Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal must overcome Turkey and then either Italy or North Macedonia to secure a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Europe’s play-off draw was made on Friday.
The nature of the draw means that it is impossible for Portugal and Italy, who have won the last two European Championships between them, to both now qualify for the World Cup.
This is the second stage of the European section of the qualifying process, with 10 countries from the original group stage already assured of their place at next year’s finals.
The 10 group winners, including England, France, Germany and Belgium, automatically booked their ticket to Qatar. The 10 group runners-up, plus the two best countries from the last UEFA Nations League campaign who failed to finish in the top two, get another chance for the last three places.
The process has been split into three mini-tournaments – paths A, B and C – with the winner of each securing one of those last coveted European places at the World Cup.
No frills, no complications...a one-legged semi-final and one-legged final is all that stands between three of these 12 countries and a trip to Qatar next winter.
All six semi-finals are to be played on 24 March 2022, with each final to follow on 29 March.
2022 World Cup play-off draw - Europe
Scotland vs Ukraine - 24 March 2022
Wales vs Austria - 24 March 2022
Final - Wales/Austria vs Scotland/Ukraine - 29 March 2022
Path A winner qualifies for the 2022 World Cup
Russia vs Poland - 24 March 2022
Sweden vs Czech Republic - 24 March 2022
Final - Russia/Poland vs Sweden/Czech Republic - 29 March 2022
Path B winner qualifies for the 2022 World Cup
Italy vs North Macedonia- 24 March 2022
Portugal vs Turkey - 24 March 2022
Final - Portugal/Turkey vs Italy/North Macedonia - 29 March 2022
Path C winner qualifies for the 2022 World Cup