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Soccer World Cup

World Cup Qualifying: The Battle for the Play-Off Spot in Group D

Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports

With the Netherlands all but a lock to win Group D of the European Qualifiers, it remains to be seen which team will go into the play-off round. There are three candidates separated by only one point for only one place available with two matches left to be played.

After the first eight games, Robin van Persie’s team have 20 points and can’t be caught as they already secured their place in Brazil next year. After them, however, Hungary sit at second place with 14 points followed by Turkey and Romania who have 13 points each.

Hungary (14 pts) will have a tough test against the Netherlands on Friday, but they will later host Andorra in a match they should be able to win comfortably.

Turkey (13 pts) will have the toughest schedule of the three teams. They will start with a game on Friday against Estonia to later close out their campaign hosting a Dutch side that, despite being qualified, are always a tough opponent.

Finally, Romania (13 pts) have the easiest schedule as they will go against Andorra away from home and will close out their qualifier hosting Estonia. The two fixtures look very winnable for Victor Piturca’s men, and they look like the early favorites to clinch the second place in the Group although they can’t take anything for granted to avoid a shocking result against them.

We will surely have a much clearer picture once the first three matches (Hungary against Netherlands, Turkey vs. Estonia and Romania visiting Andorra) are played on Friday.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google