SPORTS

One of Italy and Portugal will miss the World Cup 2022 after being drawn together.

Italy or Cristiano Ronaldo will be absent from the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

The current and past European champions, Italy and Portugal, were put into the same qualifying playoff bracket on Friday, ensuring that at least one of them will miss out on next year’s championship.

Italy will play North Macedonia in a playoff semifinal at home next March, with the winner facing either Portugal or Turkey for a place in the World Cup.

After losing in the playoffs to Sweden, four-time champion Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, missing the tournament for the first time since 1958. It may now have to defeat Euro 2016 winner Portugal to avoid a second consecutive defeat after winning Euro 2020 in July.

“It’s not a wonderful draw,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said, “and it might have gone better.” “They would have wanted to avoid Italy just as much as we wanted to avoid Portugal.”

Since 2006, Ronaldo has guided Portugal to every World Cup, and this might be his final chance to win the sport’s most prestigious prize. Before the competition begins next year, he will be 37 years old.

Ronaldo scored a hat trick in a 3-2 victory against Sweden in the 2014 World Cup playoffs, which included an epic fight between superstars, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring twice for the Swedes.

“Italy isn’t worth worrying about, Fernando Santos, Portugal’s coach, stated. “It’s critical that we focus on defeating Turkey.”

Scotland will play Ukraine at home in the 12-team draw, with the victor facing Wales or Austria in the final of their bracket.

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For the opportunity to face Sweden or the Czech Republic in their bracket final, Russia will host Poland. The final will be held in either Russia or Poland.

Scotland is hoping to end a 24-year drought for a World Cup appearance, while Wales has only appeared once, in 1958.

“With the way the squad is playing right now, and the confidence the guys have gained, we’d be glad to face anyone, anywhere.” “Scotland coach Steve Clarke, whose side has won six games in a row since September, admitted as much.

Ukraine, on the other hand, defeated Sweden in the Euro 2020 round of 16 at Hampden Park in June and went undefeated through a World Cup qualifying group won by France.

Sweden will face the Czech Republic in the semifinals without Ibrahimovi. For receiving yellow cards in the qualification group, the 40-year-old attacker was given a one-game suspension.

“We accomplished it the previous time (in 2018), and we know we can do it again,” Janne Andersson, Sweden’s coach, said.

On March 24, the six playoff semifinals will be contested in a single-leg format. Five days later, the three finals are held.

The three victors will round up Europe’s 13-team presence in Qatar’s 32-team field. The tournament draw will take place in Doha on April 1st.

The ten countries who finished second in their qualifying groups, as well as two teams — Austria and the Czech Republic — who won Nations League groups last year, compete in the European playoffs.

In addition, FIFA announced that Qatar will host the intercontinental playoff in June, which will determine the tournament’s last two qualifiers.

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The intercontinental draw pitted an Asian team against a South American squad, and a club from the CONCACAF zone against Oceania’s representative.

Those qualification contests are currently ongoing.

The 32-team World Cup lineup will be completed by the victors of the two single-leg games on June 13-14.

The intercontinental playoff was initially planned as a two-leg, home-and-away series in March 2022. The games were postponed because to the COVID-19 epidemic, which caused the worldwide qualification campaign to stop.

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