The first round of UEFA World Cup Qualifying was completed by November 2021, with a total of 10 teams earning qualification for the Qatar World Cup 2022. Out of the 15 nations already qualified for the 2022 World Cup, there are 10 European nations, falling under UEFA’s qualifying section.
However, there are still three spots up for grabs and all to play for between 12 nations hungry to secure World Cup Qualification.
Ten secured, three spots up for grabs
Round one kicked us off with all 55 nations within UEFA battling for top spots in their own respective groups. The qualifiers started with a total of 10 groups. Out of these 10 groups, five contained five teams, with the other five groups containing six nations. Only the top nation in each group earned automatic World Cup qualification. The 10 nations ending up in second spot secured a place in the second round playoffs.
The resulting 10 nations were then joined by the top performing league nations that finished outside the top two in the group stages, Austria and Czech Republic.
With 12 nations remaining, these were seeded based on performance during the group stages and placed into three separate pots of four nations. Each pot will then play off in a semi final/final format, with one spot up for grabs in each pot!
No surprise early exits
Following Italy’s surprise exit from World Cup qualification in 2018, it was to be seen whether or not one of the big nations would follow suit for the 2022 Qualifiers. The Azzuri went unbeaten in this year’s group stages, but this wasn’t enough for Mancini’s side to finish ahead of Switzerland.
The Italians will be one of 12 sides entered into the play off phase to decide the final 3 spots, with the anticipation and hope of a nation starved of a World Cup since 2014, Mancini and his men have huge pressure on their shoulders.
None of the ‘big hitters’ have exited the World Cup at this early stage, but either Italy or Portugal will be this year’s surprise exclusion, both drawing each other in Pot C, with only one spot up for grabs.
Will it be world ranked 6th Italy to add to their 2018 woes or world ranked 7th Portugal?
How has Russia’s situation impacted the Qualifiers?
In the midst of their war in Ukraine, Russia have been faced with sanctions across the board including disqualification of their national teams. FIFA swiftly followed suit and decided to ban Russia from this year’s World Cup.
Russia were due to play Poland in the second round playoffs. The nations in the same pot as Russia had publicly spoken out about refusing to play Russia if they weren’t to be banned. Robert Lewandoski, Polish star striker and captain publicly defended their refusal, also refusing to take part if Poland had to line up against Russia.
With Russia now banned from the World Cup, Poland will receive a bye into the final of Pot B. Lewandowski and co. will face off with the winner of the tie between Sweden and Czech Republic, to decide one of the final 3 spots available.
Early outrights available at Maverick
Within the top 10 ranked sides under FIFA, eight are from Europe and playing under UEFA. There’s a good chance that the eventual World Cup winner will come from Europe, so it’s well worth looking back at the qualifying to see which nations have been dominating their respective groups.
Is there a nation catching your eye ahead of the 2022 World Cup? Or perhaps you think Italy or Portugal will make it through the qualifying and want to grab them early outright prices!
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