By Andrew Warshaw
November 26 – Almost unthinkable, next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar will be made conspicuous by the absence of four-time champions and defending European champions Italy or Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo’s house.
Both countries were ineligible automatically and had to pay the penalty after placing themselves in the same group when the draw for the European knockout round, which included singles rather than two legs, was made. on Friday.
Twelve teams will be reduced to three next March but Italy and Portugal can only fill one of those slots.
Both were at the top for the long haul of their qualifying campaigns but Italy was trailed in first place by Switzerland while Portugal suffered a late defeat to Serbia.
With three different playoff routes, Italy and Portugal are ultimately placed on the same semi-finals, meaning a win-lose showdown in Portugal should they overcome North Macedonia and Turkey respectively.
“It was a very difficult draw for us, and if we win [the semi-final] We will play a final in Turkey or Portugal,” said Italy coach Roberto Mancini.
Scotland and Wales, both bidding to join England in the final round, will clash in another playoff final if they overcome Ukraine and Austria, respectively. Wales, bidding to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 63 years, will have a home advantage in the Path A final.
Scotland and Wales were both seeded and subsequently avoided the semi-final against fellow seeds Italy and Portugal, past European Championship winners.
The draw featured all 10 group runners-up from the European qualifiers, plus Austria and the Czech Republic based on their Nations League performances.
The draw for the World Cup play-off round
- Semi-final 1:Scotland vs Ukraine
- Semi-final 2:Wales vs Austria
- Final:Wales or Austria vs Scotland or Ukraine
- Semi-final 1:Russia vs Poland
- Semi-final 2:Sweden vs Czech Republic
- Final:Russia or Poland vs Sweden or Czech Republic
- Semi-final 1:Italy vs North Macedonia
- Semi-final 2:Portugal vs Turkey
- Final:Portugal or Turkey vs Italy or North Macedonia
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http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2021/11/26/end-road-portugal-italy-track-winner-takes-qatar-2022-decider/ End of the road: Portugal and Italy on their way to victory – knock out all of Qatar 2022