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2022 World Cup play-off draw: Italy, Portugal tremble


Forced to go through roadblocks to go to Qatar, the last two European champions expect to hold their breath before the ti

The tension is growing.

The smiles of victories are now giving way to very contorted faces.

Thrills guaranteed in Zurich this afternoon (5 p.m.), where Fifa will draw lots for the European dams, scheduled for the end of March, for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Italy and Portugal, the last two European champions, tremble and hold their breath as they could see Ibrahimovic's Sweden stand in their way - if the former PSG player is on the adventure - or the Lewandowski's Poland.

For Europe, ten nations have already won their tickets - including the Blues of Didier Deschamps - but three tickets remain to be filled among the twelve late selections who have failed to finish at the top of their qualifying group.

And Italy and Portugal are part of it, which promises unusually high oppositions for this catch-up session.

To see Qatar (from November 21 to December 18, 2022), the play-offs will have to win in the spring (March 24 and 29) one of three mini-tournaments with four played in dry matches, with semi-finals then final, a perilous format that forbids the slightest defeat.

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The tension has risen a notch, even among the reigning European champions, the Italians, who since their coronation in July have been overcome by the fear of not qualifying for the World Cup, as in 2018. "Unconsciously, something has stuck," admitted defender Leonardo Bonucci.

Second in her group behind Switzerland, the "Nazionale" recalls today the trauma of four years ago, when Sweden had blocked her way to the World Cup in Russia during the play-offs, then played under another format, in round-trip duels.

Like Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal trembles before the draw, his morale being weighed down by the controversy around coach Fernando Santos.

The Portuguese press designated him as the main responsible for the defeat against Serbia (2-1), on the last day, synonymous with play-offs for the winners of Euro 2016.

But Portugal has the experience of these meetings on a thread, having qualified in 2010 and 2014 by this way.

The two cadors have the assurance of playing their semi-final at home, thanks to their team status in the first hat.

A second draw will determine the host team for each of the three “finals”.

In this context, the Nazionale and the Seleçao can meet in the final ... or fall on another ambitious selection, such as Sweden, which should be able to count on the return of its talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic (40 years).

“Ibra” is one of the big scarecrows in this draw, as is Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, star of Bayern Munich and scorer of eight goals in the qualifiers.

It remains to be seen how the twelve teams will be distributed in the three “lanes” of the dams giving access to Qatar: Poland appearing in the second hat, like Austria, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Turkey and the modest Macedonia of the North, he is a potential opponent from the half for Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Wales, Russia or Sweden, all seeds.

Once the European balls are out of the hat, Fifa will proceed to another draw, that of the intercontinental dams in June which will issue the last two tickets for Qatar.

Source: leparis

All sports articles on 2021-11-26

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