How Greece can qualify for the 2018 World Cup
Greece fell 4-1 to Croatia in their first of two legs in the World Cup qualifying playoffs and will need a historic comeback on Sunday to qualify for next summer’s event in Russia. AGONAsport.com breaks down the scenarios.
For the average football fan, the two legged playoff system is straightforward as to what is needed to win on aggregate over two games. However, the unfamiliarity of “winning on aggregate” and “advancing on away goals” might not be a familiar concept for all.
With Greece suffering a three goal defeat, 4-1, in Croatia, the Ethniki must defeat Croatia by at least three goals in the return leg to have any hope of qualifying for the World Cup. A loss, draw, or win by two goals or less on Sunday will result in elimination for our national team. However, if Greece manage to miraculously win by four goals or more, then the Ethniki will qualify for the World Cup.
Things get tricky if Greece win by three goals in the second leg, meaning the two teams will be tied on aggregate and the tie-breaker will be decided by greater number of away goals scored.
If Greece defeat Croatia 3-0 in Piraeus, Greece will go to the World Cup on away goals (1 Greek away goal compared to Croatia’s zero away goals).
If the match ends in a 4-1 win for Greece (the same score as the first leg), the match will go to extra time (were away goals are still taken into account) and into penalties if no one scores.
If Greece win by three goals, but Croatia score two or more goals (5-2, 6-3), then Croatia will advance on away goals and qualify for the World Cup. In other words, if Croatia score two goals in Greece, then the Ethniki will need to win the match by four goals, meaning an unthinkable minimum six goals.
Although the above scenarios seem highly unlikely, mathematically speaking, hope remains.