Saturday October 7 2017
Italy await play-offs place

Italy are not yet guaranteed a spot in the 2018 World Cup play-offs, let alone the status of seeds in the draw, so could be paired with Portugal or Croatia.

The Azzurri were held to a 1-1 draw by Macedonia in Turin on Friday evening, as Spain crushed Albania 3-0 to lock down first place in their group.

Only the best eight runners-up make it into the play-offs, which will be played next month over two legs.

As things stand, Italy need a point against Albania on Monday to be sure, although if Bosnia fail to beat already-qualified Belgium today, then Giampiero Ventura’s men will automatically be in the top eight.

A bigger concern is where Italy stand in the FIFA ranking going into the draw on October 17 and that will be updated on October 16.

As the situation currently stands, Italy would be seeded with Portugal, Wales and Croatia.

The second seeds would be Northern Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Scotland.

However, there are still more games to be played and the situation is fluid.

In the most recent FIFA ranking for September, Italy had dropped five places to 17th, just above Croatia.

Curiously, Argentina are struggling to qualify for the World Cup, yet they are in fourth place, with Spain in 11th.

Spain have qualified for the 2018 World Cup along with Belgium, England, Germany and hosts Russia.

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