The World Cup European Play offs for four spots are played between top eight second placed teams of the nine groups after UEFA qualification commences. Nine teams have already qualified from Europe for Russia next year, but there are still four spots up for grab where eight teams are drawn in two legged play off matches.
The countries that have qualified so far for next year’s World Cup are –
France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Iceland, Spain, Belgium
Russia have automatically qualified as host country.
Play Off Draw:
The European Play off draw was held on 17th October at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Granit Xhaka of Switzerland will be pivotal for his country
Play Off Rules:
- Eight teams are split in two groups based on their latest FIFA rankings.
- First four top ranked countries are termed as seeded and the other four countries are grouped as the unseeded teams.
- One seeded team is drawn against one unseeded team and they play a two legged tie.
- Winner is based on the aggregate score, same aggregate brings away goal rule in play.
Based on the rankings Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark were the seeded teams
Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden and Greece were the unseeded teams.
Italy finished second in their group behind Spain
- Northern Ireland vs Switzerland
- Croatia vs Greece
- Sweden vs Italy
- Denmark vs Republic of Ireland
In each tie, the team whose name is second, will be playing the second leg at their home.
The first leg will be played from 9th to 11 November, and the return leg will take place from 12th to 14th November
Republic of Ireland’s David Meyler will be missing the first leg against Denmark at Copenhagen and Sweden defender Mikael Lustig will play no part in their first leg against Italy.