World Cup Playoff Draw Highlights European Teams

World Cup Playoff Draw Highlights European TeamsWorld Cup Playoff Draw Highlights European Teams

As the race to qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup hots up, the draw for the best second-placed teams was made on Tuesday.

Four-time World Cup champions Italy is to face Sweden, but will play away first, reported.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson said: “It’s two tough games but it would have been the same with other countries. Their history is good, they’ve got good experience but now we start work and will go for it”.

In order to secure a berth among the final 32 teams in Russia, Northern Ireland will have to beat Switzerland.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill said: “We knew it was going to be difficult. They’ve had a good campaign, but we have a big opportunity to get to Russia. The most important thing is we don’t concede an away goal. We’ll be prepared for Belfast. We’ve only lost one game there in four years”.

After their dramatic victory against Wales in the group stage, Republic of Ireland has been rewarded with a draw against Denmark and Croatia will take on Greece.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill said: “I know the Denmark manager, we used to play together. It will be an interesting confrontation”.

Greece coach Michael Skibbe said: “They are a tough team. They are offensive but we are good defensively”.

The first legs are to be played between November 9 and 11, with the second legs following on the 12 to the 14 of next month.

The four winners are to be placed in the World Cup draw to be held on December 1 in the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

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