European World Cup 2018 play-off draw: Who will Northern Ireland and Ireland be pitted against?

Telegraph Sport
The Telegraph
European World Cup 2018 play-off draw: Northern Ireland face Switzerland and Ireland play Denmark
European World Cup 2018 play-off draw: Northern Ireland face Switzerland and Ireland play Denmark

What is it?

It's the European play-off draw to determine four of the final nine countries to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next summer.

When is it?

It takes place today in Zurich, Switzerland, so Tuesday, October 17.

What time is it?

At 1pm UK time.

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Who is in the draw? 

The eight teams to make it through to the play-offs from Europe are Sweden, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Croatia. 

Who are seeded?

The seeds were determined by the Fifa world rankings, meaning Switzerland (11th), Italy (15th), Croatia (18th) and Denmark (19th) will have the benefit of a home game in the second leg of the two-leg play-off.

Who can Northern Ireland and Ireland draw?

As Northern Ireland and Ireland are both unseeded, they cannot draw each other, neither will they face Sweden or Greece. It means they will play one of either Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark.

When will the play-offs take place?

The first legs will be played from November 9 to 11 and the second legs between November 12 to 14.

What have they been saying?

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill:

"There's one massive hurdle left and it's hard to say the draw will be kind,.

"Of the four teams we can get, most people would want to avoid the Italians and possibly Croatia. [But] the fact we're there and have the opportunity is fantastic and one we can enjoy.

"This is something we can't fear, we have to embrace it and be positive. We're the smallest nation there, we're probably the least-favoured nation, but this team has continued to surprise."

When is the World Cup draw?

The final draw for the tournament will be held in Moscow on Friday 1 December.

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