There will be one of two teams, or both Portugal and Italy teams, that cannot attend the 2022 World Cup finals, according to the European draw on the evening of November 26.
The draw from former midfielder Tiago Mendes puts Portugal and Italy in the third bracket in the play-off round, meaning that one of the two teams, or both of these teams, cannot attend the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Portugal and Italy share the third bracket with Turkey and North Macedonia, choosing only one team to attend the 2022 World Cup. In the first leg, Portugal played the away team Turkey, and Italy took on North Macedonia on 24/24. March 2022. The winning team between these two matches will fight for a place in the World Cup five days later, while the losing team will be eliminated. In the event that Portugal and Italy both win, they will have to eliminate each other in a life and death match for the World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates will have the advantage of playing at home against Italy in that case.
The first branch includes Scotland, Ukraine, Wales and Austria. Scotland will host Ukraine, and Austria will host Wales on the field. The winner of the match between Wales and Austria will have the home advantage in the decisive match against Ukraine or Scotland. In particular, Ukraine has been eliminated in all four previous times to kick around.
In the second bracket, Russia meets Poland, and Sweden meets the Czech away team. The winner of the match between Poland and Russia will play at home against Sweden or the Czech Republic. In this branch, two top strikers Robert Lewandowski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic can also face off, if Poland and Sweden both win in the first leg.
The branching ceremony took place at 11pm on November 26 in Zurich, Switzerland, with three guests including former players Tiago Mendes, Lothar Matthaus and Christian Karembeu. Mendes drew the seed pool and placed his team in the same draw as Italy. Matthaus picked the non-seeded group, putting Turkey against Portugal in the first round. And Karembeu draws at home and away in the second leg, with home advantage for the winning team in the pair of Portugal and Turkey.
The 12 teams are divided into three groups, each with four knockout teams. In each draw, four teams will play one-legged knockout in March 2022, selecting one team to qualify for the World Cup.
Due to being in the same seed group, Italy and Portugal certainly do not meet in the first pick. But, they had a 20% chance of falling into the same branch, and Mendes’ draw made this 20% come true.
Portugal has participated in the World Cup seven times, including the last five. And Italy has only stopped twice in qualifying, in 1958 and 2018. Coincidentally, Portugal and Italy also won the last two Euros. But they had to kick back to attend the 2022 World Cup because they only finished second in the first qualifying group.