European champion Italy and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will miss the 2022 World Cup after being placed in the same bracket of the European qualifying draw.
Italy will host North Macedonia in the semi-finals on March 24 and the winners will be in Portugal or Turkey on March 29 in the game that will decide who goes to Qatar next year.
Friday’s draw also offered the possibility of an all-British duel for a place in Qatar as Scotland host Ukraine and Wales take on Austria in their squad. The decision maker will be in Cardiff or Vienna.
In Lane B, Russia will face Poland while Sweden will face the Czech Republic, meaning there could be a potential showdown between big hitters Robert Lewandowski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Russia or Poland will have the advantage at home.
But it is route C, with Italy and Portugal four times victorious, which is the most attractive.
Italy missed a spot at Russia 2018, but has since rebounded under coach Robert Mancini to replace Portugal as European champions.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has vowed that Portugal will advance to the finals, which will be held from November 21 to December 18 next year, after his side canceled the automatic qualification in their last group game.
The supporters of France, the world n Â° 1 of Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina have so far qualified to join hosts Qatar. The draw for the final is expected to take place in April.
Lane A – Scotland or Ukraine v Wales or Austria
Lane B – Russia or Poland vs. Sweden or Czech Republic
Lane C – Italy or North Macedonia vs Portugal or Turkey
Associated Australian Press