Euro quartet joust for single ticket to world stage

  • Four teams eyeing the last European ticket to France 2019

  • Play-off semi-finals to be played over two legs

  • Belgium face Switzerland, while the Netherlands take on Denmark

Thirty-five teams entered the group stage of European zone qualifying, vying for one of the continent's eight coveted places at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™. The group winners have now filled seven of those berths, leaving four nations hoping to grab the last available ticket to next year's world finals. The play-offs will be contested by the best group runners-up: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The games

Belgium-Switzerland, Leuven, 5 October, 20:30 CET Switzerland-Belgium, Biel, 9 October, 19:00 CET

Ives Serneels' Belgium team are looking to follow in Scotland's footsteps by making their Women's World Cup debut next year. In order to make that dream come true, the Red Flames will need to succeed in their first-ever appearance in the play-offs, where they will face Switzerland, who made their own bow on the global stage at the 2015 edition in Canada.

The teams drew 2-2 in their last meeting at last year's Cyprus Cup. For Switzerland coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, the play-offs represent her last games in charge of the side before taking over her native Germany. Nils Nielsen, who steered Denmark to the final of the 2017 UEFA Women's EURO, will succeed her in the Switzerland hot-seat on 1 December.

Fans can look forward to an evenly balanced, attacking encounter given that just five places separate the teams in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking, with Switzerland in 18th and Belgium 23rd. Both teams enjoy getting forward after scoring 21 and 28 goals respectively during group stage qualifying.

Netherlands-Denmark, Breda, 5 October, 20:00 CET Denmark-Netherlands, Viborg, 9 October, 18:00 CET

The Netherlands had to wait until Canada 2015 before finally gracing the global showpiece for the first time. The Oranje Leeuwinnen did so by getting the better of Italy in the play-off final in November 2014. Now reigning European champions, the Netherlands are once again forced to take the play-off route. This time, they are confronted with a familiar foe in Denmark, who they recently beat at the 2018 Algarve Cup and also overcame in last year's UEFA EURO final on home soil with a 4-2 victory.

The Danes, by contrast, have already appeared at four Women's World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals in 1991 and 1995, where they lost to Germany and Norway, respectively. Denmark missed out on the 2003 and 2011 editions after defeats in the play-offs, but secured direct qualification to the 2007 finals. Lars Sondergaard's side are now looking to get the better of the Dutch and end their 12-year absence from the competition.

The words

"After the 3-0 defeat to Sweden [a match which was forfeited] at the start of the year, we knew it would be difficult to qualify automatically. But suddenly, we had the chance, we only needed to win the return leg. We've always known that it would be tough and these play-offs are tough." Denmark coach Lars Sondergaard

"Belgium were great at the European Championship and have developed a lot. Nevertheless, it'll be an open game in what is fundamentally a good situation for us. It's difficult to say if it's an advantage or disadvantage to start with an away game. We just have to take things as they are." Switzerland coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

The winners of this month's play-off semi-finals will contest the final play-off over two legs to determine the eighth and final European qualifier for France 2019. Matches take place from 5-13 November.