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Sweden get Italy in epic World Cup play-off encounter

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The match-ups to contest the final four European tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Russia have been decided, as the play-off ties featuring the group stage's eight best second-placed sides were confirmed in Zurich today.

Drawn by Spain legend Fernando Hierro at the Home of FIFA, the results mean Germany 2006 winners Italy will face Sweden, while Switzerland were paired with Northern Ireland, Croatia meet Greece and Denmark will take on Republic of Ireland.

The first and second legs will take place between 9 and 14 November, with the winners clinching one of the last remaining World Cup tickets and joining the nine representatives from the continent already set for the finals.

The following match details (all in local time) have been confirmed:

Croatia vs Greece on Thursday 9 November, 20:45 hours

Greece vs Croatia on Sunday 12 November, 21:45 hours

Northern Ireland vs Switzerland on Thursday 9 November, 19:45 hours

Switzerland vs Northern Ireland on Sunday 12 November, 18:00 hours

Sweden vs Italy on Friday 10 November, 20:45 hours

Italy vs Sweden on Monday 13 November, 20:45 hours

Denmark vs Republic of Ireland on Saturday 11 November, 20:45 hours

Republic of Ireland vs Denmark on Tuesday 14 November, 19:45 hours

Growing line-up

Qualifying as hosts, Russia have since been joined by France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium and Iceland, with 23 of the 32 nations now decided for next year’s festival of football.

On top of the four additional European places, the remaining five spots will be decided between 10-15 November, as three sides from Africa are yet to book their tickets, while the intercontinental play-offs will confirm the last two names in the hat for the Final Draw.

That will take place on 1 December in Moscow, where the eight groups will be decided, using pot allocations based on the October edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Pot 1, which is already confirmed, will feature Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France.

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