Friday’s FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers saw Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Colombia join the nine already-qualified sides and hosts Brazil at next summer’s festival of football. Tuesday’s qualifying picture is a complicated one, and FIFA.com is here to guide you through all the possible scenarios and the teams that could book their tickets for Brazil.
Seven sides will join Sweden in the UEFA play-off matches, while New Zealand and Jordan will discover their opponents in the intercontinental play-offs. We’ll round-up every team that still has a chance of reaching the 2014 World Cup.
In accordance with the Regulations of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, teams are separated by points, goal difference and by greatest number of goals scored. If the sides are equal on those criteria, teams will be separated by the results of the games between the sides in the following order: points, goal difference, goals scored, greatest number of goals away from home (if between only two sides).
As there are nine UEFA groups, and eight play-off spots, the second-placed sides are ranked by the previously mentioned criteria (points, goal difference, goals scored) and the top eight will contest the UEFA play-offs. Due to Group I containing five sides, matches against the sixth-placed teams in Groups A-H will not be considered when determining the sides contesting the play-offs.
Belgium have already qualified from Group A, while Croatia are guaranteed second place. Igor Stimac's side are not assured of a play-off place though, as there are three teams (FYR Macedonia, Wales and Scotland) who can finish bottom.
While Italy have topped Group B, behind them are three teams still battling for a play-off place. Bulgaria are the most likely to progress to the play-offs and they will finish second if they beat the Czech Republic, who can also finish second if results go their way. However, if they do so, the Czechs are certain to be the lowest-ranked runner-up and therefore cannot reach Brazil.
Denmark will finish second if they better Bulgaria's result, or win by eight or more goals. Armenia will finish as the group runner-up if they beat Italy and both Bulgaria and Denmark draw. It is worth taking note that teams chasing the play-offs in Group B have the lowest average points in comparison to the other potential second-placed sides from around Europe, and as a result, the lowest-ranked runner up is likely to come from this group.
Germany have already qualified from Group C, with Sweden already assured of a play-off place.
In Group D, the Netherlands have booked their ticket to Brazil, but three teams are hoping to secure a play-off place behind them. Turkey will finish second if they match Romania and Hungary's results and, in the event of a win, hope that Romania do not better their victory margin by five goals.
Romania will finish as group runners-up if they better Turkey's result and, in the event of a draw, Hungary do not beat Andorra by ten or more goals. Hungary will finish second if they beat Andorra and both Romania and Turkey lose.
Switzerland have already reached Brazil from Group E, and Iceland will finish behind them in second with a win against Norway. They will also finish as runners-up if Slovenia do not better their result in their game against Switzerland.
Russia need a point against Azerbaijan to secure a place in Brazil as Group F champions. Portugal must win to stand any chance of reaching the finals automatically, but to do so Russia must lose and Paulo Bento's side have to increase their goal difference sufficiently to overtake the Russians, with seven goals between the sides at present.
Remarkably, Portugal are not assured of a play-off place if they do finish second, due to the fact that three different sides can finish bottom, but it would take an extraordinary sequence of results for Cristiano Ronaldo and Co not to take a place in the play-offs if they finish as group runners up.
Group G is a straight battle between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece for first and second. Bosnia will win the group and qualify automatically if they win against Lithuania, with Greece realistically needing to better the Bosnian's result in their match against Liechtenstein due to the huge goal difference between the two sides.
England will reach Brazil with a win against Poland, and a draw will only be enough if Ukraine fail to overcome bottom side San Marino. Therefore, Mikhail Fomenko's side need to better England's result to qualify automatically. Both sides are guaranteed a play-off place if they finish second. Montenegro can mathematically finish second, but it would take a Ukraine defeat and a huge goal difference swing for that to happen, as the difference between Branko Brnovic's side and Ukraine currently stands at 12 goals.
Spain need one more point to guarantee their ticket to Brazil to defend their World Cup crown. If they lose against Georgia, France can only overtake them if they beat Finland by a sufficient margin to better Spain's goal difference in the final table - there are three goals between the sides at present. Both sides are guaranteed at least a play-off spot.
With USA and Costa Rica already eagerly anticipating December's Final Draw, one more automatic place is still up for grabs in North America's hexagonal group. Honduras will reach Brazil with a draw against Jamaica, and Mexico can only overtake them if Los Catrachos lose and Mexico increase their goal difference by enough to overtake them, with just two goals between the sides at the moment.
Mexico will secure the Intercontinental play-off place against New Zealand if they draw, and will reach the play-off with a defeat if Panama fail to win against USA. If El Tri lose to Costa Rica, Panama will overtake them with a victory against Jurgen Klinsmann's side.
Argentina and Colombia have already qualified, and two more automatic spots are up for grabs. Ecuador face Chile and a draw will be enough for both sides to reach Brazil. Uruguay can only reach Brazil directly if the Ecuador-Chile match does not end in a draw, and they increase their goal difference sufficiently to overtake the defeated team in the standings (they are four goals behind Chile and six goals behind Ecuador at present). Otherwise, La Celeste will face Jordan in the intercontinental play-off.
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