The battle to make the football World Cup playoffs in Europe is entering the final stage – and with one game left to go nations now have a good idea what is required to avoid being the worst runners-up.
There are nine groups in UEFA qualifying, and only eight playoffs places, so the runners-up with the fewest points (then goal difference and goals scored if there’s more than one nation with the same points) will miss out.
Greece has played all the games that count towards the calculation, and with Gibraltar left to play at home are effectively second. They have set the low bar at 13 points with a +4 goal difference.
It is slightly confusing, as points gained against the team that finishes sixth are removed from the calculation, hence the table below. The table of current second place teams is as follows (final game in parentheses):
Portugal: 18 points – (h-Switzerland)
Q-Italy: 14 (+3) – (a-Albania)
Sweden: 13 (+10) – (a-Netherlands)
Denmark, 13 (+7) – (h-Romania)
Northern Ireland, 13 (+5) – (a-Norway)
Greece: 13 (+4) – (completed)
Wales, 11 (+2) – (h-Republic of Ireland)
Croatia: 11 (+2) – (a-Ukraine)
Scotland: 11 (-1) – (a-Slovenia)
If all the current second-placed teams win their remaining games, Greece will miss out. One of Greece’s best hopes could be the Group I match between Ukraine and Croatia – if that game finishes as a draw, then the worst group runners-up will have 12 points.
The same goes for Wales vs. Ireland, with a draw the maximum points would be 12 and would send Greece through.