With this format, the final group stage matches become very important to some teams, with multiple teams playing for whether they have to go through the playoffs to get qualification, get automatic qualification, or don’t get qualification at all.
This is the case in multiple groups, in group A, both Portugal and Serbia are on 17 points at the top of the group, eight points ahead of the other teams, they play each other in the final fixture of the group stage, with Serbia needing to win to gain automatic qualification as they have less goal difference than Portugal.
Another game deciding if a team gains automatic qualification or have to go through the playoffs is in group B, Spain are currently 1 point ahead of Sweden at the top of the group, with both playing each other in the final group game, Sweden need to beat Spain to gain automatic qualification.
This is also the same in group H, Russia are two points ahead of Croatia at the top of the group, with both teams playing each other in the final group game, it is crucial for Croatia to get a victory to gain automatic qualification rather than having to go through the playoffs.
The playoffs will include many potential interesting teams, this could include the likes of Spain and Portugal if they lose their final group games, Scotland will most likely be in the playoffs, their next game will be against Moldova who haven’t won a game in the group stage so far, making it very likely this is the path Scotland will take to try and gain World Cup qualification.