Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5th is a special date for Real Madrid





On February 5th, 1984, Emilio Butragueno made his debut with Real Madrid.  He would become an icon of his generation.  A year later, a boy was born in Funchai, Portugal.  He would grow up to wear Butragueno's number 7 jersey at Real Madrid. His name is Cristiano Ronaldo.




Meanwhile, Neymar, Gheorghe Hagi, Carlos Tevez and  Cesare Maldini all share the same birthday.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wales and Israel's World Cup Qualifiers


The World Cup Qualifying campaigns for both Wales and Israel were probably the strangest ever.  Israel actually "qualified" for the World Cup Finals in Sweden, but ended up playing in a playoff series vs Wales.  


In the original WC qualifying round, Wales came second behind Czechoslavia in Group 4 of the European zone. Only the group winners qualified for Sweden.

Meanwhile, Israel had a "successful" campaign in the Africa/Asia zone and qualified for the World Cup Finals.



First round
Israel was set to play against Turkey, but Turkey, a Muslim country, refused to play Israel and withdrew. Israel advanced to the next round.

Second round
Israel was set to play against Sudan, Egypt and Indonesia, but the Muslim countries refused to play Israel and withdrew. Israel advanced to the next round.

Final round
Israel was set to play against Sudan, but Sudan, a Muslim country, refused to play Israel and withdrew. Israel technically qualified for Sweden 1958.

But FIFA ruled that no team would qualify without playing at least one match (except for the defending champions and the hosts), and Israel had yet to play any. So a special play-off was created between Israel and the runner-up of one of the UEFA Groups, where the teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis, with the winner qualifying. After Belgium rejected the invitation, Wales played and beat Israel in the special playoff.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.