European Qualifiers: World Cup play-off places confirmed

Scotland missed out second place in Group F of the European World Cup qualifying. Had they beaten Slovenia on Sunday it would be them rather than the Republic of Ireland in the draw for the four play-off ties to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals.

The play-off draw will be held in Zurich on 17 October, starting at 14:00CET. Teams will be seeded according to the FIFA rankings published the previous day, with the highest-ranked quartet in Pot 1 and the remaining sides in Pot 2.

Current FIFA rankings for the countries in the play-offs are as follows:

Switzerland – 7th
Italy – 17th
Croatia – 18th
Northern Ireland – 20th
Sweeden – 23rd
Denmark – 26th
Republic of Ireland – 34th
Greece – 47th

The teams will play on a home-and-away basis, with the first leg taking place between 9th and 11th November and the second legs played over the following three days.

The winner of each tie will go into the draw for the World Cup finals on 1st December.

For more details see the UEFA site : http://www.uefa.com/european-qualifiers/news/newsid=2506867.html

Where to watch the World Cup Qualifiers

There’s a host of World Cup qualifying games being played between now and the 9th October, but it’s not always easy to find which channel is showing which match, especially when a lot of the matches are hidden behind the red button.

You probably already know tonight’s main match between Malta and England is live on ITV, but if you’d rather watch one of the other qualifiers then you’ll need to know where to find it.

I could write them all down for you here, but what’s the point when the guys over at Live-FootballOnTV have already done it for you.

See their list of Live world cup football on TV at: http://www.live-footballontv.com/live-world-cup-football-on-tv.html

Group preview of World Cup qualifiers in Europe

Cyprus Mail Online takes a group-by-group preview of the 9 European World Cup qualifying groups. So far each of the teams have played 6 of their 10 qualifying matches, with the remaining games being played between now and 10th October. The group winners automatically qualify for the finals in Russia, with the 8 best second place teams going into the draw for the 2-leg play-offs.

Some of the groups look to be fairly settled already, while others still appear wide open. With teams playing 2 qualifiers over the next week, there’s a lot to play for and the qualifying positions should be a lot clearer after this round of matches.

See the Cyprus Mail preview at: http://cyprus-mail.com/2017/08/31/group-preview-world-cup-qualifiers-europe/

World Cup Qualifiers – Make or break time on the road to Russia

There is less than a year until the 2018 World Cup in Russia kicks off, but there are plenty places left to be sorted out. Three teams have booked their tickets to Russia for next summer. Of course, Russia will be there and they will be joined by Brazil and Iran.

This week’s World Cup qualifiers see several big matches taking place with a berth in Russia at stake. Will France or the Netherlands catch Sweden? Can the Australians find form in Japan? Can Lionel Messi inspire Argentina to victory after sputtering through qualification? A lot of questions will be answered this week.

France vs. The Netherlands

The biggest World Cup qualifier of the week in Europe sees group A’s second and third place teams battling. France sit level on points with first place Sweden, but sit second on goal difference. The Dutch are currently three points back of France and Sweden and desperately need to gain points. Arguably, France have the superior squad and will have the luxury of playing in Paris. The French won the reverse fixture in Amsterdam last October, 1-0. Expect a tight affair with just three qualifiers to play after this contest.

Latest odds:
France to win: 8/15, Netherlands to win: 13/2, Draw: 16/5

Japan vs. Australia

The Japanese are on the brink of World Cup qualification, but a loss to the Australians could change everything. One point separates the two counties along with Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates are right behind all three. Both Japan and Australia could qualify directly from this stage of Asian confederation qualifying, but they could also find themselves having to battle through the fourth qualifying stage. Japan and Australia drew in their last meeting in Melbourne in October. Since then, Japan have reeled off three wins and a draw while the Aussies have drawn two and won two matches. Keep in mind the Australian domestic season doesn’t start until October while the Japanese J League is currently in the middle of its term. Playing in Saitama should help Japan in this one.

Latest odds:
Japan to win: 4/5, Australia to win: 18/5, Draw: 13/5

Greece vs. Estonia

Greece are fighting for qualification and may need to go the route of the playoffs to get to Russia. The Greeks need points to reach the playoffs, however. Currently on 12 points, Greece needs a win over Estonia to be one of the best second place teams in UEFA. Greece won the reverse fixture 2-0, and had little difficulty in recording the win. Currently four points behind group H leaders Belgium, Greece could narrow the gap at the top of the standings on September 3rd when they battle the Belgians in Piraeus. However, the Greeks need a win on home soil against Estonia first.

Latest odds:
Greece to win: 2/5, 
Estonia to win: 11/1, Draw: 10/3

Uruguay vs. Argentina

Could Argentina miss out on the 2018 World Cup? Currently in fifth place (inter-confederation playoff place), Argentina trail fourth place Chile by one point. The Argentines have won just six of 14 qualifiers, and bizarrely lost to Bolivia in their last match in qualification. Third place Uruguay sit one point above the Argentines, and they too lost their last match; 2-1, to Peru. Argentina won the reverse fixture just under a year ago, but that was on home soil. The Uruguayans will have a ruckus crowd behind them when both teams take to the pitch in Montevideo. Luis Suarez should be in the starting XI for Uruguay, while Lionel Messi will be kitted out for Argentina.

Latest odds:
Uruguay to win: 23/10, Argentina to win: 6/5, Draw:9/4 

* Latest odds courtesy of bet365.