European teams compete for World Cup

14th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Portugal, Switzerland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic compete in the playoffs Wednesday for the 2010 World Cup.

Paris -- Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo this Wednesday will watch from the sidelines as Portugal plays for the 2010 World Cup.

Ronaldo injured his right ankle in Portugal's defeat of Hungary on Saturday, which put the Portuguese into second place for the play-offs in Group 1.

With Denmark automatically qualified after their 1-0 defeat of Sweden on Saturday, Portugal must beat Malta, especially if Sweden beats Albania in Solna.

Real Madrid banned Ronaldo, their top scorer, from travelling to support his colleagues from the sidelines.

"I wanted to push myself to help my country go to the World Cup," he said.

"I'm upset because I was in a good period of form and so being injured again is something that affects me even more.

"I'm not the country's saviour, but after the defeat against Seville, I wanted to help my Real Madrid team-mates win the next few games."

Group 2 is one of two from the nine in the Europe zone that still has no automatically qualified team. The other is Group 3 where Slovakia and Slovenia are both competing for top spot.

Switzerland leads Group 2 on 20 points from nine games.

Some Swiss remember when Israel beat France 3-2 in a World Cup qualifier at the Parc des Princes in October 1993.

Swiss federation official Martin Trumpler, who spent hours studying their rivals, warned Ottmar Hitzfeld's team to not underestimate the Israelis.

"I've watched the last three games Israel played, against Latvia (0-1), Luxembourg (7-0) and Moldova (3-1). They are really impressive when it comes to moving the ball around low," said Trumpler.

Switzerland's sixth win in the group from nine matches came Saturday when they beat Luxembourg 3-0.

But Hitzfeld warned, "We're still not qualified. We have a very difficult fixture ahead of us, and we have to remember the Israelis are far stronger than Luxembourg.

"I want my players to be 100 percent focused on the job. The thing we have to exploit is the Israelis' tendency to open their game up, thus creating more space."

Slovakia lost 2-0 to Slovenia in Bratislava on Saturday.

The Slovaks must beat Poland on Wednesday. Slovenia will play San Marino.

In third place on 15 points, the Czechs may compete to be runner-up.

Ivan Hasek's team would have to beat Northern Ireland on Wednesday and then depend on San Marino beating Slovenia to return to second place.

Croatia, who are in third place in Group 6, seven points behind England but only one behind Ukraine, travel to Kazakhstan for their final qualifier.

A win there, with a victory for Andorra over Ukraine, would see Croatia reach second place and enter the play-offs.

AFP / Justin Davis / Expatica

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