Current champs France qualify for Qatar 2022 while Portugal or Italy will miss the winter tournament.
By: Emmanuel Mendez
The European World Cup qualifiers have ended, and 10 European countries have qualified for Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup. Some countries include former world cup champions, and some have surprisingly won their respective groups, which left big countries out of the playoffs.
Those who end second place in their groups go through a playoff system to play a semifinal, and a final—twelve teams in the playoffs fight for only three spots for the World cup.
Group A involved Serbia, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan. The favorites were Portugal, but Serbia defeated Portugal in the last matchday to claim their spot in the next World Cup in a shocking twist of events.
Portugal finished second and will have to play in the playoff for a chance to qualify.
Group B was a no-shocker as Spain qualified for the World Cup, finishing first ahead of Sweden, Greece, Georgia, and Kosovo. Sweden will compete in the playoffs to try and qualify for the World Cup for the second time in a row.
The other surprising result was in Group C when Switzerland finished first and qualified straight to the World Cup ahead of Italy, the current European champions. Italy failed to beat Northern Ireland and Switzerland, in which both games ended in draws, and Switzerland defeated Bulgaria 4-0 in the last matchday to qualify.
The World Cup Champs, France, ended in no surprise as the French cruised through the group with no defeats and qualified to defend their title. Ukraine managed to finish second and have a chance to still qualify for a World Cup, which hasn’t been done since 2006.
Group E included Belgium, the top-ranked team according to FIFA. They also went to the World Cup while Wales finished second. The Czech Republic finished third, but due to their positions in the Nations League, they will also be fighting for a place at the World Cup with Wales.
Denmark impressed in Group F by qualifying comfortably by winning nine games out of ten. Scotland claimed second place and went through the playoffs.
The Netherlands finally returned to the World Cup after missing out back in 2018. It was a close group as Turkey and Norway were a few points behind the Dutch, and Turkey finished second, leaving Norway out and hoping to qualify for the World Cup.
Croatia, who reached the final in 2018, returns to the World Cup, finishing first ahead of Russia. They claimed their spot by defeating Russia 1-0 in the last matchday, making the Russians finish second.
The runners-up of the Euros 2020, England, qualified for the World Cup with ease. Poland finished second place who will look to qualify for the World Cup for the second time in a row.
The last group, group J, included Germany, who once again qualified for a new World Cup and looked improved after Hansi Flick’s appointment. North Macedonia finished second and will fight to be at a World Cup for the first time.
On November 26th, 2021, a draw made some matchups for the playoffs. Three different routes that include four teams will fight for one spot.
Path A includes Scotland vs. Ukraine and Wales vs. Austria. The winners of those two games will play each other in a playoff final, and the winner of the final qualifies for the World Cup.
Path B includes Russia vs. Poland and Sweden vs. the Czech Republic. Only one of these teams will qualify for the world cup. Three teams in these paths were in the last world cup in 2018: Russia, Poland, and Sweden.
Path C has everyone talking because it includes Italy vs. North Macedonia and Portugal, and Turkey. Only one team goes to the World Cup in this path, which means one of the two big-name countries, Italy, and Portugal will miss out on the 2022 World Cup.
The stakes are high, and each path will be intense as the playoffs begin on March 24th, 2022.