World Cup 2018 playoffs draw: Italy to face Sweden, Ireland meets Denmark

By Chris Myson 17 October 2017
World Cup 2018 playoffs draw: Italy to face Sweden, Ireland meets Denmark

Italy has been drawn to face Sweden in the World Cup playoffs, while the Republic of Ireland will face Denmark.

Northern Ireland takes on Switzerland and Croatia meets Greece after Tuesday's draw, which was made by Spain great Fernando Hierro in Zurich.

Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark were the four seeded teams in the playoffs, with Northern Ireland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland and Greece unseeded.

Italy finished as runner-up to Spain in qualification Group G and must now pass a tough two-legged test against Sweden if it is to reach a 15th consecutive World Cup, with the 2018 edition in Russia beginning next June.

Republic of Ireland faces the lowest-ranked of the seeded teams in Denmark, which lost out to Poland in its qualifying group.

Northern Ireland finished behind world champion Germany but ahead of nations like the Czech Republic and Norway in the group stage. It now faces a tough test against the Swiss, the highest-ranked team in the playoffs at No. 11.

Croatia meets near neighbor Greece, which at No. 47 in the world was comfortably the lowest-ranked of all eight sides in the draw.

The first leg of the playoff ties will be played over Nov. 9-11, with the second legs promptly following on Nov. 12-14.

Four nations will emerge from the ties to join France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium, Iceland and hosts Russia as the 14 European representatives at the tournament.

As well determining the seedings for the playoffs, the latest batch of FIFA rankings will be used for the main World Cup draw in December.

Spain and England will be in pot two for the World Cup, as will Italy if it progresses against Sweden. It means those major nations could face top-seeded sides like Germany, Brazil and Argentina at the event.

European World Cup playoff draw in full

Northern Ireland v Switzerland
Croatia v Greece
Denmark v Republic of Ireland
Sweden v Italy

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