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While the majority of the World Cup 2018 field of teams will be set by October 10, there is still work to be done before all 32 teams have punched their ticket to Russia. Europe has the most automatic qualifying positions, and four European spots will still be up for grabs at the end of the regular qualifying period.
The top eight European runner-ups will square off in a playoff tournament. According to the Irish Times, the draw will take place on Tuesday, October 17 at 8 a.m. Eastern.
The first leg of playoff matches will begin November 9 and run through November 11. The second leg takes place November 12 through November 14. The field of teams will be set by the end of the day, but the playoff format is a bit more complicated.
BBC details the draw and playoff format.
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.
Fifa says teams will be seeded for the draw on 17 October, with the top four sides according to its rankings at the time in one pot and the remaining four in another.
Once the matchups are set, teams will play each other in two matches. The four winning countries will advance to Russia.
According to BBC, here are the eight teams who would be in the playoff heading into the final day. We will update this list once today’s matches have gone final.
Current World Cup European Playoff Teams
Standings are prior to final day of qualifying matches.
|6. Northern Ireland||13|
|8. Republic of Ireland||13|
Check out more World Cup 2018 coverage from Heavy.