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How the qualifying groups will be decided

Published: Monday 14 October 2013, 9.17CET
Four berths in Brazil and seven play-off places will be decided when European FIFA World Cup qualifying ends on Tuesday night. looks at the permutations.
How the qualifying groups will be decided
France can still qualify automatically but are assured a play-off at least ©AFP/Getty Images

Published: Monday 14 October 2013, 9.17CET

How the qualifying groups will be decided

Four berths in Brazil and seven play-off places will be decided when European FIFA World Cup qualifying ends on Tuesday night. looks at the permutations.

Four automatic slots in Brazil and seven play-off berths will be decided when European FIFA World Cup qualifying ends on Tuesday night.

The nine group winners qualify directly for the 32-team finals from 12 June to 13 July 2014, with Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland already through. The eight runners-up with the best records against the sides finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their pool go into November's play-offs, the draw for which takes place at 14.00CET next Monday in Zurich. The four highest-placed nations in the October FIFA world rankings will be seeded for the play-off ties on 15 and 19 November; Sweden are the only country certain of being in the draw.

World Cup finals draw: 6 December (17.00CET), Bahia

Qualified countries: Brazil (hosts), Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, United States

Sure of at least a UEFA play-off place: Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, France, Greece, Russia, Spain (holders)

In the play-offs: Sweden

Sure of a top-two finish: Croatia, Portugal

Able to win group or come third: Ukraine

Able to reach play-offs: Bulgaria, Denmark, Armenia, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Iceland, Slovenia, Montenegro

Group A
Belgium's win in Croatia on Friday ended their 12-year wait for a final tournament appearance. Croatia will finish second but to make absolutely sure of having a good enough record to qualify for a play-off they will need a result in Scotland.

Group B
Italy are guaranteed first place but four nations can still come second. Bulgaria, who have the best goal difference, and Denmark are on 13 points, with the Czech Republic and Armenia on 12. Bulgaria welcome the Czechs, Denmark play Malta and Armenia visit Italy. However, it will be a struggle for the runners-up to avoid being the second-placed side that misses out on the play-offs – the Czech Republic would definitely not be in contention if they ended second.

Group C
There are no issues left to settle: Germany have won the group and runners-up Sweden enter the play-offs.

Group D
The Netherlands are assured of pole position but there is a three-way race for second place involving Turkey, Romania and – two points adrift – Hungary. Turkey are at home to the Netherlands while Romania, four behind in goal difference terms, entertain Estonia and Hungary host Andorra hoping other results go their way.

Group E
Five teams had chances in the tightest of groups, but Switzerland have won the section and Iceland are a point ahead of Slovenia in second, with Norway and Albania out of the running. Iceland know a win in Norway would clinch a play-off while Slovenia, who boast a superior goal difference, visit Switzerland.

Group F
Russia and Portugal have been in close competition all the way but Fabio Capello's side now have a clear three-point edge as they travel to Azerbaijan. Portugal must beat Luxembourg, hope Russia lose, and overturn a seven-goal deficit to finish top.

Group G
As they head to Lithuania aiming to seal a first-ever qualification, Bosnia and Herzegovina have a significant goal-difference advantage over Greece. Greece receive Liechtenstein, but if Bosnia and Herzegovina win, they will need to triumph by a margin at least 17 greater than the current leaders to top the section.

Group H
The four-way race was effectively reduced to two on Friday as England beat Montenegro and Ukraine defeated Poland. England are a point above Ukraine so will qualify by overcoming Poland at Wembley. Any slip and Ukraine would overtake them by winnning in San Marino. Montenegro can still mathematically catch Ukraine but are three points behind with a goal difference deficit of 12. Thus they require San Marino to beat Ukraine and even then Montenegro must defeat Moldova by enough to come second on goal difference.

Group I
Spain have a three-point cushion over France so only need to draw at home to Georgia. France welcome Finland knowing that even if the reigning champions do not lose, a play-off place is the worst they themselves can do.

Last updated: 05/06/15 7.47CET

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