Italy, Portugal on a collision course in football World Cup playoffs


Either Italy or Portugal will miss out on a place in the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar as the two European football giants were set on a collision path in the playoffs, the draw for which was made on Friday. Italy and Portugal are drawn to meet in the final of the playoffs, with only the winner booking their ticket to the World Cup.

Italy, who had finished second in their pool in the main qualifiers, will open their campaign in the playoffs semi-finals against North Macedonia while Portugal will take on Turkey, the 2002 semi-finalists, in the other last-four match.

If Italy and Portugal win their respective semi-finals, they will clash in the final with the winner of that match booking their ticket to Qatar for the World Cup to be played from November 21-December 18, 2022.

The playoffs will take place from March 24 to 29, 2022. The draw involved 10 group runners-up joined by the two best group winners from the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly as group winners nor entered the play-offs already as group runners-up.

These 12 teams were on Friday drawn into three play-off paths for one-off semi-finals and a final. The three path winners qualify for the World Cup.

Path A has Scotland taking on Ukraine in one semis and Wales meeting Austria in the other.

Path B has Russia meeting Poland in one semis and Sweden taking on the Czech Republic in the other.

Path C has Italy and Portugal playing North Macedonia and Turkey in their path.

Though Italy has a comparatively weaker opponent in North Macedonia in the semi-finals, they will be at a disadvantage if they reach the final as they will have to play away from home.


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