FIFA said, thirteen nations will represent Europe at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Denmark and Germany are confirmed among them and will be joined by the remaining eight group winners. The ten runners up will enter the 12-team European playoffs. The remaining two spots in these will be taken by the best two 2020/21 UEFA Nations League group winners who did not finish in their section’s top two in the Qatar 2022 preliminaries. France and Spain, therefore, are guaranteed a playoff place if they do not finish first or second in their respective groups.

The progress of the various teams so far;

Italy and Belgium have already been assured of top-two finished in Groups C and E respectively. If France and Spain achieve the same, Wales, Austria and Czech Republic will all reach the playoffs (either Wales or Czech Republic will finish runners-up in Group E and the other will qualify via the above ranking.

Mario Coluna, Jose Augusto, Antonio Simoes and Eusebio formed a fearsome side, so too did Rui Costa, Luis Figo and Joao Pinto, but it’s hard to argue against Portugal now having their best-ever team. They won UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League, and call on the likes of Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix and Cristiano Ronaldo. And though Fernando Santos’s troops have dropped just two points, in a 2-2 draw in Belgrade, this section will be settled, regardless of the outcome of their contest away to Republic of Ireland, by a showdown with Serbia in Lisbon. Dragan Stojkovic has at his disposal Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and, in Dusan Vlahovic, one of the hottest prospects and most on-song players on the continent.

Spain are already assured of a spot in the European playoffs, but they will be desperate to avoid those stormy waters by clinching top spot. The heavily-rotated Roja are, however, sitting uncomfortably in second. Victor Lindelof, Emil Forsberg, Alexander Isak and Sweden are top, and in terms of morale-boosts heading into the final two rounds, it doesn’t get much better than the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If the Swedes and Spaniards win in Batumi and Athens respectively, it will come down to a Seville showdown in which a point would do for the visitors. Greece, meanwhile, must beat Spain and hope for a favour from Sweden to reach the playoffs.

Italy’s ride has been euphoric since the national nadir of missing a first World Cup since Sweden 1958. They conquered a first UEFA EURO crown in 53 years in July and went on to set a world-record undefeated streak of 37 games. Yet Gianluigi Donnarumma, Marco Verratti and Co are in danger of having to go through the dreaded playoffs. If Yann Sommer, Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel Embolo and Co can snatch Switzerland a first win over Gli Azzurri since 1993, the pool’s ticket to Qatar will be theirs to lose.

France will, barring a seismic collapse, slide through in first, but who will reach the playoffs? Lukas Hradecky and Teemu Pukki believe Finland’s assignment in Zenica is a must-win one ahead of the visit of the reigning world champions. Miralem Pjanic, Edin Dzeko and Bosnia and Herzegovina will then go up against Oleksandr Zinchenko, Andriy Yarmolenko, Roman Yaremchuk and Ukraine in what could answer the aforementioned question.

Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku know that, realistically, 2022 will be Belgium’s golden generation’s last chance to lift the World Cup trophy, and they effectively need just a point at home to Estonia to get to Qatar. The scrap to make the playoffs is delicately poised and could come down to goal difference. Will Tomas Soucek, Patrik Schick and Czech Republic be celebrating, or will Aaron Ramsey, Daniel James and Gareth Bale edge Wales closer to a first World Cup since 1958.

Denmark stormed through to Qatar 2022 with a perfect record, and second place is firmly in Scotland’s hands. Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Co would make sure of it themselves with victory in Chisinau, though the Scots drew their only previous game there in a Germany 2006 qualifier. Eran Zahavi and Israel know they realistically must seize six points to have any hope, while Austria are in with a very good chance of making the playoffs as one of the best-ranked UEFA Nations League winners.
Memphis Depay and the Netherlands have been in imperious form since a 4-2 loss in Turkey in their opener, but they still need to navigate two examining tests to end fears of missing back-to-back World Cups. Norway suffered an incalculable blow with the news that Erling Haaland will miss their last two outings, which will have boosted optimism among Hakan Calhanoglu, Burak Yilmaz and Turkey of stealing into the playoffs at the very least.
It’s Russia against Croatia down the home straight, with the winners going to Qatar and the losers going into November’s playoff draw. Captivatingly, they will collide in a section climax in Zagreb on Sunday. The sides’ last two contests have been draws: 2-2 in a thrilling Russia 2018 quarter-final the Croatians ultimately won on penalties, and 0-0 earlier in these qualifiers. Aleksandr Golovin and Aleksei Miranchuk are glistening talents Valeri Karpin is delighted to call upon, while Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic will look to do the business for Zlatko Dalic’s reigning World Cup silver medallists.
The overwhelming expectation is that England and Poland will finish first and second, but football is, as they say, a funny old game. Albania have improved significantly in recent years and boast two heading-turning youngsters in Roma defender Marash Kumbulla and Chelsea-owned forward Armando Broja.
Four teams are engaged in a fascinating fight for one playoff berth. Iceland must win both their games, hope Armenia-North Macedonia ends all square, and that Romania fail to beat Liechtenstein to have a shot. With Germany up last, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Armenia will go all out to beat North Macedonia, whose standouts include former Leeds United man Ezgjan Alioski, Napoli midfielder Elif Elmas, 21-year-old Schalke winger Darko Churlinov and, in Levante playmaker Enis Bardhi, one of the finest free-kick takers on the planet. Romania are the favourites. Can Vlad Chiriches and Ianis Hagi edge them closer to a first World Cup since 1998?