All you need to know: Northern Ireland to face Switzerland and Republic drawn against Denmark in World Cup play-offs
Northern Ireland v Switzerland; Denmark v Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have discovered their World Cup play-off opponents.
Northern Ireland will take on Switzerland while the Republic have been drawn to face Denmark. In the other matches, Croatia face Greece and Sweden will play Italy.
Here's everything you need to know about the games:
Which legs are home and away and what are the dates?
Northern Ireland: NI will be at home in the first leg on Thursday November 9 and then away in Basel for the second leg on Sunday November 12.
Republic of Ireland: RoI will be away in Copenhagen in the first leg on Saturday November 11 and then at home in Dublin for the second leg Tuesday November 14.
(Croatia and Sweden are at home in the other two first leg matches).
When can I get tickets for the play-offs?
Northern Ireland: All the details are right here.
Republic of Ireland: Season ticket holders and members can buy tickets for the home leg in the presale on Wednesday (October 18) at 11am. General sale begins on Friday (October 20) at 11am. The FA Ireland's Away Ticketing System will open on Thursday (October 19).
What do we know about the opponents?
Northern Ireland v Switzerland: Had won all nine of their World Cup qualifiers before running into Portugal in their final game, when the Euro 2016 champions’ 2-0 victory saw them take Group B’s top spot. You can bet the unseeded teams are grateful the possibility of facing Cristiano Ronaldo and company has been taken off the table, and the Republic did beat the Swiss in a friendly in March last year.
Denmark v Republic of Ireland: The Euro 1992 winners may be the team all the unseeded sides are hopeful of being drawn against, yet by the time they next play it will be over a year since they last tasted defeat, helping them to move up to 19th in the Fifa world rankings. During that time they have beaten Poland 4-0 and drawn with world champions Germany. The Danes have only reached one World Cup finals since 2002. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen are both stand-out performers, with Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg another Premier League star in the squad, while former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner is also a danger.
What odds are the Emerald Isle teams to make it to Russia?
Northern Ireland: 23/10
Republic of Ireland: Evens
What are the head to head records?
Northern Ireland v Switzerland: The sides have met only four times and not competitively since 1964. There's been one draw, one Switzerland victory and two NI wins, including the most recent meeting in Belfast when Darren Patterson earned a 1-0 win. The last times the sides met brought a 0-0 draw in 2004.
Denmark v Republic of Ireland: The teams have met 13 times. Denmark have won only three of those, Ireland victorious on five occasions, including the two most recent clashes in 2002 and 2007. Robbie Keane and Shane Long both scored twice in a 4-0 win the last time the sides met.
What about away goals?
The results will be based on the aggregate score between the two legs. If that is level after the two matches, the team who has scored more away goals will go through. If still level, the second leg will go on to extra-time and the away goals rule will still apply in extra-time. If the teams are still level, the match will go on to penalties.
Belfast Telegraph Digital