And with that nice little post I will leave you with our news story on the draw. And don't forget that we've got live minute-by-minute football tonight at the Guardian. Oh yes, it is Crystal Palace v Fulham!
Thanks for tuning in.
Marius Hentea emails from Romania:
Greece-Romania will rightly be the bore tie of the playoffs, but that's no problem for me as a Romanian. Any of the three other seeded times would have been lights out for us (or any of the other unseeded times, come to think of it). Last time we played Greece was in November 2011, in a friendly; we won 3-1. They still have Karagounis huffing and puffing, plus some national pride to play for -- but still, we couldn't have been luckier. We play the second leg at home -- so I'm predicting 1-1 in Athens, then we get a 2-0 or 3-0 in the second leg.
I, sadly, have no idea what Portugal's Paulo Bento is saying. He looks fairly happy though.
Iceland coach Lars Lagerbäck on drawing Croatia: "It is an interesting draw and I am looking forward to the tie, very much so. We are the underdogs on paper of course but I think we surprised a few people in our group and we hope to do that again."
Sweden manager Erik Hamren on Portugal: "It's a tough challenge but then any team would have been. Portugal have a very good team. I am optimistic. Portugal were close to reaching the final at Euro 2012. Very good on their day but we saw during qualifying that they have not so good days as well."
Seems like something I should have known about.... I've just come in late to this and I have what appears to be Niko Kovac talking to someone in German...
Great shout from Sean Brown, an old advert: Zlatan v Cristiano.
Interesting to think back to the penultimate group game when both Zlatan and Cristiano Ronaldo looked like being booked on purpose to be ready for the play-offs.
Kári Tulinius has been in touch again.
As an Icelander I expected the national team to come out of the draw with almost no chance to progress, but Croatia have been so all over the place that there is a smidgen of a chance that Iceland will get through. As I say that I recognize that now all over Croatia people are punching the air with joy at receiving such an easy draw.
I also want to hear from people whose countries are involved via email ir in the comments below. Good draw, bad draw?
Right, Fifa has ended its transmission so I think I will rely on Twitter to feed some quotes from the managers. They can't all have left already have they?
From a neutral point of view I think Iceland v Croatia will be a brilliant tie. I just hope that Iceland to well at home so that the tie is alive when they travel to Zagreb.
Interesting one. I know where I stand on this - but what do you think?
OK, let's have a think then. These are my early thoughts and predictions as we wait for the managers' reactions:
Portugal v Sweden - Por to win 3-1 on aggregate
Ukraine v France - Fra to win 2-0 on aggregateGreece v Romania - Greece to win 1-0 on aggregateIceland v Croatia - Croatia to win 2-2 and penalties
Wow. Too much to take in. Cristiano v Zlatan. Only one of them will go to the World Cup. My money is on Cristiano, what do you think?
To sum up then:
Portugal v Sweden
Ukraine v France
Greece v Romania
Iceland v Croatia
And it is Iceland v Croatia
Iceland at home first!
Otherwise they will be in trouble
Croatia v Iceland it must be then
Greece will play Romania
Next tie: Greece to start at home
An interesting tie, France favourites
Ukraine v France
Next tie: Ukraine to start at home
Portugal to play v Sweden
First out: Portugal
The draw begins!
Team drawn first will start at home!
There are three pots!!!!! Why?
He has just mentioned the play-off dates again!!!
He is 'emphasasing the high quality of the teams involved in the play-off'. Come on. Just get on with it!!!!!
Gordon Savic is up there too. This is good. Makes me feel calm. An experienced hand.
Alex Frei - the Swiss legend (or is that too strong) will help out with the draw. Good impartiality.
Wow. The big guns are coming onto the stage already! This is really about to happen.
There are some nervous people in France as well!
Ah, Fifa has found some goals by Greece. Well done. Someone in the office just said: 'The unseeded teams look stronger than the seeded ones." He has a point.
The coaches look very serious and nervous. I am not surprised. I am nervous
Ties to be played 15th and 19th November, but we knew that.
Oh, it has just started. Marvellous. What's everyone's predictions? The actual draw to start at 1.30pm?
Hmm. Two minutes until the draw is supposed to start and there is nothing but some terrible music and the text The European Play-Off Draw ...
WILL START SOON
Ha ha, I like this post from below the line
Does anyone know if a manager has ever gone into a crucial play-off without having been in charge of their country in a single game, such as Kovac for Croatia. I don't know what to make of Croatia at the moment. Would they be a good draw, a bad draw? France v Croatia has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Kári Tulinius emails with a very good point:
I agree that Blokhin is the greatest Ukrainian ever to play football (though Shevchenko was no slouch) but can he be considered the greatest ever Ukrainian player given that he never represented Ukraine, but the Soviet Union? Eusebio was born in Mozambique, but no one would never consider him not a Portuguese footballer. Similarly, isn't it more accurate to say that Blokhin was a Soviet player, even though the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore? At least when you're considering the greatest players ever to represent national squads.
OK, quite a few comments saying that Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be a bit better than Tomas Brolin. That may be true but look at this classic Tomas goal from the 1994 World Cup.
Let's look at some of the players I listed as each country's best - while I nip down below the line to see if I have received praise or scorn for my choices. Let's start with Zinedine Zidane, who I can watch all day.
Yellow balls! Now that is big news. What does that mean. And what does the word 'too' mean in that tweet below. Have I missed something then? What other balls are there?
Did anyone else think it was a little bit funny to see the French complaining about not being seeded for the play-off draw considering what happened a few years back when they came up against Ireland … oh han on, breaking news from Fifa …
So here are the teams again and their rankings. I have taken the liberty as well to pick each country's greatest ever player and down here are my selections. Do you agree. If not let me know and we can have a grown-up discussion about it.
Portugal 14 – Eusebio
Greece 15 - Theo Zagorakis
Croatia 18 - Zvonimir Boban
Ukraine 20 - Oleh Blokhin
France 21 - Zinadine Zidane
Sweden 25 - Tomas Brolin
Romania 29 - Gheorghe Hagi
Iceland 46 - Eidur Gudjohnsen
I will attempt to provide a fairly unbiased blog although I should probably point out that I am Swedish and may prefer Erik Hamrén's team to be drawn against Ukraine or Greece rather than Portugal but that will (well, should) not be reflected at all in my coverage. Having said that, Zlatan v Cristiano twice in a few days is not a bad prospect is it?
Hello and welcome to this World Cup play-off draw live blog where eight of Europe's finest teams (well, the ones who finished second in their groups...) will find out who will stand in their way and a summer in Brazil.
Europe's eight play-off hopefuls
- Seeded teams: Portugal (world ranking 14), Greece (15), Croatia (18), Ukraine (20)
- Unseeded teams : France (21), Sweden (25), Romania (29), Iceland (46)