Occupations, populations, Porsches and private jets feature. Here, FIFA.com whets your appetite for the UEFA Zone’s upcoming FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers in statistical form.
is the population of Gibraltar, seeing it replace Liechtenstein (37,000) as the least-populace nation competing in UEFA qualifying. Perhaps another statistic can soothe Gibraltarians: Uruguay, the least-populace CONMEBOL member (3.3 million), has won two World Cups and a record 15 Copa Americas.
per cent is the record Bulgaria boast against Luxembourg having won all of their 12 encounters. Luxembourg have not scored in the fixture in eight hours and 40 minutes.
per cent of Ukraine’s qualifying campaigns have ended in them coming second in their group and losing in the play-offs. The only time they reached the World Cup was when they won a pool comprising Turkey, Denmark and Greece, among others, to reach the 2006 event. The Ukrainians lost in the play-offs 3-1 to Croatia in 1997, 5-1 to a Michael Ballack-inspired Germany in 2002, 1-0 to Greece in 2009 and, after winning the first leg 2-0 at home, 3-2 to France in 2013.
World Cup qualifiers without defeat is the astonishing run Spain are on. La Roja last lost 1-0 in Denmark in March 1993, and have since won 41 and drawn 12 matches. Germany and the Netherlands are both unbeaten in the World Cup preliminaries since 1 September 2001, when they lost 5-1 at home to England and 1-0 away to Republic of Ireland respectively. Thereafter, the Dutch have won 29 and drawn three, while the Germans have won 18 and drawn five.
goals without reply is Spain’s record in their six meetings with Liechtenstein – all victories. David Villa got seven of them in four appearances.
successive World Cups is what Germany have qualified for – a European high. They are followed by Italy (14), Spain (10), England, France (both 5) and Portugal (4).
caps is what Sweden’s three goalkeepers have between them – a whopping 125 less than long-time No1 Andreas Isaksson following the recent UEFA EURO. Isaksson was one of six members of the Scandinavians’ squad to retire from international duty after France 2016 – the sextet had 464 caps between them.
divisions down the English football pyramid is where Michail Antonio – the only first-time call-up in Sam Allardyce’s maiden England squad – was playing seven years ago for Tooting & Mitcham United. Thereafter, the midfielder represented Reading, Cheltenham Town, Southampton, Colchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, before West Ham United finally gave him his Premier League break exactly one year ago. The 26-year-old is hoping to join a celebrity crop of player to have exploded from non-league footballer into England international. It includes Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce, John Barnes, Kerry Dixon, Steve Bull, Dave Beasant, Andy Gray, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Warren Barton, Stan Collymore, Kevin Phillips, Steve Guppy, Ben Foster, Chris Smalling and Jamie Vardy, who held down jobs as bricklayers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers and supermarket shelf-stackers, as well as working in beetroot and sausage factories, while playing part-time football!
hours is the time within which Soren Lerby played in Denmark’s final Mexico 1986 qualifier in Dublin and for Bayern at Bochum in the last 16 of the DFB-Pokal! The Danes required victory over Republic of Ireland, and coach Sepp Piontek refused to substitute Lerby – much to the chagrin of Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness, who was gesticulating on the sidelines – until they went 3-1 up after 57 minutes. From there, a police escort – their motorcycle sirens sounding – sped Hoeness and Lerby to the airport, where they got a private jet to Germany and a Porsche to Bochum. When they hit a traffic jam two kilometres from the stadium, however, Lerby got out and ran it! The midfielder ultimately came on at half-time, helped Bayern to a 1-1 draw, scored in victory in the replay, and aided their 5-2 thumping of Stuttgart in that season’s final. Denmark ultimately won 4-1 in the Irish capital and went on to thrill at Mexico 1986.
games unbeaten – including three victories – is the run Kosovo will surprisingly carry into their maiden competitive contest in Finland. Former Switzerland striker Albert Bunjaku has scored three goals in four appearances for the Kosovans.
victory is all Norway boast in 19 attempts against Germany – though, encouragingly, it was in their last meeting in a 2009 friendly. That result ended the Norwegians’ run of seven straight defeats to the Germans.
goals is what Belgium conceded in their six 1974 World Cup qualifiers, only to be pipped to Group 3’s ticket by the Netherlands on goal difference. The arch-enemies’ two clashes finished goalless. No other country has remained perfect in defence during UEFA preliminaries, yet failed to reach the tournament.