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How the battle for World Cup qualifying is looking

We assess what the UK teams and Ireland need to do to book a place on the plane to Russia.

FOOTBALL 06/09/17 14:10
How the battle for World Cup qualifying is looking

Qualification for next summer’s World Cup remains a realistic prospect for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

Topping a qualification group guarantees a place at the tournament in Russia while the second-placed countries will have a chance to make it through the play-offs.

With the group stages set to be completed early next month, we look at what the UK teams and Ireland need to do to book a place on the plane.

England (Group F)

Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions lead their group and are almost assured of a spot at what will be their sixth successive World Cup. Following Monday’s 2-1 victory over second-placed Slovakia, they need just two more points to make mathematically sure of qualification. Slovenia, who can still reach the play-offs, visit Wembley on October 5 before England make the trip to Vilnius to face eliminated Lithuania three days later.

Scotland (Group F)

Although they have an extremely slim chance of stealing top spot from England, Scotland’s most likely route to a first finals since France ’98 is the play-offs. They are six points behind the group leaders with two matches remaining but their play-off destiny remains in their own hands as they still have to play Slovakia and Slovenia. Gordon Strachan’s side and Slovenia are currently on 14 points, with the Slovakians a point better off.

Northern Ireland (Group C)

It looks like being the play-offs for Northern Ireland following a memorable qualifying campaign. They are assured a top-two finish in Group C following back-to-back victories against San Marino and Czech Republic but could still catch world champions Germany. Joachim Low’s side, who are five points ahead with two qualifiers remaining, are due in Belfast on October 5 before Northern Ireland complete their campaign in Norway.

Republic of Ireland (Group D)

Tuesday evening’s defeat to group leaders Serbia has thrown a spanner in the works for Ireland. The result in Dublin all-but ended hopes of automatic qualification, with Martin O’Neill’s men now five points behind the Serbians. They also face a battle to secure second spot after Wales jumped a point ahead with two group games to play. Ireland are expected to win in Moldova on October 6, with a crunch match in Cardiff three days later likely to decide their fate.

Wales (Group D)

A first World Cup since 1958 remains a strong possibility for Wales but they may have to do it through the play-offs. They are unbeaten in qualifying, although five draws from eight games has left them in second place – four points behind group leaders Serbia – with two matches remaining. Third-placed Ireland, a point behind, are Wales’ rivals for second, with the two countries set to clash in Cardiff on October 9. Chris Coleman’s team also play eliminated Georgia on October 6.

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Cristiano Ronaldo claims FIFA men’s player of the year award

Cristiano Ronaldo claims FIFA men’s player of the year award

Cristiano Ronaldo claims FIFA men’s player of the year award

Cristiano Ronaldo claims FIFA men’s player of the year award

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The Real Madrid forward also won the award in 2016.

The Real Madrid forward also won the award in 2016.

The Real Madrid forward also won the award in 2016.

The Real Madrid forward also won the award in 2016.

The Real Madrid forward also won the award in 2016.

The Real Madrid forward also won the award in 2016.

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