Greece vs. Romania: 2014 World Cup Playoff Dates, Fixtures and Preview

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 21, 2013

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 21: Gordon Savic, head of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, shows the name of Greece during the FIFA World Cup 2014 European Zone Play-Off Match Draw at the FIFA headquarter on October 21, 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Marc Eich/Getty Images)
Marc Eich/Getty Images

Greece will play Romania in next month's World Cup qualifying playoffs, with Monday's draw placing the two sides head-to-head for one space among the 32 teams in Brazil next summer.

It is, on paper, very much a tie for the purist, with the other three playoff games in UEFA's section all offering more in terms of star quality and narrative.

However, both sides have history when it comes to providing shocks at major tournaments—something they will hope to have the opportunity to repeat next year.

2014 World Cup Playoffs - UEFA
Fixture1st Leg2nd Leg
Portugal vs. Sweden15 November19 November
Ukraine vs. France15 November19 November
Greece vs. Romania15 November19 November
Iceland vs. Croatia15 November19 November

The first leg of the clash will take place in Athens on Friday Nov. 15 in a tie that the hosts will be desperate to use to build an advantage ahead of a difficult trip to Romania four days later.

The Greeks, though, were the unluckiest side of the Round Robin format, having finished level with Bosnia-Herzegovina on 25 points, only to miss out on a place at the World Cup on goal difference.

GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 22:  Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece appeals to team mate Kyriakos of Greece during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between Germany and Greece at The Municipal Stadium on June 22, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland.  (Photo by Alex Gr
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

That any side can lose just one of 10 games, drawing one other, and fail to qualify automatically must be considered incredibly unfortunate.

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Romania, meanwhile, had a much tougher group to overcome that included major tournament regulars Turkey.

Netherlands romped home in first place, as expected, but Victor Piturca's side held firm to see off challenges from both the Turks and Hungary to claim second place.

Remarkably though, they outscored the Greeks by some distance over the qualification campaign—finding the net 19 times in 10 fixtures to secure a playoff spot.

Somehow, despite playing Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Liechtenstein twice over the course of their campaign, Greece have managed just 12 goals in their 10 qualification games to date. It would be fair, then, to say that goals may not be in abundance next month.

Young winger Konstantinos Fortounis will be worth neutrals keeping an eye on as perhaps the only real rival to Sotiris Ninis in terms of pure talent in the Greece side.

Romania, meanwhile, will hope that striker Ciprian Marica can fire them to Brazil next summer.

It is likely, though, to be a tie in which defences will shine and, in Vlad Chiriches and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, there will be two excellent young defenders on show.

The tie will likely be overlooked by the wider media in favour of more headline-grabbing encounters, but for either of the two sides a place at the World Cup would be a tremendous achievement.