During European World Cup Qualifiers, both Portugal and Italy failed to top their respective groups. As a result, each are to compete in the qualifying play-off in order to secure a spot in Qatar. Based on the format, Italy and Portugal are in a position in which one of the two will not be competing at the 2022 World Cup.
Italy failed to qualify four years ago. The Italians are the current European Champions. so it would be bad for their image and history to miss out on two consecutive tournaments. Portugal is coming off a disappointing run at the Euros. With Cristiano Ronaldo nearing the end of his international career, it would not look good for him or the team to miss out on this year’s World Cup.
How Did the Teams Get Into This Position?
Each team did poorly in their final two games of their World Cup qualifying groups. Italy could not beat Switzerland or Northern Ireland. Portugal drew against The Republic of Ireland and suffered a loss at home to Serbia. Quite frankly, they played themselves in this stressful position. Had they been able to win their respective matches and top their groups, both would be qualified right now.
On March 24, Italy will take on North Macedonia. The winner of that will take on the winner of the match between Portugal and Turkey. The winners of these will meet in a match that determines who goes to Qatar and who does not. In this case, while it’s a shot in the dark, it’s possible that both Italy and Portugal could miss out.
Who’s More Likely To Survive?
Italy seems to be heavily regarded as the one who will come out victorious. Aside from being the current European Champions, they have a loaded team. Portugal has talent as well, but Italy holds the advantage. In Portugal’s case, the team cannot rely on Ronaldo to carry them into the World Cup. They will need to find a way to pull off a miracle, and they will need to do it as a team. The Italians will not allow themselves to fail to qualify for a consecutive time.
Regardless of play thus far, whomever survives ought to go into the tournament as a potentially serious contender for the World title.
Follow Alex Al-Kazzaz on Twitter @BearManOfTX
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