Predicting Major World Cup Qualifiers and International Friendly This Weekend

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMarch 22, 2013

Predicting Major World Cup Qualifiers and International Friendly This Weekend

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    Domestic action will take a back step this week as international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil take over.

    There's plenty of games to be found in every continent around the world—so many that it's virtually impossible to recap all of them. Yet, what we have done is taken the best from every World Cup qualifying group, and then the best of the friendlies and broken them down.

    Read on to see a preview and prediction of all the top World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies set to grace the football stage this weekend.

CONCACAF: Honduras vs. Mexico

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    Date: Friday, March 22, 2013

    Start time: 5 p.m. ET

    At home, Honduras are one of the top teams in world football—something they showed against the United States in their last encounter and something they'll likely show in this one too.

    Mexico haven't lost a single match in their qualifying process so far and have plenty of talent on hand (as shown with their gold-medal victory at the 2012 London Olympics). However, even with that talent, it's hard to see them getting it done against Honduras.

    Look for the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano to be rocking once more as Los Catrachos' home ground dominance come to the fore once more.

    Prediction: Honduras 1, Mexico 0

    Final Score: Honduras 2, Mexico 2

CONMEBOL: Argentina vs. Venezuela

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    Date: Friday, March 22, 2013

    Start time: 8 p.m. ET

    Tough to see anything other than an Argentinian victory in this one—especially given how much they have to play for in the current qualification process. They have been incredible in the competition, sitting on top of the standings as a result, and will no doubt want to preserve that again in this one.

    Venezuela have struggled away from home in the qualifying process and, now up against one of the best attacking teams in international football on their day, could be in for a long night.

    Look for the Venezuelan defense to open up early and the home side to cruise to a comfortable win. They'll likely still put pressure on Argentina's defense and should find the back of the net as a result, but in the end, it will come as little other than consolation for the visitors.

    Prediction: Argentina 4, Venezuela 1

Europe and UEFA: Hungary vs. Romania

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    Date: Friday, March 22, 2013

    Start time: 3:30 p.m. ET

    It might not have the glamor or high-profile players that several other major qualifiers around Europe do this weekend, but the reality is that Hungary against Romania is the most significant game of them all.

    The two teams sit locked on nine points each in their group (tied for second behind the Netherlands) with the winner of this one likely to gain a huge advantage in their current group. With the World Cup drawing closer with every passing week, this will make for a very fascinating affair indeed.

    Both have shown the ability to score (and concede) goals throughout the competition so far, and it can be assumed that a similar trend will continue in this match. 

    Throw in some political and historical tensions and this one looks set to be a great fiery affair that will go down as one of the weekend's most memorable matches.

    Prediction: Hungary 2, Romania 2

    Final score: Hungary 2, Romania 2

Asia: Australia vs. Oman

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    Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Start time: 4:30 a.m. ET

    Technically, this match doesn't count as a weekend fixture given the fact it's being played on Tuesday, but there are no other Asia-based World Cup qualifiers to choose from. So, as a result, we look forward to Australia and Oman when they take each other on next week. 

    After being held to a 0-0 draw against Oman in their last match, Australia's fixture against Oman is incredibly crucial for their chance at qualifying for the World Cup in 2014.

    The Socceroos are likely to field a full-strength team, including nearly all of their domestic stars, that should see them through with a strong performance here, but it's hard to rule out Oman from putting up some serious resistance again in defense.

    Combined, these two teams are conceding less than one goal per game here—which should see few chances available on the night. But in front of a packed crowd and with their World Cup hopes on the line, expect Australia to come through this one with a strong win in hand.

    Prediction: Australia 2, Oman 0

Oceania: New Zealand vs. New Caledonia

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    Date: Friday, March 22, 2013

    Start time: 2:45 a.m. ET

    New Zealand are clearly the best team in Oceania qualifying this year and should see themselves through with a win here against New Caledonia.

    However, if any team is going to beat the All Whites, then it will be their opponents in this one, who sit second in their group behind New Zealand on nine points. Moreover, New Caledonia have won both of their away matches in the qualification process and showing they can play well away from home, which will seemingly be pertinent to their chances at success here.

    Yet having said all of that, New Zealand are a clear class above the rest of the Oceania field and will show that to be the case again in this one. Their four matches have yielded four wins, 13 goals and just one goal against, and they should record another comfortable win here.

    Prediction: New Zealand 5, New Caledonia 0

    Final score: New Zealand 2, New Caledonia 1

Africa: Cameroon vs. Togo

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    Date: Saturday, March 23, 2013

    Start time: 10:30 a.m. ET

    Cameroon and Togo both possess strong histories through African football, but are both in danger of missing the World Cup entirely after slugging starts in their group.

    The two teams sit last and second last, respectively, in Group I, and whilst it might still be early days, they'll be desperate to avoid falling behind their other group opponents.

    Togo squandered a great opportunity for success at the recent African Cup of Nations and, with Cameroon missing some key players (per BBC Sport), will be keen to earn their first win of the World Cup qualification process for this year. 

    The Indomitable Lions can be a strong team on their day and should be strong at home. But given what's at stake for Togo, it's hard to see them not pulling out a key win away from home here and earning their first win in the World Cup qualifiers.

    Prediction: Cameroon 1, Togo 2

International Friendly: Japan vs. Canada

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    Date: Friday, March 22, 2013

    Start time: 12 p.m. ET

    According to BBC Sport, Japan and Canada is the only international friendly being played this weekend, so it wins as the top such match to watch kind of by default. Yet, at the same time, this match has plenty of talent on show and will still be an excellent game to check out regardless.

    Japan possess a number of high-profile players that always combine well for international fixtures. In their proper World Cup qualifiers, the Samurai Blue are undefeated in their five games—scoring 13 goals and conceding just two in that time also. And when you consider their perfect home record (three played, three won), they appear to be a very formidable opponent for Canada to face.

    Canada will likely field a very young team in this one, as they try to improve their positioning in international soccer for the future. That could work well against a Japanese side simply using this game as a warm-up for the World Cup qualifiers later this month, but even then, it's hard to see them offering enough in attack to beat Japan in front of their home crowd.

    The home should win this one comfortably.

    Prediction: Japan 3, Canada 0 

    Final score: Japan 2, Canada 1


    Note: For those interested in further international friendlies over the next week, Brazil taking on Russia on Tuesday is also shaping as a great game to watch.