World Cup playoffs: All you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s draw
In a much less breezy Zurich, Ireland will find out on Tuesday who their opponents are
Ireland’s James McClean celebrates with David Meyler after the final whistle of their World Cup qualifier against Wales. Photo: Geoff Caddick/Getty Images
A week has passed since James McClean stuck the ball in the Welsh net and we are now just hours away from discovering who Ireland’s opponents will be in the 2018 World Cup playoffs.
Pemutations are forgotten and the teams that will be seeded and unseeded have been confirmed in the latest Fifa rankings which were published on Monday morning.
So, without further ado, let’s get to the details of the playoffs.
When is the draw?
The playoff draw will take place on Tuesday, October 17th at Fifa headquarters in Zurich with the start time due to be 1pm Irish time – perfect to plan your lunch break around.
How can I watch the draw?
Who can Ireland get?
The eight qualified teams have been divided into two pots based on the world rankings, announced by Fifa on Monday. From those rankings we know that Switzerland (11th), Italy (15th), Croatia (18th) and Denmark (19th) will be in pot one and will play one of the four teams in pot two. The second pot will contain Northern Ireland (23rd), Sweden (25th), Republic of Ireland (26th) and Greece (47th).
That means that Ireland’s possible opponents are Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark.
When will the matches be played?
Home and away fixtures will be played between November 9th and November 15th. The order of fixtures will be determined by the draw. Once one ball has been taken from pot one and another from pot two, they will be placed in a central pot, mixed and then drawn one by one. The first ball drawn will host the first leg between November 9th and 11th. The return leg takes place between November 12th and 14th. The winners of each playoff will advance to the draw for the 2018 World Cup on December 1st in the Kremlin.
What is our playoff record like?
Ireland have won three of eight play-off ties, but two of those wins have come at the last two attempts, against Estonia to go to Euro 2012 and Bosnia-Herzegovina to advance to Euro 2016.
The last time we reached a World Cup was also via a playoff when Mick McCarthy’s side overcame Iran in 2001. For an in-depth look at Ireland’s playoff history you can read: Celebrations, riot police and that handball: A history of Ireland in playoffs.
Will Ireland have anyone suspended for the first leg?
Yes, but just the one. David Meyler’s yellow card for a late tackle on Wayne Hennessey in the final seconds of the win over Wales means that he will miss out on the first leg of the playoff.
Who goes to Russia?
The winner is decided on aggregate, so the scorer of the most goals advances to the World Cup finals. In event of a draw on aggregate, away goals apply. If there is still no deciding factor at the end of normal time, then the tie will go to extra time (two periods of 15 minutes), with the away goals rule still applicable. If there is still no winner, then the tie will go to a penalty shootout.