UEFA World Cup Qualifying 2014 Draw: Date, Start Time and Best Possible Matchups
Having failed to do so at the first bit of the cherry, UEFA’s best eight group runners-up will find out their chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Monday, October 21.
Including World Cup nations of pedigree both big and small, the route to Rio is still a long one for those yet to seal their place.
With that being the case, the eight teams and poised and ready to unveil their next opponent, with some fixtures promising better outcomes than others.
Whether it’s because of who fans will want to see in Brazil or simply because it would make for a better two-legged affair right now, read on to find information on the draw as well as just which fixtures would be best for all concerned.
Date: Monday, October 21
Venue: FIFA Headquarters, Zurich, Switzerland
Time: 2 p.m. CEST/1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET
Seeded: Portugal (world ranking 14), Greece (15), Croatia (18), Ukraine (20).
Unseeded: France (21), Sweden (25), Romania (29), Iceland (46).
Best Possible Matchups
Portugal vs. Iceland
Possibly putting the record currently held by Trinidad and Tobago to shame, this week will see Iceland strive once more to become the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup.
The Scandinavians may pose a bigger challenge than some suppose considering Lars Lagerback’s side are unbeaten in their last four qualifiers, but the road may end prematurely yet again for the international minnows.
Who would come out on top of this encounter?
Ajax’s Kolbeinn Sigthorsson has been a beacon in attack for the side of late and would need to do so again if his team were to come against perpetual underachievers Portugal.
Having served his suspension for the final group match against Luxembourg, Cristiano Ronaldo will be back for the playoffs, and we might as well admit that the World Cup would be a sorrier sight without one of the best players on the planet.
No matter how much one loves an underdog story, it would be hard to see past a Portuguese victory should this fixture come to pass.
That being said, the match would be a win-win for the neutral.
Ukraine vs. France
Ukraine already proved in their group matches with the likes of England, Montenegro and Poland that they can be a stubborn figure on their day, especially when playing away from home.
Counting games played outside Ukraine, Mykhaylo Fomenko’s team have amassed an aggregate score of 16-2 in their favour across their qualifying campaign, albeit with eight of those goals coming in a drubbing of San Marino.
France were unfortunate to be drawn in Group I against Spain and will have something to prove ahead of Rio, but a trip to the colds of the Donbass Arena would certainly make things interesting.
Greece vs. Sweden
A revival of the Euro 2008 Group D encounter that unsurprisingly saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic headline as one of the difference makers.
Sweden were unfortunate to be drawn against a team of Germany’s quality in the group stage but were impressive enough to hit a magnificent seven goals against Die Mannschaft in their two qualification meetings.
With that kind of firepower, it’s a sad thought to imagine a World Cup without Ibrahimovic’s talents on display, but Greece showed they still have the potential to upset at Euro 2012 and may do so again this winter.
Croatia vs. Romania
Somewhat of a booby prize in the context, Croatia would be favourites to return to the World Cup after missing out on South Africa 2010 were they to come up against Romania.
Nevertheless, Victor Piturca’s men would still be hopeful of completing their qualification journey after feeding off the scraps they were fed in Group D.
The Romanians’ weaknesses were evidently exposed in their two defeats at the hands of Louis van Gaal’s Holland, and the chances of making their first World Cup since 1998 look slim.
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