"Impelled by her natural curiosity, Pandora opened the jar, and all evil contained escaped and spread over the earth. She hastened to close the lid, but the whole contents of the jar had escaped, except for one thing which lay at the bottom, and that was Hope."
Best Case Scenario: Somehow after losing to Peru, Uruguay still has control over their own fate. Colombia was a must win and they did; which is the only reason they're in this post at all. If they win out they could finish as high as third, which is so silly I don't even smile when I think about what they've put me through. Goal differential gives them the tie-break over everyone still chasing and two wins will see them auto-qualifying.
How They Can Back In: A draw to Ecuador and a win against Argentina still puts them through assuming that neither Venezuela, nor Colombia win their remaining two games. Venezuela has Paraguay and Brasil, and Colombia has a desperate Chile - who still need 1 point to clinch - and Paraguay. This scenario would also eliminate Argentina and the entire population of Montevideo would die with delight. Actually die of happiness. It would also effectively ruin any flicker of bilateralism remaining between the two nations.
What Can't Happen: So long as Venezuela, Argentina, or Colombia keeps winning they must follow suit.
Best Case Scenario: Portugal, on the other hand, does not control their own destiny. They must win their next two and require that Sweden acquire no more than 4 points in their remaining two against Denmark and Albania. They also need to win one of their remaining two games by more goals than Sweden wins it's lone game to beat the tiebreak. Remember that all of this is to finish 2nd with the opportunity to continue qualifying.
How They Can Back In: Sweden must lose out and Portugal can draw their remaining two games to overtake the Swedes on differential. Not exactly likely with Albania on the schedule.
What Can't Happen: Realistically they must win-out and hope that Denmark beats Sweden. Sweden's magic number is 4.
Best Case Scenario: Israel must win out and Greece and Latvia must both lose 1 of their remaining two games. They play each other so that's unlikely considering Luxemborg and Moldova are their other two opponents.
How They Can Back In: Greece and Latvia draw in their match, and neither squad wins by more goals in their last games than Israel wins in its two combined game. That puts Israel in second on goal differential.
What Can't Happen: Israel cannot lose because at least 1 point will be disseminated between Latvia and Greece since they play each other.
What Can't Happen: It's bleak for the Turks, hence my skipping of the other sections. The reason is because Bosnia cannot win either of it's two games, nor cannot it draw both games (because of GD). Bosnia has Estonia and Spain left on the schedule so it's not completely crazy. Again, hope is the agenda here. Obviously Turkey must win out and it wouldn't hurt to accumulate an 11 goal margin to win the tiebreak either, otherwise known as the song, Turkey feat. Memphis Bleek
vs Faroe Islands
Best Case Scenario: Raymond Domenech gets struck by a bus before October 10th
How They Can Back In: Serbia earns no more than 1 point against Romania and Lithuania along with France winning their remaining two by a margin of 9 goals.
What Can't Happen: If Serbia wins any of its next two, ladies and gentleman they will have automatically qualified for the world cup. Also, if somehow France only draws (or less) it's remaining two and Austria wins out, France is gone.
Practically all of Africa is still up for grabs but the Egyptians, a squad I think could do some things in the World Cup, is down 3 points to Algeria and needs some help.
As I watched Andres Scotti's improbable, looping, momentum-defying header slowly bounce across the line to give Uruguay a 2-1 lead over Columbia I couldn't help but wonder about that feeling - hope. "Hope," by its definition contains an irrational element to it. Now, with this two year qualifying campaign coming to an end, I've wondered about the Greek mythology of Pandora's box. We all know the story; it was opened releasing evil and despair on the world but it also released Hope. What this terrible qualifying campaign has made me wonder about is the word, "but" in the previous sentence. Why is there this universal understanding that Hope is not just as evil as the other things released from the box? Why do we assume Hope is a good thing? And why would do we seem to take for granted that Hope is the countermeasure to the other evil qualities. It's a ludicrous notion and I've come to realize this after Uruguay ropes me back in for another month of this interminable qualifying horror story.
October 10th and 14th - those are the dates when this will all finally end and I can once again find solace in the facts, regardless of the outcome. I've gained a new appreciation for reality and it seems to me that the story of Pandora's box is a hilarious double entendre that we've all been missing for the last hundreds of years.
Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.