Portugal is fighting with Switzerland to win Group B, and automatically advance to the 2018 World Cup. While Portugal is guaranteed to at least make the playoff, fans would much rather go ahead and punch their ticket to Russia.
Portugal squares off with Switzerland in the final qualifying match before the eight-team playoff. Heading into the match, Portugal trails Switzerland by three points in the standings. Even with a win, the best they can do is tie Portugal.
However, Portugal would own the advantage in goal differential so essentially a win sends Portugal through. If Switzerland loses, they would head to the playoff where the remaining four spots are determined.
A Portugal loss or draw would send them to the playoff. Just how does the playoff work? It is a complicated process that BBC details below.
Eight of the nine European runners-up go into a two-legged play off for four places at next year’s finals. That means the runner-up with the fewest points misses out.
It is important to note that results against the bottom side in each group do not count in the final play-off standings.
The ranking of second-placed teams in the qualifying groups is determined by the highest number of points. If teams are equal on points, positions are decided by goal difference, goals scored, goals scored away from home and fair play points.
According to BBC, the draw for the playoff will be determined on October 17. Europe is split into nine groups. The winner of each group automatically heads to the World Cup. Europe has another four spots for Russia that will be determined by the playoff.
Here’s a look at the current Europe Group B standings.
Europe World Cup Qualifying Standings: Group B