One of Italy or Portugal will miss World Cup after qualifying draw

Emerson of Italy reacts during the World Cup 2022 group C qualifying soccer match between Northern Ireland and Italy at Windsor Park stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Peter Morrison/AP)

ZURICH -- European champion Italy and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal were drawn in the same World Cup qualifying playoffs bracket Friday, meaning at least one of them will miss next year's tournament in Qatar.

Italy will face North Macedonia at home in a playoff semifinal next March, and the winner will play away at either Portugal or Turkey for a spot in the World Cup.

Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup -- losing in the playoffs to Sweden -- and now will likely have to beat Ronaldo and Portugal to avoid missing the tournament for a second straight time. Portugal has always qualified during Ronaldo's career. He first played at the 2006 World Cup.

Also in the 12-team draw, Scotland will face Ukraine at home, and the winner will play at Wales or Austria in the final of their bracket.

Russia will host Poland for the right to face Sweden or the Czech Republic in their bracket final. Russia or Poland will host the final.

The six playoff semifinals will be played as single-leg elimination games March 24. The three finals are played five days later.

The three winners will complete Europe's entry of 13 nations in the 32-team lineup in Qatar.

FIFA will make the tournament draw on April 1 in Doha.

The playoffs feature the 10 teams who finished second in their qualifying groups along with two teams -- Austria and the Czechs -- who won Nations League groups last year.

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.
close