World Cup 2022 play-off draw: Italy and Portugal handed brutal pathway

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo - IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The World Cup 2022 play-off draws have been confirmed and the likes of Italy and Portugal have been handed a major blow.

Both teams have been drawn in the same pathway which means that only one of them will be able to secure qualification for next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Italy had a disappointing qualifying campaign after winning the European Championships and Roberto Mancini will be desperate to guide his side to the World Cup after missing out last time.

The Italians have an exceptional squad at their disposal and it would be a travesty if the European champions fail to qualify. They have the depth and quality to win the tournament next year.

As for Portugal, this is probably the last time Cristiano Ronaldo is going to compete in the major international tournament and the 36-year-old will be devastated if his side failed to make it to Qatar next year.

Ronaldo will be hoping to sign off from international football on a high and it remains to be seen whether he can guide his country to the World Cup in the coming months.

The play-off draws will involve ten other nations namely Russia, Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Scotland, Wales, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia and Turkey.

The play-offs are set to take place in March 2022 during the international break with the semi-finals taking place on the 24th and the finals taking place on the 29th.

The full draw:

Path A

•             Semi-final 1: Scotland v Ukraine

•             Semi-final 2: Wales v Austria

Path B

•             Semi-final 3: Russia v Poland

•             Semi-final 4: Sweden v Czech Republic

Path C

•             Semi-final 5: Italy v North Macedonia

•             Semi-final 6: Portugal v Turkey