All the stats you need for World Cup UEFA Play-offs
Eight teams fight for four spots
Next month will see eight nations bid for the four remaining UEFA spots at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
For the neutral, World Cup play-offs can produce some of the best sporting drama.
But for fans of those nations involved, it’s often the pinnacle of footballing tension.
The first legs will take place on November 9,10 and 11, with the make or break second legs a few days later on November 12, 13 and 14.
Here the Coral News Team have broken down each of the four crucial contests…
Denmark v Republic of Ireland
ROI – P 10 W 5 D 4 L 1 GF 12 GA 6 PTS 19
DEN – P 10 W 6 D 2 L 2 GF 20 GA 8 PTS 20
Head-to-head: P 12 ROI 5 D 4 DEN 3
The Republic of Ireland should fancy their chances for this clash with Denmark.
The Boys in Green are unbeaten in the last four meetings, a run stretching back to 1985.
And though the Danes boast quality with the likes of Christian Eriksen, and hammered Poland 4-0, they lost at home to Montenegro, drew with Romania and only just beat Armenia.
Given Martin O’Neill’s tactical nous, the Republic’s team unity and the fact the second leg is in Dublin, this is a very winnable play-off.
Northern Ireland v Switzerland
NI – P 10 W 6 D 1 L 3 GF 17 GA 6 PTS 19
SWI – P 10 W 9 D 0 L 1 GF 23 GA 7 PTS 27
Head-to-head: P 2 NI 1 D 1 SWI 0
Take Germany out of the equation, and Northern Ireland conceded just once in qualifying.
With that in mind Michael O’Neill’s men will be a real test for Switzerland.
The Swiss missed out on top spot through a lack of goals scored – which may just play into Northern Ireland’s hands.
And though they’ve only met twice before, the Green and White Army are unbeaten against their continental opponents.
Sweden v Italy
SWE – P 10 W 6 D 1 L 3 GF 26 GA 9 PTS 19
ITA – P 10 W 7 D 2 L 1 GF 21 GA 8 PTS 23
Head-to-head: P 23 SWE 7 D 6 ITA 10
While the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland can be satisfied with their lots, Sweden drew the short straw in Italy.
The Italians cruised through their group, although they failed to offer much to Spain.
Nevertheless, they should have plenty in hand to oust the Swedes and they’re unbeaten in the last five meetings.
The Scandinavian side may have finished above the Netherlands to bag second, but only because the Dutch lost away in Bulgaria.
Croatia v Greece
CRO – P 10 W 6 D 2 L 2 GF 15 GA 4 Pts 20
GRE – P 10 W 5 D 4 L 1 GF 17 GA 6 Pts 19
Head-to-head: P 6 CRO 1 D 3 GRE 2
Croatia v Greece is unlikely to make headlines, but it should be a fairly even encounter.
With Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, the Croatians should arguably have topped their group. But a failure to break down Finland proved costly.
So if they again fail to click up front, the defensively organised Greece could punish them.
The Greeks were good enough to almost beat free-scoring Belgium in Brussels, so they mustn’t be discounted here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing