Löw limps closer to exit after Germany's latest painful loss
Germany's collapse at the World Cup in Russia the following month meant the final act of Löw's long tenure would be a rebuild. Germany's showing in Russia was its worst World Cup campaign since 1938, and there's been more unwanted history since. Losing to North Macedonia ended a 20-year, 35-game unbeaten run for the national team in World Cup qualifying. AdInjuries have played their part, too, leading Löw to use defensive midfielder Emre Can at left back and right back in successive World Cup qualifiers. Löw has done some useful groundwork for his successor, like persuading 18-year-old Bayern forward Jamal Musiala to choose Germany over England.
Europe's top teams win WC qualifiers as Swiss move goalposts
England's Harry Kane celebrates his side's first goal during the World Cup 2022 group I qualifying soccer match between Albania and England at Air Albania stadium in Tirana, Sunday, March 28, 2021. England won 2-0. Like Spain, France started its qualification campaign with an unexpected draw at home but also got back on track in its second game, easing to a 2-0 win at Kazakhstan. Italy stretched its unbeaten streak to 24 games with a 2-0 win in Bulgaria, and England also moved onto a maximum six points in group play with a 2-0 victory at Albania. Meanwhile, Denmark became the latest European team to use the World Cup qualifiers to direct attention to workers’ rights in 2022 host Qatar.
Portugal, Belgium held in WCup qualifying, Ireland shocked
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the World Cup 2022 group A qualifying soccer match between Serbia and Portugal at the Rajko Mitic stadium in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, March 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)Portugal and Belgium were left frustrated by draws in their World Cup qualifying matches. Stéphanie Frappart made more history as the first woman to referee a men's World Cup qualifier as the Netherlands beat Latvia 2-0. TV replays indicated the ball did cross the line, but goal-line technology and video review aren't used in the World Cup qualifiers. Artem Dzyuba scored both of Russia's goals to move within one goal of the Russian team record of 30 held by retired striker Alexander Kerzhakov.