Soon we will know the participants of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
29 of the 32 participants in the upcoming World Cup are known, a draw for the finals in Qatar has already been held, and the names of the three remaining lucky ones will be known in the next couple of weeks. In the playoffs of European qualification will be determined by the last team from UEFA, also waiting for the results of the two intercontinental joints, one of the participants will be determined in the Asian duel. So, three places, eight national teams and some important matches.
Path A of the European playoffs
In November 2021, 10 European teams, which finished first in their respective qualifying groups, would receive direct tickets to Qatar. The 10 second-place teams, as well as the two winners of the League of Nations (actually, their “alternates”) went to the playoffs to determine the three remaining lucky winners.
On time and without interference from outside factors, only Path “C” had determined the winner: Portugal took turns against Turkey and Northern Macedonia, who sensationally knocked out the Italians in the semifinals. The Russian national team was eliminated, so the Poles on Track “B” only had to beat the Swedes in the final, who had left a lot of strength in the victorious semi-final against the Czech Republic.
Finally, on the “A” Way in March, there was only one match: the Welsh team thanks to a double of Gareth Bale beat Austria (2-1) and reached the final. But the game involving the Ukraine national team was postponed until June. Welsh players will be determined today, and on June 5, the winner of the match Scotland – Ukraine will play in Cardiff against the “Dragons,” who will have an early summer test match against Poland.
So, Wales is one win away from the 2022 World Cup, while Scotland and Ukraine are two wins away. The Welsh look the favorites on this route as they prepare purposefully for the playoff final, while the winner of tonight’s clash at Hampden Park will travel to Cardiff three days after, quite possibly, an exhausting semifinal.
Gareth Bale won the Champions League for the fifth time, announced his retirement from Real Madrid, and may fulfill another childhood dream of making it to the World Cup finals in the coming days. However, the Scots Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) and Scott McTominay (Man United), the Ukrainians Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City) and Andriy Lunin (Real Madrid) are probably against it. Players of European top clubs will fight for the right to play in the 2022 World Cup.
Intercontinental tie CONCACAF (North America) vs. OFC (Oceania)
It was initially planned that the Inter-Continental tiebreaks would be played according to the tried-and-true pattern of previous qualifying cycles, with teams playing one away and one home game each. However, the decision was changed, and now the fate of a ticket to the championship will be decided by a single match on neutral ground – in Qatar, which will host the World Cup in 2022.
In one of the intercontinental ties, the winner of the Confederation of Oceania Football (New Zealand) qualifying tournament will play against the team that finished fourth in the decisive round of North American qualification under CONCACAF (New Zealand). Chris Wood, who left Burnley for Newcastle in the winter, will be looking to take on Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who played his 100th game for Costa Rica earlier this year.
The advantage in this pairing is given to the Costa Ricans, who play in a more competitive environment, while the New Zealanders crush the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea. The places in Oceania are beautiful, but not football-friendly. Costa Rica has looked decent in the CONCACAF qualifying: Los Ticos lost the third place and a direct ticket to the World Cup 2022 to the USA only on additional indicators. They will try to get their way at the end of the match with New Zealand.
Intercontinental tie AFC (Asia) vs CONMEBOL (South America)
The second leg of the intercontinental clash will see the fifth-ranked CONMEBOL team and the winner of the fourth round of Asian qualifying, which includes Australia and the UAE, who failed to qualify directly for the 2022 World Cup in the third round. Australia finish below Saudi Arabia and Japan in their group, while the UAE are drawn below Iran and South Korea.
A head-to-head game between Australia and the UAE will also be played in Qatar, with the winner advancing to Peru six days later. The United Arab Emirates have only been to the World Cup finals once, in 1990, when they suffered three group stage defeats by a combined total of 2-11, but the Australians are World Cup regulars, having played in four previous World Cups.
Australia is the favorite, although their last faceoff was against the UAE, 1-0, in the 2019 Asian Cup quarterfinals. Either way, the most likely poster for the intercontinental clash is Australia vs. Peru. We’ve seen that somewhere before, haven’t we? A hint: at the World Cup in Russia. It was a group-stage game in Sochi, and the Peruvians won 2-0, though neither team made the playoffs.