directly to Brazil. You might think that means some dull matches across the globe, but with FIFA rankings still essential to figuring out who falls where in major tournaments, most already-qualified sides won't switch off -- as Holland so sweetly proved against Hungary. That's bad news for the likes of Turkey, Uruguay and Mexico...


Already qualified: Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland

Group A
Belgium are through, Croatia is in second. Don't bother.
Group B
According to the wonderful world of wiki, Czech Republic are out, but Armenia still stand a chance, despite having the same number of points. This made my head hurt. Bulgaria and Denmark are even on 13 points, but Denmark play Malta while Bulgaria face the Czechs. It's a chance for the Danes to slip in after letting in an injury time goal from Alberto Aquilani to collect just one point against Italy.
Group C
Germany are through and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a chance to make it to Brazil. Move along.
Group D
Turkey and Romania are the ones battling it out for second, but Turkey are stuck with Holland, who dismantled Hungary 8-1 last time out, despite already qualifying. Big meanies. Hungary still have a chance, though, if they win and Romania lose to Estonia and Turkey ultimately fall to Netherlands.
Group E
Iceland are just a point above Slovenia and are set to play Norway. The Slovenes travel to Switzerland, where hopefully Behrami, Inler and Dzei get some time to rest -- which will also make it easier on Slovenia, of course
Group F
If Portugal beat Luxembourg 8-0 and Russia fall to Azerbaijan without scoring any goals, Portugal get to go straight to Brazil. Place your bets now. Oh, did we mention Cristiano Ronaldo got himself booked and won't play?
Group G
Bosnia and Greece are even on points, but unless Bosnia manage to lose to Lithuania it's the Bosnians that are through -- unless Greece manage to score something like 20 goals against Liechtenstein.
Group H
We're all Poland fans tonight, right? Ukraine face San Marino and their -45 goal difference, so we all know how that'll turn out. But boy, it'll be fun to see the media meltdown should Poland manage to draw, or even beat, England, thus sending them to the playoff round.
Group I
This one is pretty much decided -- Spain through, France to playoffs. Unless you think Georgia can beat Spain, of course. If so, put your money down, as you've got 50/1 odds.


Already qualified: United States, Costa Rica

In North/Central America, the third placed team goes straight to Brazil, while the fourth-placed faces a playoff against New Zealand. Currently Honduras are in third, three points over Mexico, after el Tri let a 1-0 lead slip away and Panama took all three points on Friday. Technically Panama could still come back and take the playoff spot, if Mexico lose to Costa Rica and Panama beat the U.S. Oh, if wishing were to make it so.


Already qualified: Argentina, Colombia

South America is especially intriguing this time around. Somehow, after a mini-revival put Uruguay in a much better position, la celeste managed to lose to Ecuador on Friday. That puts Ecuador in third, even with Chile on points, after Chile drew with Colombia last time. Uruguay are three points back and it would take some complicated results to get them to Brazil without first facing a playoff against Jordan. Any team that plays Walter Gargano but has never capped Miguel Britos deserves what they get. Vamos Argentina!


The third and final round of African qualifiers just began, but it's worth a mention here as Ghana host Egypt on Tuesday evening. This round of qualifiers features five two-legged ties, home and away, and the five sides that come out on top go to Brazil. Ethiopia's Cinderella story was captivating, but unfortunately they lost 2-1 to Nigeria on Sunday. Perhaps a big comeback next month?

Club over country? Here's your Napoli-centric report

So the long slog to Brazil is nearly over. But if we learned one thing from this seemingly unending qualification process it's this: put a Napoli player on your side and you'll likely make it to the World Cup. Unless you're a tiny country that used to be under communist rule.

Napoli players in: Lorenzo Insigne, Christian Maggio (Italy); Dries Mertens (Belgium); Valon Behrami, Gökhan İnler, Blerim Džemaili (Switzerland); Gonzalo Higuaín, Federico Fernández (Argentina); Camilo Zúñiga, Pablo Armero (Colombia)
Napoli players out: Marek Hamšík (Slovakia); Goran Pandev (Macedonia)
Still waiting: Pepe ReinaRaúl Albiol, José Callejón (Spain)