World Cup

World Cup qualification play-offs: European combined XI

Jack Gallagher
Lewa will be key for Poland
Lewa will be key for Poland / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
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It's make or break time for some of Europe's top nations.

Italy, Portugal, Poland, Austria, Scotland, Austria, Czech Republic, Ukraine, North Macedonia, Sweden and Turkey are all set to battle it out in the World Cup qualification play-offs to decide which three teams will head to Qatar in December.

So, what sort of talent can we expect to be watching in these games?

Here's the best of the best.

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Austria v Scotland - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Austria captain, David Alaba / Guenther Iby/GettyImages

Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK) - Italy - The 23-year-old's move to PSG hasn't exactly gone to plan, but those Euro 2020 performances proved just how good he is when it matters most for his national team.

Matty Cash (RB) - Poland - Yep, Matty Cash makes the cut because:
a) There's not too many other options.
b) He is actually pretty good.

Alessandro Bastoni (CB) - Italy - With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci likely both out injured, Bastoni will have to step up for Italy this week. Judging by the sheer amount of ability he has, we're going to guess that he will.

David Alaba (CB) - Austria - One of the most well-rounded players in world football. Honestly we could've put him up front in this team and it would've made sense.

Andy Robertson (LB) - Scotland - Arguably the best left-back in world football, Robertson is the leader of a Scotland team looking to make their first World Cup since 1998.

2. Midfielders

Marco Verratti
Verratti is the main man for Italy / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Nicolo Barella (CM) - Italy - The driving force in the Azzurri's midfield. Barella has had a fantastic season at club level, and will be looking to continue that form into the international arena this week.

Marco Verratti (CM) - Italy - The diminutive midfielder put in a bit of a horror performance vs. Monaco at the weekend, but we'll not hold it against him too much because he is bloody brilliant.

Bernardo Silva (CM) - Portugal - Back to his very best this season after an up-and-down 2020/21 campaign. Such a tidy player.

3. Forwards

Portugal v Serbia - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Ronaldo needs to perform / Zed Jameson/MB Media/GettyImages

Dejan Kulusevski (RW) - Sweden - The best signing of the January transfer window? Probably. Kulusevski has been fantastic since joining Tottenham, and will be key for Sweden in these play-offs.

Robert Lewandowski (ST) - Poland - Just the 31 league goals so far this season for Lewa. He's still the best striker around by a distance.

Cristiano Ronaldo (LW) - Portugal - Four goals in 12 appearances in 2022 isn't exactly good for CR7, but he's still a big game player and will be the man tasked with scoring the goals that take Portugal to the World Cup.

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