Are the gaps between the top tier and the rest of European football getting smaller, or was this just a fluke kind of evening, with Germany, Spain and Portugal failing to win at home, while Serbia, Turkey, Slovenia and Ukraine gathered some unexpected and complicated losses?
The most shocking result of all was what happened in Berlin, as Germany somehow wasted a 4-0 lead, 55 minutes in, succumbing to incredible Swedish spirit, led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, coming back to 4-4 as Rasmus Elm scored a neat volley three minutes into injury time.
Another huge surprise was Portugal failing to win against Northern Ireland, which actually puts them behind Israel in the Group F table. Another bad performance from the Portuguese side who seem to hate these qualifying campaigns. This time, it was a 79th minute goal by Postiga that saved them a point at home.
And there was Spain vs France, which ended 1-1. Yes, in this era, France managing a draw in Spain is quite a surprise, especially when for 65 minutes the French side hardly makes it past the halfway line. Spain missed a penalty kick that could have closed the match, but in all truths, France were the better side in closing third of the game, and deserved a point coming out of Madrid.
And then there’s the continuous fall of Serbia, suffering a second defeat in four days by losing at Macedonia 1-0, leaving them six points behind Croatia and Belgium. We have Turkey, who lost at Hungary 1-3, and are now six points behind Hungary and Romania for the second spot battle, nine points behind the Netherlands for the top spot.
And Albania?! Beating Slovenia? Group E is one of the more complicated and unpredictable in the qualifiers, except for Switzerland who look to be a level above the rest in that one. Slovenia are tired with Cyprus for last in the group.
Any more? Ukraine losing at home to Montenegro means that they’re still without a win in the qualifying campaign, five points behind both England and Montenegro. And in South America, Uruguay are continuing their disappointing campaign, losing at Bolivia 4-1, keeping them at 12 points, tied with Chile and Venezuela in spots 4-6, 8 points behind table leaders Argentina.