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Tite's effect all over Brazil, fun Belgium is back and four other lessons from the World Cup qualifiers

Tuesday 15th November 2016
The November international break, which happens to be the last for the year was very special - particularly because it was all about the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Teams from across the five Confederations took part in this campaign which will eventually produce the 31 teams to join hosts, Russia, at the Mundial in less than two years time.

For many nations, it was certainly an unforgettable experience while others were left to rue their missed opportunities, which might forever thwart their world cup dreams. Nigeria, Egypt and Tunisia are among the biggest winners from Africa, with Belgium, Germany and England impressing from Europe. Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia were also spectacular at the weekend.

Here are six things we learnt from these nail-biting encounters.

1 - Tite's effect all over Brazil

Five wins in his first five games, it's obviously no fluke that Brazil is buzzing in confidence under Tite. The 55-year-old tactician replaced Dunga after an abysmal Copa América Centenario in June as the Seleção failed to progress beyond the group stage. Tite's debut was a resounding 3-0 victory on the road against Ecuador followed by impressive wins against Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and most recently Argentina.

2 - Serge Gnabry is the future of Germany

Not so many players get a look in this days by Germany coach, Joachim Low, due to the large pool of talent available at his disposal. Serge Gnabry knew he had to take his opportunity whenever he gets a call-up. And the former Arsenal star did just that by scoring a hat-trick on his debut as Die Mannschaft thrashed San Marino 8-0. He becomes the first German to score three goals on his international debut in 40 years.

3 - Gary Southgate deserves a shot with England

Gary Southgate might have only managed England for just three games but the former Crystal Palace skipper, at this point, should be considered the number one candidate for the job. Southgate answered a Football Association SOS after Sam Allardyce's messy departure and has led his country to two wins and a draw. The most recent was a 3-0 victory over Scotland - their 49th against their neighbours. But his temporary stint comes to an end after Tuesday's friendly against Spain.

4 - Fun Belgium is back

Belgium is blessed with arguably the best attack in the world which parades the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke and Kevin De Bruyne. But the Red Devils has struggled to make good use of their superb forward players. However, since the appointment of Roberto Martinez as coach, the Belgians has won all three of their qualifiers scoring an incredible 21 goals and conceding just once. Their most recent was an 8-1 thumping of Estonia with Lukaku grabbing a brace.

5 - Mexico ends Columbus hoodoo

Mexico holds a superior head-to-head record over arch rivals, United States of America - winning 34 against the USA's 14. But the Americans have never lost against their neighbours at MAPFRE Stadium Columbus, Ohio. In their four previous meetings, the US were victorious by a 2-0 margin and it looked almost certain to continue on Friday. But shockingly, Miguel Layun and Rafael Marquez struck either side of Bobby Wood's goal to help El Tri break that streak.

6 - Algeria is overrated

Algeria's recent 3-1 slump against Nigeria has further highlighted the country's scandalous ranking. The Desert Foxes are rated 35th in the world and Africa's top team - which isn't exactly a true reflection of their strength. Goals from Chelsea duo, Victor Moses and Mikel Obi ensured that the Super Eagles came out tops against a team that had reigning PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Nabil Bentaleb and Yacine Brahimi. The North Africans are currently bottom of the group after picking just one point from two games.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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