Google+ PLANET FOOT 7: Italy and Netherlands to Brazil 2014.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Italy and Netherlands to Brazil 2014.

The first side to qualify for the 2014 World Cup from UEFA is The Netherlands, who secured their berth by defeating Andorra on Tuesday.

The Netherlands have secured a berth in the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Andorra. The European minnows surprisingly held the Oranje scoreless in the first half, but Holland rallied back to take all three points and first place in Group D.

It wasn't exactly a hard road for the Dutch, who qualified with two games to spare. A summit seed, they were lucky enough to be drawn in a group consisting of no serious challengers (Turkey's under-performance helped significantly as well), and were absolute until matchday seven, in which they drew 2-2 against Estonia. By that point, though, they were already more or less in the definite.

After falling just short in South Africa, the Netherlands will be hoping that this summer is finally their year. Step one of that journey is now complete.

A win over the Czech Republic sealed Italy's area in the World Cup, making them the second European team to safe their area.

The Netherlands, who became the first team from Europe to qualify for the World Cup upon Tuesday, have been joined in the finals by Italy. Cesare Prandelli's side defeated the Czech Republic 2-1 upon the eighth matchday, clinching the summit spot in qualifying Group B.

Italy have had an impressive qualification campaign, having not lost at all in any of their competitive games. However, they were lucky to be drawn in a group without any equal, with the teams scrapping over the playoff spot - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Armenia and Denmark - every nowhere close the Azzurri's level.

It hasn't entirely been plain sailing, with Cesare Prandelli's side drawing away against Czech Republic and Bulgaria, and winning by unconvincing margins in their two matches against minnows Malta. Having said that, they've solidly completed the qualification task at hand, and have a habit of raising their game when it comes to the huge international tournaments.

With a strong squad and Prandelli finally looking tactically settled after tinkering Claudio Ranieri would be proud of, Italy will be one of the outside contenders when the first ball is kicked in Brazil next summer.

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