Unless something irrational happens, Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal will have to get to the World Cup through a two-legged playoff

Unless something irrational happens, Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal will have to get to the World Cup through a two-legged playoff

One of the complications in the European qualifying process to the World Cup in Brazil is the second place system, which leaves one team from the nine groups out completely, while pitting the other eight in a two-legged playoff, with the seeding based on current FIFA rankings, which should give Portugal, Greece and Croatia a guaranteed seeded slot in the playoffs, and presumably and easier draw.

Things aren’t completely clear in all the groups. Three teams in Group B can still finish second (Bulgaria, Denmark, Armenia), three teams in Group D (Turkey, Romania, Hungary), two teams in Group E (Iceland, Slovenia) while the first place picture in groups F (Portugal and Russia), G (Greece and Bosnia), H (England and Ukraine) and group I (France and Spain) has yet to be determined, although except for the England/Ukraine situation, it’s hard to see Russia, Bosnia and Spain not finishing with the ticket to the World Cup after tonight.

GrpTeam (Sep 2013 FIFA Ranking)PldWDLGFGAGDPtsNotesSixth-placed team
G Greece (12)861194+5191 Liechtenstein
F Portugal (11)8431158+7151,6,R Luxembourg
H Ukraine (26)8431114+7151,3,G San Marino
I France (25)7421126+6141N/A
C Sweden (22)7421128+414 Faroe Islands
E Iceland (54)74121413+1133,G Cyprus
A Croatia (10)732296+3116,R Macedonia
D Turkey (49)731397+2103,R,G Andorra
B Bulgaria (64)714267−173,R,G Malta

But there are complications, especially due to the nine groups, eight teams situation. Croatia should finish among the top 8 and then be seeded if they draw or win in Scotland. If they lose, they’ll need favorable results. They only way they’re not seeded is if England do not win their group.

Russia have a very small chance of not finishing first, but if they do manage to lose against Azerbaijan and Portugal have a big enough win over Luxembourg, the Russians won’t be seeded. They missed out on the 2010 World Cup after losing in the playoffs.

Bosnia, in the same group with Greece, need to win in Lithuania in order to qualify from first place. If they draw, they can only be seeded if either Sweden lose to Germany or Slovenia fail to beat Switzerland – though if England drop into the playoffs Bosnia need both of those results to come off. If Bosnia lose to Lithuania, they would also need France and Ukraine to fail to win.

Sweden are in an interesting position, needing a win over Germany to ensure a seeding, unless England drop into the runners-up group. Should England win, Sweden would need Croatia or Greece to fail to win to move up. However, if Greece make it into the playoffs, a draw might be enough for Sweden unless England fall into the group. If Sweden lose on their final match to Germany, they would only be seeded if England win, plus France, Ukraine and Slovenia fail to win. If Bosnia make it into the playoffs, a draw will be enough for Sweden to be seeded. If they lose, they’ll need England to win against the Ukraine while France, Ukraine and Slovenia fail to qualify.

Slovenia also depend on a lot of other outcomes. If Greece are part of the playoffs, Slovenia must win, England must beat Poland and Sweden must lose to Germany. If Bosnia finish second in that group, Slovenia have to win and hope for one of the following to happen: England fail to beat Poland, Sweden not losing to Germany and Bosnia to beat Lithuania.

France, surprisingly, have a very small chance of being seeded. If Greece make the playoffs, France have to win, while England must beat Poland, Sweden lose to Germany while Ukraine and Slovenia must not win. If Bosnia make the playoffs, France must win, and only one of the following can happen: Sweden and Bosnia must not win, and Ukraine and Slovenia do not win either.

As for teams without a chance of being seeded: Denmark, Montenegro, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iceland, Armenia and Bulgaria, if they make the playoffs.

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Via Dale Johnson