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      Anonymous
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      The Republic of Ireland have been drawn against Denmark in the play-offs for the 2018 World Cup while Northern Ireland will face Switzerland for a spot in the finals.

      Both nations avoided four-time winners Italy and will be hopeful of booking their place in Russia next summer.

      Martin O'Neill's Repbublic beat Wales last week to seal their spot as runners-up in Group D while Northern Ireland finished second to Germany in Group C.

      The two-legged ties will take place between 9 -14 November, with Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland at home in the opening leg, while the Republic of Ireland travel to Denmark.

      Switzerland were unlucky not to reach the finals as winners of Group B, ending the campaign with nine wins from their 10 qualifiers.

      They lost to Portugal in the final game of the group to finish behind the European champions and are the highest-ranked nation in the play-offs, sitting 11th in the rankings.

      Northern Ireland lost to Germany and Norway in their final two qualifiers but still finished four points clear of Czech Republic to seal their place in the play-offs.

      Michael O'Neill took them to the second round at Euro 2016 and they are 23rd in the latest FIFA rankings.

      The Republic of Ireland ended their Group D qualification campaign on 19 points, the same as their northern neighbours, as Serbia topped the group.

      A James McClean goal was enough for Martin O'Neill's side to win in Wales last week and secure the play-off berth at the expense of their hosts.

      Denmark missed out on the 2014 World Cup but finished second in Group E behind winners Poland as they look to book their fifth appearance at the finals.

      Croatia play Greece with Italy and Sweden drawn together in the most eye-catching of the play-off fixtures.

      FIFA World Cup play-off draw

      Northern Ireland v Switzerland
      Croatia v Greece
      Denmark v Republic of Ireland
      Sweden v Italy

      Ties will be played between 9 and 14 November, with the exact fixture list to be communicated shortly. The team listed first will play the first leg at home.

      Playoff details

      Italy beat Sweden 1-0 in the UEFA EURO 2016 group stage
      Four-time winners Italy are the only former world champions
      Republic of Ireland have been involved in seven play-offs (W3 L4)
      Northern Ireland have not reached a World Cup since 1986
      The draw featured the eight second-placed nations in the European qualifying groups with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their section. The seedings were based on the FIFA World Rankings for October 2017, which were published on Monday.
      Who’s already qualified?

      UEFA qualifiers: Belgium, England, France, Germany (holders), Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Russia (hosts), Serbia, Spain

      Non-UEFA qualifiers: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Uruguay, plus three African qualifiers to be confirmed in November.

      Intercontinental play-offs (two spots): Honduras v Australia, New Zealand v Peru

      What comes next?

      The FIFA World Cup finals draw will take place in Moscow on Friday 1 December. The tournament itself will be held in Russia between 14 June and 15 July next year.

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