It’s the Interlull! Club soccer goes on holiday this week — even MLS club soccer — and Fox Soccer Channel goes into a Being: Liverpool marathon (no, seriously, they are), so the 120something-odd teams left in contention (from a starting field of over 200) can do their qualifying thing. Even though the U.S. is doing its best, losing-in-Kingston act to make CONCACAF mildly dramatic, intrigue is hard to come by. Sure, there’s the question of whether Belgium can get it together to qualify (with players Chelsea either has, wants, or could conceivably raid from the likes of Zenit and Werder Bremen), and there are a couple of teams on the World Cup bubble who will face some engaging battles to get in. This is not the week in which this will happen. In fact, there’s a whole lot of mismatchiness and bottom feedery happening. Here’s a look — all games Friday the 12th unless noted otherwise. Some of these games are probably not being televised at all anywhere in the world, honestly:
Cruelty to Small Nations Division
Sweden (FIFA Ranking: 21) vs. Faroe Islands (FIFA Ranking: 158)
Best odds (according to the awesome Oddschecker site, which doesn’t make me feel like a degenerate gambler at all knowing this exists): 1/10 Sweden win, 10/1 draw, 37/1 Faroe Islands win
Fun fact: This game’s being played in Torshavn, the capital of Faroe Islands. The greater metro area (using this term loosely here) has a population of 19,000. The stadium only seats a little more than 6,000, but we’re sure it’s a LOUD 6,000.
This will only be worth watching if: At some point in the game, Sweden goes into a 9-0-1 formation to see if Zlatan can score after going solo through the Faroe Islands Starting XI.
Czech Republic (22) vs. Malta (153)
Best Odds: 1/12 Czech win, 133/10 draw, 43/1 Malta win
Fun fact: Malta’s national team is comprised of a lot of Malta club players, some Cyprus club players, and a Vancouver Whitecap.
This will only be worth watching if: Cech opts for a Luke-learns-to-use-The-Force helmet in place of his usual headgear and plays a full 90 trusting his feelings.
England (5) vs. San Marino (207)
Best Odds: 1/100 England win, 106/1 draw, San Marino 294/1
Fun fact: There’s one Italian club player on this team, and he plays for Latina. Most of the team plays for San Marino club teams. San Marino’s league is ranked 52nd among European leagues. There are 53. (Suck it, Andorra!)
Also, the game’s at a sold-out Wembley, meaning 90,000 people — almost three times the number of people who actually live in San Marino.
This will only be worth watching if: John Terry gets reinstated, just so the British press and Chelsea haters everywhere can go nuts.
USA (32) vs. Antigua and Barbuda (106)
Best Odds: 1/5 USA win, 13/2 draw, 33/2 Antigua and Barbuda win.
Fun fact: This is how Antigua and Barbuda promotes itself on its tourism website: “The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into English Harbour now fuel one of the world’s foremost maritime events, Sailing Week. The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today’s trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery soft beaches. The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the fascinating little island of Barbuda — once a scavenger’s paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs — is now home to one of the region’s most significant bird sanctuaries.”
This will only be worth watching if: You can find BeInSport and you love America. The game’s in St. John’s, so it’s being carried on The Network No One Has.
Aren’t They Cute Division
Solomon Islands (141) vs. New Caledonia (113)
Best odds: 63/50 Solomon Islands win, 49/25 New Caledonia win, 47/20 draw
Fun fact: According to infallible Wikipedia, Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands, “is unique as the stand is built into the hillside so there is no official capacity but no more than 20,000 would fit the surrounding grassland.”
This is what it looks like:
This will only be worth watching if: You have money on the game. And if you do, you probably have an incurable gambling addiction.
Liechtenstein (155) vs. Lithuania (110)
Best odds: 10/21 Lithuania win, 10/3 draw, 7/1 Liechtenstein win.
Fun fact: There’s a book about Liechtenstein’s quest to get into the 2002 World Cup, appropriately called Stamping Grounds. (Incidentally, they lost all eight qualifying matches, scoring 0 and giving up 23 in the campaign, and did not get into that World Cup. Or any World Cup ever, for that matter.)
This will only be worth watching if: The teams decide to merge into a single super-team called Lichthuania and challenge all other European teams.
Qatar (101) vs. Uzbekistan (70) (on Tuesday, Oct. 16)
Best odds: 13/11 Qatar win, 12/5 draw, 11/4 Uzbekistan win.
Fun fact: Qatar, as you know, is hosting the 2022 World Cup. Here’s some stadium porn to make you feel better about organizers trying to cool the stadiums since it could be upwards of 120 degrees when some of the games kickoff. And to make you feel better about the world’s 101st ranked team getting an automatic qualifying spot (though if that’s what it takes to keep North Korea out, that’s fine).
This will only be worth watching if: There’s a repeat of this awesomeness from the 2010 Asian Games. (Can’t decide if the music adds to or detracts from the comedy gold.)
San Marino (207) vs. Moldova (154) (on Tuesday, Oct. 16)
Best odds: 1/5 Moldova win, 5/1 draw, 11/1 San Marino win
This will only be worth watching if: All other soccer games in the world can’t be played. Not to pile on San Marino or anything, but they’re underdogs to a team that sits two spots below St. Vincent and the Grenadines (not to be confused with the St. Vincent on tour with David Byrne right now) in the world rankings.
England’s Little Brother Division
Wales (57) vs. Scotland (56)
Best odds: 15/8 Wales win, 17/10 Scotland win, 25/11 draw.
Fun fact: This Telegraph article compares Stephen Fletcher to Carlos Tevez. With a straight face, seemingly.
This will actually be worth watching because: Tons of familiar EPL and SPL faces, plus who doesn’t love a good grudge match between Britain’s two desolate, rocky outposts?
The One Really Good Game
Argentina (4) vs. Uruguay (7)
Messi/Tevez/Aguero etc. vs. Forlan/Suarez/Cavani etc. Thank you, FIFA, for giving us something.
If there’s a livestream link out there that doesn’t lead to a betting site rabbit hole, we’d love to know.