Whilst a few countries like Brazil, England and Spain can go in to their final two World Cup qualifiers safe in the knowledge that they have already made it to South Africa in 2010, the situation isn’t as clear cut for a number of other sides.
Their matches this weekend and next Wednesday will determine whether they too will be part of the greatest tournament in the world.
Footy Boots looks at a few players who could make all the difference for their team mates, coach and population at large.
Argentina v Peru / Uruguay v Argentina
There’s a religion in Argentina called ‘El Diego’ that has 100,000 members such is the popularity of former World Cup winner Diego Maradona. But following a 6 – 1 hiding in Bolivia followed by 3 successive defeats, Mardona has his work cut out to get his side in to the mix for next year’s final’s.
It’s not that they don’t have the talent – far from it. Just that Maradona has failed the get the best from his squad. So step forward Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona forward, in his custom built adidas F50i’s must make a contribution against bottom side Peru on Saturday and away to Uruguay on Wednesday.' But even 2 wins might not be enough. It could be the play-off’s for Argentina or worse still, four years of national mourning!
Russia v Germany
This is a straight shoot out between the Russian’s and German’s in European qualifying Group 4. Whoever wins will top the group going in to the final matchday and with Germany at home to Finland and Russia away to Azerbaijan, Saturday’s game is the important one.
Both coaches have called on their sides to keep a clean sheet so the actions of the forwards is going to be crucial. Germany have Miroslav Klose, currently in third place in the Castrol Performance data. Klose is expected to wear the Nike CTR360 Maestri.
Meanwhile, Russia’s top scorer is Roman Pavlyuchenko. He may be struggling at White Hart Lane but he’s hit 5 goals in qualifying so far. Back in September against Wales, Pavlyuchenko played in the adidas F50.9 Rome but has been training this week in the F50i.
Ukraine v England
A strange game to choose perhaps seeing as England have already qualified whereas the best Ukraine can hope for is a play off spot. But one player will certainly be fired up for the game – Ukraine’s Andriy Shevchenko. His stay in the Premier League with Chelsea never really worked out and only today the Daily Mail newspaper included Shevchenko on their list of the 50 worst striker’s ever to play in the EPL. At number 8 in case you were wondering.
So Shevchenko, now back at Dynamo Kiev and wearing the Reebok Valde Pro, will be doubly keen to show that he’s still got it. Two wins for Ukraine would be enough to take them in to 2nd spot above Croatia.
Republic of Ireland v Italy
The Republic are in an extraordinary position of still being able to win Group 8 but also missing out all together. But a positive result against Italy on Saturday will guarantee Trapatoni’s men 2nd place at least with the final positions coming down to Wednesday’s games when the Republic host Montenegro and Italy the Cypriots.
At least the Republic goes in to the Italy clash with a striker in rich vein of form. Robbie Keane, who wears the Nike Total 90 Laser II, has scored 6 times this season, 4 of those coming in a 5 – 0 home win for Spurs over new boys Burnley.
Honduras v USA
Another Spurs player could be instrumental in this game, the much capped Wilson Palacios. The Honduran ace has played in every EPL game for Tottenham this season and has helped his international side to pick up 9 points from their last 4 games.
The USA currently tops the group with 16 points, with Mexico on 15 and Honduras 13. San Pedro Sula is the venue for tomorrow’s encounter between the Hondurans and the USA who will be without star striker Clint Dempsey.
Palacios, in his Umbro Speciali’s, will be hoping that he, along with the likes of David Suazo and Carlos Pavon can put one over on the States and continue their fine progress towards South Africa 2010.