On Monday 9 October, a total of nine games in Groups D, G and I will be played. Here we* outline *which nations can secure an automatic berth for Russia 2018 on the qualification campaign's final matchday.
Who has already qualified from these three groups?
Only Spain have already booked their spot at the finals.
Who are out of the picture?
Austria, Georgia, Moldova, Albania, Israel, FYR Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Finland and Kosovo.
What's at stake?
The nine group winners qualify automatically for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. The best eight runners-up participate in a play-off, in which the final four World Cup spots from the European section will be decided by four two-legged ties played home and away.
*The best runners-up will be confirmed after all qualification games have been played.
Group leaders Serbia (18 points) will qualify automatically if they beat Georgia OR *if they draw *AND Wales (17) and the Republic of Ireland (16) share the points in their head-to-head. A defeat could also still be enough for Serbia, but only if they lose by one goal and Ireland and Wales ends in stalemate.
Wales and the Republic no longer have it in their own hands to qualify automatically and must instead rely on a slip-up by Serbia. Wales need just a draw to be guaranteed to finish second, whereas the Irish must win to reach the play-offs and keep their World Cup dream alive.
Spain (25) booked their place at Russia 2018 on Matchday 9, while four-time world champions Italy (20) have already sealed their spot in the play-offs.
Table-toppers Iceland (19) will qualify for the tournament outright if they beat Kosovo. A draw would also suffice, as would a defeat, but only if Croatia and Ukraine (both 17) take a point off each other in their head-to-head.
Croatia can finish top if they beat Ukraine and Iceland lose, but they will also be guaranteed second place if they draw. For Ukraine, on account of their inferior goal difference, nothing less than a win will do to keep their hopes of reaching the World Cup alive.
What are the tie-breakers? Article 20.6 of the Regulations outlines what should happen should two teams or more finish level on points in more detail. Who finishes above will be decided by comparing each of these criteria in order:
- Goal difference
- Goals scored
- Head-to-head points
- Head-to-head goal difference
- Head-to-head goals scored
- Head-to-head away goals
- Fair play points
- Drawing of lots