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European 2018 World Cup playoffs analysis

European World Cup 2018 playoffs: 2nd leg kick-off times, date, match facts

November 12, 2017 By Michelle Bonsu
With the first leg completed, 90 minutes remain for eight teams to battle for the four remaining spots at next year's World Cup. takes a look at what everyone needs to do to get there.

The first leg has now concluded, meaning that 90 minutes are all that remain for Greece, Croatia, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, and Switzerland to try to seal a spot at next year's World Cup.

Some of these teams have a very realistic shot, whilst others will face a battle against history if they want to be on the plane to Russia. Meanwhile, one of these teams could be facing a shock elimination for the first time in 60 years should they not be able to overturn a narrow deficit on Monday.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the second legs, starting from today.

What are the matchups?

Switzerland will take on Northern Ireland to kick off the second legs at 12:00 EST/18:00 CET, followed by Greece hoping to pull off what would be an unprecented comeback against Croatia at 14:45 EST/20:45 CET on Sunday, November 12th.

Then, on Monday, November 13th, it's all or nothing for Italy, as they aim to avoid missing out on their first World Cup since 1958 as the Azzurri welcome Sweden at 14:45 EST/20:45 CET.

Finally, on Tuesday, November 14th, the Republic of Ireland will lock horns with Denmark, also at 14:45 EST/20:45 CET in a winners-take-all match. 

What are their FIFA world rankings?

  • Switzerland: 11
  • Italy: 15
  • Croatia: 18
  • Denmark: 19
  • Northern Ireland: 23
  • Sweden: 25
  • Republic of Ireland: 26
  • Greece: 47

Who are the key players absent?

As a result of the dubious penalty given to Switzerland, Northern Ireland will have to make do without key midfielder Corry Evans due to suspension. Stuart Dallas is another who could miss out after sustaining a nasty injury following a bad foul from Swiss defender Fabian Schär - who managed to nonetheless remain on the pitch despite the incident.

Meanwhile, hosts Switzerland could be missing key man Blerim Dzemaili for this tie. Moving on elsewhere, the Azzurri will have to overturn their slim 1-0 deficit without midfielder Marco Verratti, who picked up yet another yellow card and thus is suspended for their upcming match.

Head to head

Greece vs Croatia

Greece wins: 2

Draws: 3

Croatia wins: 2

Switzerland vs Northern Ireland

Switzerland wins: 2

Draws: 1

Northern Ireland wins: 2

Italy vs Sweden

Italy wins: 10

Draws: 6

Sweden wins: 7

Ireland vs Denmark

Ireland wins: 5

Draws: 6

Denmark wins: 3

Key facts

  • No team has overturned a 4-1 first-leg deficit in a World Cup play-off - so Greece truly are facing an uphill battle after losing the first leg to Croatia
  • Swiss have won nine competitive home games since 2-0 loss to England in September 2014
  • Northern Ireland have won two of their last three competitive away matches, conceding just once
  • Italy are unbeaten in 44 competitive home games (W36 D8) since 1999
  • Ireland have lost one of last 13 competitive home games (W7 D5)

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