Europe’s eight play-off contenders, in numbers

0
20



  • Denmark and Northern Ireland are appearing in the play-offs for the first time
  • Switzerland, Croatia and Italy all have 100-percent play-off records
  • Eight teams learned their play-off opponents on 17 October

The best eight second-placed sides in the European qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ now know who they have to beat if they are to make next year’s world finals. We take a look at the eight nations’ respective play-off records to see if they offer them any grounds for optimism.

CROATIA 

Four previous World Cup appearances: 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2014.

Best performance was at France 1998, where they finished third. 

  • Previous play-offs (2/2) 

    Croatia won both their two previous play-offs, beating Ukraine 3-1 on aggregate en route to France 1998 and Iceland 2-0 in reaching Brazil 2014.



DENMARK
 

Four previous World Cup appearances: 1986, 1998, 2002 and 2010.

Best performance came at France 1998, where they reached the quarter-finals.

  • Previous play-offs (0/0)

    Denmark have never taken part in a play-off before.



GREECE
Three previous World Cup appearances: 1994, 2010 and 2014.

Best performance came at Brazil 2014, where they reached the Round of 16.

  • Previous play-offs (2/3)
    Greece lost the first of their three play-offs, to Hungary in the qualifiers for France 1938, but beat Ukraine 1-0 on aggregate on the road to South Africa 2010 and Romania 4-2 en route to Brazil 2014.

NORTHERN IRELAND
Three previous World Cup appearances, the last of which came at Mexico 1986.

Reached the quarter-finals at Sweden 1958 and the second round at Spain 1982. 

  • Previous play-offs (0/0)
    Northern Ireland have never taken part in a play-off before.



ITALY
Four-time world champions: 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006

Absent from only two world finals competitions: Uruguay 1930 and Sweden 1958.

  • Previous play-offs (1/1)

    In their one and only play-off appearance, the Italians defeated Russia 2-1 on aggregate in the qualifiers for France 1998, with the great Gianluigi Buffon making his international debut in goal in the first leg in Moscow on 29 October 1997.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Three previous World Cup appearances: 1990, 1994 and 2002.

Best performance came at Italy 1990, where they reached the quarter-finals.

  • Previous play-offs (1/4)

    Republic of Ireland lost 1-0 to Spain in a play-off on neutral ground in the England 1966 qualifying competition. They also lost 3-2 on aggregate to Belgium in the qualifiers for France 1998 and 2-1 on aggregate to France (after extra time) in the South Africa 2010 preliminaries. Their one and only play-off win was a 2-1 aggregate defeat of Iran in an intercontinental tie in the Korea/Japan 2002 preliminaries.



SWEDEN


11 previous World Cup appearances, though they have missed the last two.

Best performance came on home soil in 1958, when they finished runners-up.

  • Previous play-offs (1/3)

    Sweden’s only play-off success was a 2-1 defeat of Austria in a tie held on neutral ground in the qualifiers for Germany 1974. They lost 2-1 to Switzerland in another one-off match in the Chile 1962 preliminaries and went down 4-2 on aggregate to Portugal in the play-offs for Brazil 2014.



SWITZERLAND


Ten previous World Cup appearances. 

Korea/Japan 2002 was the last world finals the Swiss failed to reach.

Best performances came in reaching the quarter-finals at Italy 1934, France 1938 and Switzerland 1954.

  • Previous play-offs (2/2)

    The Swiss beat Sweden 2-1 in a single play-off match en route to Chile 1962 and advanced to Germany 2006 on the away-goals rule after drawing 4-4 with Turkey over two legs.

Click on the link for more detailed information on all eight teams’ play-off records (hyperlink).



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY