Tuesday. Zurich. Fernando HIERRO determines the fate of Croatia. Photo: Reuters
Yesterday in Zurich was held the draw for the play-offs European qualifiers for the 2018 world Cup. The battle will have serious.
The eight teams that took second places in their groups, were divided into “seeded” and “asiany” according to the latest FIFA rankings. Thus between them could not meet the national teams of Switzerland (11th place in ranking), Italy (15th), Croatia (18th) and Denmark (19th). Accordingly, the status of “asiany” got the Northern Ireland (23rd), Sweden (25th) Ireland (26th) and Greece (47th).
Recall that all groups was nine, and the worst of the teams that became the second, lost the chance for a spot in the final tournament in advance. The “black mark” went to Slovakia…
Drew four opponents. Balkan confrontation between the Croats and the Greeks certainly will be accompanied by a tense atmosphere not only in the stands, but in the other cities, which will host these matches. Clear favorites here is “checkers”, a lack of international stars – Perisic, Modric, Rakitic, Mandzukic. The Greeks such figures can not boast, but the winners of Euro-2004 has many times surprised at the limitations.
Northern Ireland is objectively inferior to the Swiss, but strong in spirit green-white army at least will give a desperate fight. By the way, the same applies to the Irish, not North, as usual. Denmark, perhaps, be called the favorite in the class. But the “guys in green” – the nature.
Finally, Sweden And Italy. Undoubtedly, this is the most interesting couple. Primarily for the reason that the “Squadra Azzurra” seriously risks not to get to the world Cup for the first time since 1958. … Which took place in Sweden. However, the last time the Italians landed in joints 20 years ago. 29 October 1997 in the mud at the Moscow stadium “Dynamo” for the Italian national team debuted a 19-year-old Buffon, who replaced received the injury Paluku. Then he became the youngest goalkeeper of the national team since the Second world war. Will it have Gianluigi close the circle and to conclude an international career of 40 years in the same country where it began?
In Italy, the result of the draw met with caution. The team of Giampiero Ventura shows recently quite a modest level (for example, played recently in a draw with Macedonia). Sweden, even without a finished performances for the national team Ibrahimovic is a formidable opponent.
Since 1924, the Italians met with the Swedes 22% (+10=6-6). The last meeting was held in the framework of the Euro -2016, when the “Squadra Azzurra” has won 1:0. But in the Apennines, is remembered more now not about face-to-face fights, but the match Denmark – Sweden in Euro -2004. I knew in advance that a 2:2 will suit both Scandinavian teams, but the Italians will leave behind the tournament. Need I remind you how the outcome of that meeting?..
Philip PAPENKOV, Sport-Express
NORTHERN IRELAND – SWITZERLAND 9 and 12 November
CROATIA – GREECE 9 and 12 November
SWEDEN – ITALY on 10 and 13 November
DENMARK – IRELAND on 11 and 14 November
HONDURAS – AUSTRALIA 10 and 15 November
NEW ZEALAND – PERU 11 and 15 November