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article imageEuropean play-off matches for World Cup 2014 announced

By Daryl Hammond     Oct 22, 2013 in Sports
Portugal will face Sweden for a place in next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
The two sides finished second in their respective qualifying group, and will face each other on 15th and 19th of November.
Portugal were expected to top their group. However they were force to settle for second as former England manager Fabio Capello guided Russia to their first World Cup finals appearance since 2002.
Sweden were unable to get the better of the seemingly unbeatable Germans, but were more than capable of seeing off the challenge of Austria and the Republic of Ireland.
The match is being billed as the battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as only one of these two stars will feature in Brazil in a year’s time.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren said:
“Sweden's matches with Portugal are arguably the most attractive of the quartet. World-class players like Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, they do something extra to change the game. I am pleased we have one, too. But we need our team to be really good."
France v Ukraine
Elsewhere, France will take on Ukraine in what promises to be an interesting encounter. Les Blues have been in good form lately, but were ultimately unable to dislodge World and European champions Spain from the top of Group.
Ukraine finished only a point below group H winners England. They are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run, and will undoubtedly be a tough test for France.
Greece v Romania
Greece were unlucky not to qualify automatically for the World Cup, as they finished level on points with Bosina & Herzegovina, but were unable to match their superior goal difference.
The Romanians knew they would never top the group, an accolade awarded to the unbeaten Netherlands. They were able, however, to finish ahead of Hungary and Turkey to land themselves a qualification spot.
Iceland v Croatia
Croatia were ranked as high as fourth in the FIFA World Rankings back in June. The Croats haven’t has the best of times since, with a 2-0 loss to Scotland in their final qualifying game prompting the sacking of coach Igor Stimac. Now ranked 18th, Croatia go into next month’s play-off games with new coach Niko Kovac in the hope of reaching the World Cup next year.
Iceland were the beneficiaries of a comparatively easier group than many other teams, with Switzerland proving the only team capable of besting them. Iceland are yet to qualify for a major tournament and are the lowest-ranked team in the qualifiers. But coach Lars Lagerback feels his team shouldn’t be underestimated:
"We have a pretty good team so, even if we're not the favourites, look out for Iceland."
Click here for a list of the countries the have already qualified for the Brazil World Cup 2014.
More about World Cup, World Cup 2014, Portugal, Sweden, Football
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