OK…so UEFA (Europe qualifying) gets 13 teams into Brazil for the World Cup Finals. They start with 53 teams. They are divided into 9 groups. The winner of each group qualifies for the finals. So far, that is Belgium (A), Italy (B), Germany (C), Netherlands (D), Switzerland (E), Russia (F – if they hold onto their 1-0 lead at half). The remaining groups can go either way. At halftime, Greece looks to go in its Group G with Bosnia-Herzegovina to playoff. England plays Poland later with Ukraine still in the running for automatic qualification. Assuming Spain at least draws at home to Georgia, they automatically qualify. But, how are the remaining 4 places allocated?
According to the UEFA qualifying rules, the “eight best group runners up” will contest in home and away based on a draw for the remaining four spots. Not quite sure what that means because, in Group I, France will have played one less game than all the other potential runners up. But, based on the schedule today, my guess is as follows:
Croatia (A), no one from Group B, Sweden C, Romania edging out Turkey in D, Iceland (hopefully) in E, Portugal in F, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Greece in G, Ukraine in H, and France in I. The rules are vague as to how the draw is conducted — do Coca Cola rankings apply? Surely France will not play Portugal….that would be a bummer.
One thing is clear, the playoff round will be between November 15 and 19th of this year.