The qualifying campaign for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ is slowly drawing to a close in Europe, with Germany, England, Spain, France and Switzerland all on the brink of securing their places at next summer’s tournament in North America. FIFA.com takes a look back at the latest developments in the race to Canada.
*Germany extend lead at top
*National team coach Silvia Neid celebrated her 50th birthday in style, with another win maintaining her side’s 12-point cushion over second-placed Russia. The comfortable 9-1 rout of Slovakia on 8 May represented the eighth win in as many qualifying matches for the reigning European champions. The victory also means that the Nationalmannschaft have all but sealed top spot in Group 1, a position which would guarantee automatic qualification for next summer’s flagship event. Elsewhere in the group, Russia beat the Republic of Ireland 3-1 and have three games in hand on the section leaders.
The two-horse race between Scotland and Sweden in Group 4 shows no signs of letting up, with both teams registering important victories ahead of their meeting on 14 June. The Scots won their match against Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 on 10 April, while Pia Sundhage’s Sweden side took all three points as they saw off Northern Ireland thanks to goals from Therese Sjogran, Lina Nilsson and Caroline Seger. The *Blagult *had already beaten the Northern Irish 4-0 in their first meeting on 5 April. Scotland now lead the group on 18 points, with Sweden just three points behind.
*Swiss edge closer
*Switzerland are on the verge of securing World Cup qualification for the first time. Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s charges defeated group rivals Iceland 3-0 in Nyon and are now firm favourites to book their place at next summer’s global showpiece. Goals from Vanessa Bernauer, Vanessa Burki und Lara Dickenmann wrapped up a sixth win in seven matches for the Eidgenossen. The Swiss occupy pole position in Group 3, boasting a 10-point lead over Iceland and Israel. However, both countries have played two games fewer than the Nati.
“Our victory today means we’ve extended our lead at the top of the group and have three more points on the board. It was important to beat Iceland, as they could’ve caught us if they’d won. We’ve moved one step closer to Canada. We now have three more games to play. We want to perform well and win them all,” said Voss-Tecklenburg after the final whistle.
*Trio defend top spots
*France, Spain and England also gave a clear indication of their intentions for the current qualifying campaign. The Spanish ran out 5-0 winners over Estonia in Group 2 to register their seventh win in eight outings, thus maintaining their lead over Italy, who thrashed FYR Macedonia 11-0.
Les Bleuettes eased to a comprehensive victory over their Hungarian visitors in Besancon and now lead Group 7 with 21 points. Their closest challengers, Finland, who have maximum points after their first five matches, still have two games in hand on the French.
England’s prospects of crossing the Atlantic next summer also look promising. Mark Sampson’s team continued their perfect start to the campaign by beating Ukraine 4-0, with Natasha Dowie and Eniola Aluko grabbing a brace apiece. The Three Lions have won all six of their matches in Group 6 and are yet to concede a goal as they close in on a berth for Canada.