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Potential UEFA Play-Off Pots – World Cup Qualifying

Ahead of the final matchday in UEFA qualifying, we published an article about the possibility of teams reaching the UEFA 2nd place play-offs. But once those teams are determined, they will be placed into two pots based on the October FIFA Ranking. We’ll take a look at the potential of each team by group, should they reach the 2nd Place Play-Offs.

We will list the minimum and maximum amount of FIFA ranking points each Group could possibly send into the play-offs. An important thing to remember is that the FIFA ranking points here have no bearing on who advances to the play-offs. Once the 8 advancing teams are determined, they will then use these points to break the teams into two pots of 4, where they will be drawn in home-and-away pairings for a place in the World Cup.


Group A

Croatia has clinched 2nd place in Group A and will may advance to the 2nd place play-offs. They will have somewhere between 901 and 1004 points, depending on their result against Scotland.

Minimum points from Croatia: 901
Maximum points from Croatia: 1004


Group B

2nd place is up for grabs in Group B, but only 3 teams can advance to the 2nd place play-offs, as Czech Republic would be eliminated should they finish 2nd. Bulgaria can max out at 613 points should they find themselves through, while Armenia can reach 785 and Denmark can get up to 824. Should any of these 3 make it through, they’d be in Pot 2. Since none of the teams can advance to the play-offs without a win, the three point totals listed are the best a team in here could do.

Minimum points from advancing team: 613
Maximum points from advancing team: 824


Group C

Sweden has clinched 2nd place in Group C and also will be in the 2nd place play-offs. They will have somewhere between 850 and 973 points, depending on their result against Germany.

Minimum points from Sweden: 850
Maximum points from Sweden: 973


Group D

Nothing has been settled yet in Group D, as Romania, Turkey, and Hungary are all still alive. Should any of these teams win, the 2nd place team would advance to the play-offs, but Group D is not guaranteed a place yet. It is even feasible that all 3 could lose and still place a team in the play-offs. Getting an idea of the maximum and minimum from this group is a little tricky.

Romania can reach as high as 767. Turkey can reach as high as 800. Hungary can reach as high as 636. Conceivably (but unlikely), Turkey could advance with a loss and 670 points. Romania could also theoretically advance with a loss, and they’d have 683 points. Hungary needs to win, so they’ll have 636 should they advance no matter what. Regardless, if a Group D team advances, they’ll be in Pot 2.

Minimum points from advancing team: 636
Maximum points from advancing team: 800


Group E

This Group also has much to be determined still, including whether a team advances from Group E to the play-offs and who that would be. It is down to Iceland and Slovenia, with Iceland first in the pecking order. Should they win or even end up in 2nd place at all, they’ll be in the play-offs.

Iceland can advance with a win, loss or draw, so they could have as many as 723 or as few as 589, which would place them in Pot 2. Slovenia must at least draw to get through, so they’d finish with 798 with a draw or 891 with a win.

Minimum points from advancing team: 589
Maximum points from advancing team: 891


Group F

Things finally start to get a little clearer here, and there is a very strong team that is going to probably advance to Pot 1 of the play-offs. There is a remote chance that Portugal could miss the play-offs if they finish 2nd, but they play Luxembourg so that is unrealistic. In the completely ridiculous scenario where Portugal loses at home to Luxembourg, they’d still have 986 points and can get as high as 1036, locking up a spot in Pot 1 should they advance. Russia could only finish 2nd should they lose at Azerbaijan, and they’d take 849 points into the play-offs guaranteed.

Minimum points from advancing team: 849
Maximum points from advancing team: 1036


Group G

We know as of today that the Group G 2nd place team, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Greece, will be in the play-offs. While not mathematically impossible, we’re going to go ahead and throw out the scenario where both teams win and Greece somehow makes up over 18 goals in goal differential. If Bosnia wins, they’re through to Brazil. If they somehow draw they’d have 876 points, while they’d have 852 points with a loss.

If Greece finishes 2nd, they could do so with a win, loss, or draw at home against Liechtenstein. They can max out at 983 points or have as few as 941. Greece is probably in pretty good shape.

Minimum points from advancing team: 852
Maximum points from advancing team: 983


Group H

There are still three teams in play for 2nd place in Group H, but considering Ukraine gets the gift of San Marino, Montenegro is cooked. Just as in Group G, we’re going to throw out an utterly ridiculous scenario in which Ukraine loses to San Marino. That might be more unlikely than Greece scoring 18 goals.

Given that we’ve already given Ukraine the 3 points against San Marino, which we’re willing to do, they’ll have 871 points. Should England fail to defeat Poland at home, they’ll have 995 points with a loss and 1024 with a draw. England will be in the play-offs should they finish 2nd and Ukraine will as well with a point or better against San Marino. England would also be in Pot 1 should they finish 2nd.

Minimum points from advancing team: 871
Maximum points from advancing team: 1024


Group I

It’s down to Spain and France in Group I, and we already know the 2nd place team will be in the Play-offs. Spain obviously would be in Pot 1 should they somehow lose to Georgia. They’d have an amazing 1465 points. France’s place isn’t as certain. They could finish with as low as 772 points with a loss to Finland, or as many as 870 with a win. They probably shouldn’t have played that meaningless friendly against Australia as they’ll still finish below Ukraine by a single point with a win.

Minimum points from advancing team: 772
Maximum points from advancing team: 1465


A Chart

After looking at each of the groups, here is how things stand in total. YOU CAN CLICK ANY OF THE COLUMN HEADINGS TO SORT THE TABLE BELOW:

Group Team Max Min
A Croatia 1004 901
B TBD 824 613
C Sweden 973 850
D TBD 800 636
E TBD 891 589
F TBD 1036 849
G TBD 983 852
H TBD 1024 871
I TBD 1465 772


What is Known

Actually, not much. Nobody is locked into Pot 1 yet, but a few Groups are locked into Pot 2 should they advance. The 2nd place team in both Groups B and D will be in Pot 2 should they advance.


What is Probable

Our simulator helps here. It is very likely that:

  • Armenia does not beat Italy, and therefore clinches a spot in the play-offs for Croatia, Group F, and Group H
  • At least one of Romania or Hungary win, clinching a spot in the play-offs for the Group D 2nd place team in Pot 2.
  • Portugal defeats Luxembourg, finishes 2nd in Group F, and clinches a spot in Pot 1.
  • Greece finishes 2nd in Group G, with a minimum of 941 points and clinches a spot in Pot 1.
  • Ukraine defeats San Marino and finishes 2nd in Group H with 871 points.
  • France finishes 2nd in Group I, with a minimum of 772 points and a maximum of 870, and heads to Pot 2.
  • As a result of the above, Croatia reaches Pot 1


A Revised Chart

After taking our highly likely scenarios into account above, we feel that Pot 1 will include Portugal, Greece, Croatia and 1 other team. Pot 2 will include France, the 2nd place team from Group D, and two others:

Group Team Max Min Pot
A Croatia 1004 901 1
B TBD 824 613 2 or Out
C Sweden 973 850
D TBD 800 636 2
E TBD 891 589
F Portugal 1036 1036 1
G Greece 983 941 1
H Ukraine 871 871
I France 870 772 2


Who is Left?

Sweden: With a win or draw at home against Germany, they’ll be in Pot 1. Otherwise, they should be in Pot 2.

Ukraine: This is another straightforward case, given that we’ll go ahead and say they defeat San Marino. They need the following to happen to reach Pot 1: Sweden loses to Germany and Slovenia doesn’t advance from Group E with a win at Switzerland. This isn’t out of the realm of possibility at all. Definitely a team to keep an eye on.

Group E Winner: As stated above, Iceland cannot reach Pot 2. Slovenia actually could still reach Pot 1 if they win, finish 2nd, and Sweden loses. It’s unlikely but possible.


Our Predictions

We think that the Group B 2nd place team is the one which will be left out. Our predictions for the two Pots look like this:

Pot 1 Pot 2
Portugal Sweden
Croatia France
Greece Romania
Ukraine Iceland


We hope you enjoyed reading and are very much looking forward to the final matchday. Follow us on Twitter @We_Global for updates throughout the games and more.

UEFA Correspondent,


Here are our 2nd place Scenarios

Group Previews:

Group A Preview (Belgium, Croatia, Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Scotland, Wales)
Group B Preview (Italy, Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Armenia, Malta)
Group C Preview (Germany, Sweden, Austria, Republic of Ireland, Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands)
Group D Preview (Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Estonia, Andorra)
Group E Preview (Switzerland, Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania, Cyprus)
Group F Preview (Russia, Portugal, Israel, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg)
Group G Preview (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein)
Group H Preview (England, Ukraine, Montenegro, Poland, Moldova, San Marino)
Group I Preview (Spain, France, Finland, Georgia, Belarus)

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