Italy or Portugal now guaranteed to miss 2022 FIFA World Cup

Nov 26 2021, 6:24 pm

One of the world’s best soccer countries is guaranteed to miss the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next year.

We’ll likely see Italy or Portugal qualify for the World Cup, but not both, after today’s European playoff draw was announced.

The last chance for European countries to qualify, today’s draw put Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and North Macedonia into Path C. Only one country from each pathway can qualify, which does seem cruel for a pair of top 10 soccer nations.

Italy is currently ranked sixth in the world, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are eighth in the FIFA rankings. The Italians are the reigning European champions and last won the World Cup in 2006 but failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The news was more positive for countries drawn into the other two pathways. One of Scotland, Ukraine, Wales, and Austria will be heading to Qatar out of Path A. Path B will send Russia, Poland, Sweden, or the Czech Republic to the World Cup.

Ten countries from Europe have already qualified for the World Cup, including England, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Brazil and Argentina have already qualified from South America, while the host nation Qatar is making its World Cup debut.

Canada currently leads its group, which puts them in a good position to qualify for the World Cup for just the second time ever, and the first time since 1986. USA, Mexico, and Panama are hot on their heels, though.

The top three teams in the CONCACAF region will earn an automatic berth to the World Cup, while the fourth-place team can still make it through an intercontinental playoff.

Today’s draw ensured that the fourth place team from CONCACAF will play the winner of Oceania — likely New Zealand. That’s good news, should Canada finish in fourth place, as countries from Asia and South America have traditionally provided stiffer competition.

Due to the hot climate in Qatar, the FIFA World Cup will take place later than usual next year, beginning November 21 and wrapping up on December 18. It’ll be the last World Cup with only 32 teams, as the 2026 World Cup in North America will expand to 48 countries.

Rob WilliamsRob Williams

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