European hopefuls await pathway to Qatar

25 Nov 2021
  • Draw for UEFA zone play-offs for Qatar 2022 on 26 November

  • Twelve countries vying for three World Cup tickets

  • Victors to join ten group winners in representing Europe

Ten European teams have already booked their places at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, leaving just three more berths available for the Old Continent.

For the UEFA teams still in contention, the road to Qatar will be revealed at the European play-off draw on Friday 26 November 2021 at 17:00 CET in Zurich, Switzerland. The event will be broadcast live on FIFA.com.

Draw procedure

The European play-offs will be contested by 12 teams, comprising the ten group runners-up from the first phase of qualification for Qatar 2022, as well as the two best-ranked UEFA Nations League group winners that finished outside the top two of their group in the aforementioned qualifiers.

The teams will then be split into three four-team paths, with semi-finals and a final following in each, and the three winning sides qualifying for the 22nd World Cup.

The teams

AUSTRIA

  • World Cup appearances: 7 (1934, 1954, 1958, 1978, 1982, 1990, 1998)

  • Best World Cup result: Third place (1954)

  • Did you know? Austria's last participation in the European play-offs was in 2002, when they lost to Turkey, who would go on to finish third at the finals.

CZECH REPUBLIC

  • World Cup appearances: 9 (1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1970, 1982, 1990, 2006)

  • Best World Cup result: Finalist (1934, 1962) as Czechoslovakia

  • Did you know? Czech Republic last appeared at the World Cup in 2006, booking their place with a 2-0 aggregate play-off win over Norway.

ITALY

  • World Cup appearances: 18 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)

  • Best World Cup result: World Champions (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)

  • Did you know? In total, Italy have graced the World Cup 18 times, including 14 appearances in a row. That sequence was ended by Sweden in the play-offs for Russia 2018.

NORTH MACEDONIA

  • World Cup participations: Yet to qualify

  • Best World Cup result: Yet to qualify

  • Did you know? The highlight thus far of North Macedonia’s bid to reach Qatar 2022 was undoubtedly their shock away win against Germany in March 2021, when Elif Elmas stunned the four-time world champions with his late winner.

POLAND

  • World Cup appearances: 8 (1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2018)

  • Best World Cup result: Third place (1974, 1982)

  • Did you know? Although the Poles failed to take their group’s automatic qualifying berth for Qatar 2022, the team, which boasts The Best FIFA Men’s Player Robert Lewandowski, achieved their best goalscoring ratio in a World Cup qualifying campaign, with 30 goals in ten games.

PORTUGAL

  • World Cup appearances: 7 (1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018)

  • Best World Cup result: Third place (1966)

  • Did you know? Portugal are no stranger to the play-offs, having navigated them to reach the 2010 and 2014 World Cups at the expense of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sweden respectively.

RUSSIA

  • World Cup participations: 11 (1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990 (as USSR); 1994, 2002, 2014, 2018)

  • Best World Cup result: Fourth place (1966) as USSR

  • Did you know? Russia have lost just one home game in their World Cup qualifying history – a 1-0 reverse to Germany in October 2009.

SCOTLAND

  • World Cup appearances: 8 (1954, 1958, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998)

  • Best World Cup result: Group stage

  • Did you know? The Scots finished their group campaign with an impressive six straight wins, including a 2-0 triumph over section winners Denmark in their final fixture. The Danes had won all nine of their previous group games.

SWEDEN

  • World Cup appearances: 12 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2006, 2018)

  • Best World Cup result: Finalist (1958)

  • Did you know? Sweden find themselves in the play-offs for the third World Cup in a row. Back in 2013, the Scandinavians lost out to Portugal, while four years later they prevailed against four-time world champions Italy.

WALES

  • World Cup appearances: 1 (1958)

  • Best World Cup result: Quarter-finals

  • Did you know? Wales have lost only two of their last 20 World Cup qualifiers and went unbeaten in the final seven games of their qualifying group.

TURKEY

  • World Cup appearances: 2 (1954, 2002)

  • Best World Cup result: Third place (2002)

  • Did you know? Turkey have not been to a World Cup since taking bronze at Korea/Japan 2002. In 2006, the Turks lost out at the play-off stage to Switzerland.

UKRAINE

  • World Cup appearances: 1 (2006)

  • Best World Cup result: Quarter-finals

  • Did you know? Although this will be Ukraine’s fifth appearance in the World Cup play-offs after those of 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014, they are still searching for their first qualification via this route.

Oleg Gusev of Ukraine celebrates scoring the winning penalty kick in a penalty shootout as a dejected Pascal Zuberbuehler of Switzerland looks on at the end of the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Round of 16 match between Switzerland and Ukraine played at the Stadium Cologne on June 26, 2006 in Cologne, Germany.

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

Ukraine at Germany 2006

15 Apr 2013

Drama guaranteed

The UEFA zone play-offs, which this year will have a new format instead of the traditional two-legged affair, have always provided plenty of emotion.

Who could forget Predrag Mijatovic's seven goals over two legs in Serbia’s 12-1 aggregate win over Hungary to qualify for France 98, or the case of Germany and Turkey, who both needed the play-offs to reach Korea/Japan 2002, where they upset the odds by finishing runners-up and third respectively?

In the play-offs ahead of the 2014 edition in Brazil, France memorably overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ukraine, while Cristiano Ronaldo secured Portugal’s passage to the same tournament at the expense of Sweden after an unforgettable duel with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Four years later, Sweden were the ones celebrating after denying Italy World Cup qualification for the first time since 1958.

No one rode their luck last time out more than Croatia, however. After prevailing against Greece to grab one of the last tickets to Russia, the Vatreni then went all the way to the Final in Moscow.

What made Russia so 2018?

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™

What made Russia so 2018?

16 Sept 2018

Already qualified for Qatar 2022

Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Serbia and Spain