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World Cup play-off hopefuls in profile

Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland and Greece are in Europe's FIFA World Cup play-offs – UEFA.com looks at their credentials.

Republic of Ireland take on Denmark in the play-offs
Republic of Ireland take on Denmark in the play-offs ©Sportsfile

Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark were seeded in the draw for the FIFA World Cup play-offs, which took place last month.

World Cup play-off draw
Northern Ireland v Switzerland (9 & 12 November)
Croatia v Greece (9 & 12 November)
Sweden v Italy (10 & 13 November)
Denmark v Republic of Ireland (11 & 14 November)

NORTHERN IRELAND V SWITZERLAND

Highlights: Northern Ireland 2-0 Czech Republic
Highlights: Northern Ireland 2-0 Czech Republic

Northern Ireland

Group C runners-up: W6 D1 L3 F17 A6
Top scorers: Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis 3

Previous World Cups: 3 – 1958, 1982, 1986
Best performance
: Quarter-finals (1958)

Previous play-offs: none

  • Northern Ireland are the 34th different UEFA member nation to take part in a World Cup or UEFA play-off.
Qualifying highlights: Switzerland 2-0 Portugal
Qualifying highlights: Switzerland 2-0 Portugal

Switzerland

Group B runners-up: W9 D0 L1 F23 A7
Top scorer: Haris Seferović 4

Previous World Cups: 10 – 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014
Best performance: Quarter-finals (1934, 1938, 1954)

Previous play-offs: W1 L0
2006 World Cup: 4-4 v Turkey (won on away goals) – 2-0h, 2-4a

  • No UEFA team have ever failed to qualify after securing 27 points in their group (the Czech Republic making the 2006 World Cup via the play-offs).

CROATIA V GREECE

Highlights: Croatia win in Ukraine to reach play-offs
Highlights: Croatia win in Ukraine to reach play-offs

Croatia

Group I runners-up: W6 D2 L2 F16 A7
Top scorer: Mario Mandžukić 5

Previous World Cups: 4 – 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014
Best performance
: Third place (1998)

Previous play-offs: W4 L0
2014 World Cup: 2-0 v Iceland – 0-0a, 2-0h
UEFA EURO 2012: 3-0 v Turkey – 3-0a, 0-0h
UEFA EURO 2004: 2-1 v Slovenia – 1-1h, 1-0a
1998 World Cup: 3-1 v Iceland – 2-0h, 1-1a

  • Croatia's four qualifications via play-offs is a record.
Highlights: Greece confirm play-off spot
Highlights: Greece confirm play-off spot

Greece

Group H runners-up: W5 D4 L1 F17 A6
Top scorer: Kostas Mitroglou 6

Previous World Cups: 3 – 1994, 2010, 2014
Best performance
: Round of 16 (2014)

Previous play-offs: W2 L0
2014 World Cup: 4-2 v Romania – 3-1h, 1-1a
2010 World Cup: 1-0 v Ukraine – 0-0h, 1-0a

  • Greece could become the first UEFA member nation to reach three World Cups in a row via the play-offs.

SWEDEN V ITALY

Highlights: Sweden lose to Netherlands but qualify
Highlights: Sweden lose to Netherlands but qualify

Sweden

Group A runners-up: W6 D1 L3 F26 A9
Top scorer: Marcus Berg 8

Previous World Cups: 11 – 1934, 1938, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2006
Best performance
: Runners-up (1958)

Previous play-offs: W1 L1
UEFA EURO 2016: 4-3 v Denmark – 2-1h, 2-2a
2014 World Cup : 2-4 v Portugal – 0-1a, 2-3h

  • Sweden scored more goals in their group than any other play-off contenders; indeed their tally of 26 was only bettered by section winners Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Poland.
Highlights: Italy beat Albania in Buffon's 1,000th match
Highlights: Italy beat Albania in Buffon's 1,000th match

Italy

Group G runners-up: W7 D2 L1 F21 A8
Top scorer: Ciro Immobile 6

Previous World Cups: 18 – 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Best performance: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)

Previous play-offs: W1 L0
1998 World Cup: 2-1 v Russia – 1-1a, 1-0h

  • With Uruguay, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina, Spain and France in the finals, Italy are the only previous winners not yet qualified.

DENMARK V REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Qualifying highlights: Denmark 4-0 Poland
Qualifying highlights: Denmark 4-0 Poland

Denmark

Group E runners-up: W6 D2 L2 F20 A8
Top scorer: Christian Eriksen 8

Previous World Cups: 4 – 1986, 1998, 2002, 2010
Best performance
: Quarter-finals (1998)

Previous play-offs: W1 L1
UEFA EURO 2016: 3-4 v Sweden – 1-2a, 2-2h
UEFA EURO 2000: 8-0 v Israel – 5-0a, 3-0h

  • Denmark have lost just one of their last eight competitive home games and are on a three-game away winning streak.
Highlights: Ireland beat Wales to come second
Highlights: Ireland beat Wales to come second

Republic of Ireland

Group D runners-up: W5 D4 L1 F12 A5
Top scorer: James McClean 4

Previous World Cups: 3 – 1990, 1994, 2002
Best performance
: Quarter-finals (1990)

Previous play-offs: W3 L4
UEFA EURO 2016: 3-1 v Bosnia and Herzegovina – 1-1a, 2-0h
UEFA EURO 2012: 5-1 v Estonia – 4-0a, 1-1h
2010 World Cup: 1-2 v France – 0-1h, 1-1a (aet)
2002 World Cup: 2-1 v Iran – 2-0h, 0-1a
UEFA EURO 2000: 1-1 v Turkey (lost on away goals) – 1-1h, 0-0a
1998 World Cup: 2-3 v Belgium – 1-1h, 1-2a
EURO '96: 0-2 v Netherlands – one-off game in Liverpool

  • Ireland's eighth play-off appearance is a record; the next highest tally is Ukraine's six.