The European Zone begins it’s qualifiers beginning in August of 2008, and just what, you can bet on the World Cup First Stage Qualifiers.
For these purposes, Europe is divided into 9 groups (8 groups of 6 teams and 1 group of 5). The 9 group winners will qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The best 8 teams that don't win a group will have a playoff against each other for 4 additional World Cup spots awarded to the zone.
The first group consists of Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Albania, and Malta. Portugal has to be the odds on favorite to win this group, but I don’t think that Sweden and Denmark are such pushovers. This would be a fun group to bet on and watch, but I do expect Portugal to win it.
The second group (Group 2) is made up of Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Moldova, Latvia and Luxembourg. No one in this group really jumps out a team that will dominate, but I like either Greece or Switzerland to go the World Cup.
Group 3 has the Czech Republic, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and San Marino. I would expect to see Poland or maybe the Czech Republic come out of here. I would like to see Ireland, but I doubt that would happen.
Betting on Group 4, I would have to put my money on Germany. They match up against Russia, Finland, Wales, Azerbaijan, and Liechtenstein. Russia or Finland might give Germany some problems, but even so, they should be able to win this group easily.
Group 5 has a very good Spanish team going against Turkey, Belgium, Bonsia-Herzegovina, Armenia, and Estonia. I would bet on Spain to dominate this group.
The British are coming to group 6, and they should no problem conquering this one. England goes up against Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Andorra. I feel bad for all the other teams in this group, because they really have not shot.
Group 7 has France, Romania, Serbia, Lithuania, Austria, and the Faroe Islands. If I got any kind on odds on France to make it to the World Cup, I would take them.
Italy will be the team to come out of Group 8. They are matched up against Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, and Montenegro. Ireland should really stop playing as North and South and create just 1 team. They might be a lot better then.
The last group is 9. The five (only five) teams that make up this group are Netherlands (who I would bet on), Scotland, Norway, FYR Macedonia, and Iceland. I can’t see anyone but the Netherlands coming out of this group.
Well that’s the list for teams that are trying to get to the World Cup out of the European Zone. We’ll have to wait a bit to see who makes it, but it should be fun!