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Russia's exit not entirely shocking

Updated: December 7, 2009, 11:22 AM ET
By Nate Silver | Special to ESPN.com

It would be a slight exaggeration to say Wednesday's playoff matches, which advanced six teams to South Africa and left six others on the sideline, will be the last meaningful soccer before June's World Cup. Friendlies are likely to be more competitive than usual, as teams seek to finalize lineups and achieve top form. And European club competition will be as fierce as ever; because club play as well as international play is accounted for by the SPI, this will have a slow but steady impact upon ...

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