- Italy and Portugal have been put on a collision course in the playoffs for a chance to qualify for the World Cup 2022
- The two nations have been drawn in the same path, meaning only one of them can proceed to Qatar
- The playoffs will happen in March 2022 during the international break
Italy and Portugal have been drawn in the same pathway in the playoffs for qualification for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, meaning only one of the two nations will be in next year’s tournament.
The playoff draw was announced on Friday, November 26, with Italy and Portugal, winners of the last two Euro editions, being put in a collision course.
In their semi-final matchups, Portugal will face off with Turkey, while Italy play North Macedonia for a chance to sneak into the final.
If the games go as expected, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will come up against Italy in the final.
The other play off path will see Scotland come up against Ukraine, and the winner will face either Wales or Austria.
Elsewhere, 40-year old Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be hoping to grace one final World Cup as Sweden take on Czech Republic, while Russia will have to overcome Poland in path B.
Here is the break-down of the paths and fixtures:
Path A matchup:
Scotland vs Ukraine
Wales vs Austria
Path B matchup
Russia vs Poland
Sweden vs Czech Republic
Path C match up
Italy vs North Macedonia
Portugal vs Turkey
How it will work
The remaining 12 teams will have to battle it out for the only three slots remaining in the play offs.
Teams in their respective paths will meet others in the same path in the final if they manage to overcome their opponents. For instance, if Scotland beats Ukraine and Wales beats Austria, Scotland and Wales will meet in the path A final for a place in the World Cup.
So far, a total of 10 countries from Europe have already qualified for the World Cup.
What went wrong for Portugal and Italy?
As the qualifiers wore on, Portugal and Italy were looking extremely good, but slip-ups along the way proved pivotal for both nations.
For Portugal, Fernando Santos’s team succumbed to a shock defeat to Serbia, when they only needed a draw to secure a ticket to Qatar.
For Italy, the Euro 2020 winners, they slipped up with a draw against Ireland to lose their ticket to Switzerland, who have had an impressive run themselves in the qualifiers.