Halfway Through, Greece’s Russia 2018 Prospects Examined
While it may seem premature with regards to Greece figuring out their chances for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the truth is that the qualification process for Russia 2018 has already reached the halfway stage.
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Thus, AGONAsport.com has taken a look at where things stand currently for Greece with regard to the situation in Group H as well as the playoff picture.
In Group H, qualification is set to be fought amongst three teams, leaders Belgium followed by Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Belgians lead the group after five matches with 13 points, Greece two behind on 11 and Bosnia a point further back on 10. First place and automatic qualification to the World Cup is still up for grabs for any of the top three, however Belgium remain the heavy favorites.
2nd place and the all-important playoff berth that comes with it looks destined to be fought out between Greece and Bosnia. Their upcoming qualifier next week in Bosnia could be decisive. A Bosnian win could put them in the driver’s seat, while a draw would see Michael Skibbe’s men hold onto their slender advantage. A Greek victory would see Greece move into full control of second place with four games remaining. Both sides still have a match to play against Belgium at home.
Should Greece finish in second place then a two-legged playoff against another second place side would determine their fate as far as World Cup qualification. Out of the 9 European World Cup Qualifying groups, eight 2nd placed teams go through to the playoffs with the 9th-ranked 2nd-placed team being eliminated from contention.
At the moment, Greece occupy 3rd spot in the table of 2nd-placed teams. If qualifying ended today, then Greece would be drawn against one of the following teams: Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Slovakia. Currently, Montenegro would be the worst 2nd-placed side and would miss out on the playoffs.
Obviously, with an entire half of qualifying left remaining there could be teams in this table that fall out in favor of others. The draw for the playoffs will be held in October of this year and could feature seeded and unseeded teams as it did for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The playoffs would take place between November 9th-14th.
Four years ago, Greece did qualify for the World Cup through the playoffs as they were a seeded team who were drawn against Romania and emerged victorious over the two legs.
Five crucial matches remain for Greece. The situation could become clearer after the Bosnia match, however Group H seems like it could end up going to the final day. For Greek supporters still smarting from the terrible EURO 2016 Qualifying campaign, that’s not an entirely unwelcome prospect.