2022 FIFA World Cup playoffs: Italy and Portugal drawn on same path, one will miss Qatar

Today the draw took place for the UEFA World Cup playoffs to determine what three teams will make the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The semifinals will take place on March 24th, 2022 with the finals taking place on March 29th, 2022. And the paths couldn’t be more brutal as each match is a one shot knockout.

Path A

Semifinal 1: Scotland vs.

UkraineSemifinal 2: Wales vs Austria

Looking at Path A, anyone could advance and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Ukraine didn’t have as good of a showing as they would have hoped for during Euros but responded by going undefeated in their remaining World Cup qualifiers to finish ahead of Finland. Scotland is turning into a tough team to play as they’ve only been defeated by Denmark in qualifiers since the Euros. This includes a victory over fellow path mates Austria too. Wales faced the least impressive competition of the group to get here but they can’t be counted out on their day as long as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are healthy.

Path B

Semifinal 3: Russia vs. Poland

Semifinal 4: Sweden vs. Czech Republic

Path B is another roll of the dice. Joint Euros top scorer Patrik Schick leads the line for the Czech Republic in a match versus a Sweden side that is turning into a force. Sweden will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic for this one due to suspension but with Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak, there will be plenty of firepower. Poland will lean on Robert Lewandowski as there’s few players in the world who you’d take over him in a one off match. Russia is the weakest team in the path but that doesn’t mean that they can be ruled out at all.

Path C

Semifinal 5: Italy vs. North Macedonia

Semifinal 6: Portugal vs. Turkey

This is where things get interesting. Unfortunately for North Macedonia and Turkey, they’re grouped with the two teams entering these knockouts as favorites and they’ll need to pull off massive upsets to get to the final. Italy is going from a European Championship to a chance of not making their second World Cup in a row while Portugal continues a year of disappointment that could be capped off with a World Cup that doesn’t include Cristiano Ronaldo.

Intercontinental playoffs

The matchups for the interregional playoffs were also decided. Concacaf’s fourth place team will be pitted against the Oceania winner while the fifth place side from CONMEBOL will square off against the fifth place finisher from Asia.