Europe’s automatic qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are set after group play ended today with the last four slots filled:
The 2010 automatics were: Denmark, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, England, Serbia, Italy.
Eight of the nine second-place teams will move on to two-leg playoffs Nov. 15 and 19:
Denmark was the weakest of the nine runners-up and did not advance.
The FIFA global rankings, which refresh Thursday, will determine the four seeds. FIFA will conduct the draw Monday in Zurich. The survivors of the four playoffs will advance to the World Cup.
If Iceland were to qualify, it would become the smallest nation by population (315,000) to reach the World Cup. The current record-holder is Trinidad & Tobago (1.2 million).
In 2010, the four playoff matchups were France over Ireland (ahem, Thierry Henry), Portugal over Bosnia, Greece over Ukraine and Slovenia over Russia.
Notable absences: Serbia, Denmark, Ireland, Slovenia, Czech Republic.
Most dominant automatic qualifiers:
Netherlands 9-0-1, 28 points, +29
Germany 9-0-1, 28 points, +26
Belgium 8-0-2, 26 points, +14
Bosnia 8-1-1, 25 points, +24
Of the seven World Cups staged in the Americas, a European team has never won the trophy. Czechoslavakia was second at Chile ’62, Italy second at Mexico ’70, Netherlands second at Argentina ’78, West Germany second at Mexico ’86, and Italy second at USA ’94.