After a hard fought group stage in Europe’s World Cup Qualifiers we finally know who goes to Russia directly as the first place of their respective group and who goes to the second round or playoffs. The eight countries that will fight for a chance to play in Russia next summer are: Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The draw to determine the matches is still a few days, but what we can be sure about is that we’ll see great football matches is some of Europe’s best venues. There are three UEFA Four Star stadiums that could host a playoff game, we are talking about: Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece, Aviva Stadium in Ireland, and Friends Arena in Sweden. Let’s see what makes these stadiums so special.
This venue is located in Piraeus, Greece, and is home to local powerhouse Olympiacos. The stadium is named after Georgios Karaiskakis, a general who died in the Greek War of Independence.This same venue was part of the 1896 Olympic Games as a velodrome. But none of that original structure remains today, because in 2014it was demolished and rebuilt. It has a capacity of 33,334 seated fans and has its own shopping mall with bars, restaurants, stores, gymnasiums, and a museum dedicated to Olympiacos and its history.
This Irish stadium is one of the best in the world and it is located in Dublin. It was inaugurated in 2010 and replaced Lansdowne Road. This venue has a 51,700 capacity and it already put its UEFA Elite status to good use,it hosted the UEFA Europa League final in 2011. It is very easy for the fans to get to the stadium because it is built right next to the Lansdowne Road train station. Football and rugby share this building, but before it was inaugurated, the Irish football team played its home games provisionally in Croke Park. The first football game played in Aviva Stadium saw Manchester United defeat an Irish League All-Star team, with a 7-1 final score.
Friends Arena is a stadium with a retractile roof located in Stockholm’s metropolitan area, in Sweden. The teams that call this venue home are AIK Stockholm and the Swedish national football team, they made the move from Rasunda Stadium in 2013. This modern building was inaugurated in 2012 with a football game between Sweden and England. The legendary striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a great night, he scored his team’s four goals in their 4-2 victory. Have a look here to see the best odds for the respective playoff games. Friends Arena is the largest stadium in Sweden, with a capacity of 50,000 seated fans.