As it happenedended1508244674

World Cup play-off draw as it happened: Northern Ireland to play Switzerland, Republic of Ireland against Denmark

Relive the 2018 World Cup play-off draw from Zurich

Luke Brown
Tuesday 17 October 2017 13:51
Northern Ireland were one of the eight countries in the draw
Northern Ireland were one of the eight countries in the draw

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland discovered their World Cup play-off fate on Tuesday.

Michael O'Neill's team will play Switzerland, ranked 11th in the world who finished second in their qualification group behind Portugal.

Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland team will play Denmark.

More details below...

When is the draw?

The draw will be held in Zurich on Tuesday 17 October, with the ceremony getting underway at 13:00 BST [14:00 local].

What is the format?

The eight teams will be drawn into four pairs. The teams with the four highest Fifa rankings are seeded for the draw.

Who is in it?

  • Switzerland (seeded)
  • Italy (seeded)
  • Denmark (seeded)
  • Croatia (seeded)
  • Sweden
  • Northern Ireland
  • Greece
  • Republic of Ireland

When are the games?

The play-off first legs will be played between Thursday 9 and Saturday 11 November, with the second legs between Sunday 12 and Tuesday 14 November. Uefa will confirm home and away legs after the draw.

When is the World Cup draw?

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

When is the World Cup?

The 2018 World Cup in Russia will start on 14 June and finish with the final in Moscow 15 July.


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the European play-off draw to determine four of the final nine countries to qualify for next summer's World Cup finals in Russia!

The draw takes place at 1pm UK time, but stick with us in the meantime for build-up to the big event.

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 11:50

Not long to go...

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:03

Michael O'Neill said yesterday that he hopes Northern Ireland's series of surprises continue in the play-offs as the smallest nation in Tuesday's draw wait to find out who stands between them and the World Cup.

Having led the Northern Irish to the Euro 2016 knock-out stages, O'Neill's team are a two-legged tie away from making back-to-back major tournaments for the first time in the country's history.

They are unseeded for the draw in Zurich, along with Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and Greece, meaning that quartet will face either four-times winners Italy, Switzerland, Croatia or Denmark.

Having been pitted against Germany in each of their last two draws, O'Neill's team are due a more favourable outcome.

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

"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."

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:05

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:18

Who could Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland face for a place in Russia?

Due to the seeding system in place for this draw, we know that it's going to be either Switzerland, Italy, Croatia or Denmark. With half an hour to go until the draw, here's a closer look at each of the four nations.

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:32


Had won all nine of their World Cup qualifiers before running into Portugal in their final game, when the Euro 2016 champions' 2-0 victory saw them take Group B's top spot.

You can bet the unseeded teams are grateful the possibility of facing Cristiano Ronaldo and company has been taken off the table, and the Republic did beat the Swiss in a friendly in March last year.

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:34


The Azzurri are only in this section because they had the misfortune of drawing Spain in Group G.

The four-time World Cup winners were beaten by the Republic at Euro 2016, though it was an Italian team featuring eight changes as their qualification for the knock-out stages had already been confirmed. With Portugal out of the equation, they are the biggest name in this draw.

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:43


Were in danger of becoming the one runner-up that missed out on the play-offs before beating Ukraine in their final group game. Croatia had a tough group that also featured Iceland and Turkey.

They were impressive in winning 3-0 against the Northern Irish in Belfast last November, and they did so without the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic.

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:52


The Euro 1992 winners may be the team all the unseeded sides are hopeful of being drawn against, yet by the time they next play it will be over a year since they last tasted defeat, helping them to move up to 19th in the Fifa world rankings.

During that time they have beaten Poland 4-0 and drawn with world champions Germany. The Danes have only reached one World Cup finals since 2002.

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:54

Vithushan Ehantharajah17 October 2017 12:54

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