In their complicated group, both France and Spain needed a win to be assured of the top- and play-off spots. Benzema scored his second goal in a row for France after a goal-drought lasting 1,222 minutes for his country. France will now play in the play-offs in November. Spain topped the group after beating Georgia with Iker Casillas back in goal and Sergio Ramos in the starting line-up.
Sami Khedira and Cristiano Ronaldo missed their qualifiers for Germany and Portugal through suspension. Germany would top the group regardless of the result (for the record, they won against Sweden - who were guaranteed second place), and Portugal were guaranteed the play-off spot after Russia topped their group. Both players find themselves in the midst of some mild controversy; Cristiano Ronaldo for what is believed to have been a deliberate sending off against Israel to be able to miss last night's game and Khedira for comments made "lashing out" at the Spanish media.
On the subject of Khedira, quotes of his, criticizing the press and his coach, have been reprinted with what I consider colourful interpretive license, helpfully leaving out the portions of the interview (available only to subscribers of kicker) in which he expressed general optimism about Real Madrid's season (if some disappointment with the way it has begun) and praised Carlo Ancelotti. One imagines the player will not be fussed about the creative license taken by the press: it was, after all, essentially what he was complaining about in the first place, and it is his constant complaint against the German press. The Guardian has reprinted a more acceptable translation, even if it leaves out his praise for Ancelotti. As for his disappointment with the way the season has begun, it's nice to know he isn't satisfied, because no one should be.
On the subject of press attention, a lesson in market realities was made plain yesterday with the report that Arsenal FC might be interested in Karim Benzema in the January or Summer transfer window for something above 20 million Euros - about half the amounts being floated in the summer. A form dip and the resulting press attention means the player is now like a car that was newly bought yesterday but has lost most of its re-sale value overnight. Whether the story is true or not (The Evening Standard is hardly the gold standard) is not the point, of course, it merely says a great deal about transfer-market values and perceptions.
In the unlikely event that transfer goes ahead, Real Madrid would first have to be assured of signing Luis Suarez from Liverpool. He's been chomping at the bit for a transfer away from his club for some time now.
Gareth Bale could be fit against Malaga. This writer would like to wish him the best of luck.