That’s right! The 2022 World Cup finals are getting closer and with spots in this year’s tournament in Qatar up for grabs, teams are gonna’ have to bring their best…
After England qualified as group winners along with Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, current winners France, Germany, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland; just 10 teams are left to fight for the final 3 places.
Kicking off tomorrow night, Wales welcome Austria to the Cardiff City Stadium at 7.45PM. Qualifying for the play-offs via UEFA Nations League rankings, Austria finished 4th in a tough qualifying group.
With 16 points from their 10 games, they were level on points and goal difference with Israel in 3rd, while Scotland finished runners up and Denmark dominated the group winning 9 out of 10.
Wales, on the other hand, came runners up to Belgium in Group E. With 15 points from a possible 24, they’re coming off the back of 3 wins and 3 draws, including a plucky 1-1 draw against Belgium back in November to secure a home tie.
The winner of this first semi-final will face either Scotland or Ukraine, with their game currently postponed.
In Path B, Sweden host Czech Republic at the 50,000 capacity Friends Arena, with Poland awaiting the winner in the final.
Sweden had an indifferent Group B experience, racking up 5 wins from 8 to finish only behind group winners Spain, they started out their campaign with 3 wins on the bounce, including an incredible 2-1 win against the 2010 World Cup winners last September.
However, with losses to Greece, Georgia and Spain in the last few games, they’ll be looking to make an impact in front of the home fans.
Facing Sweden is a Czech Republic side that gained credit at last year’s Euro 2020 tournament with a comfortable 2-0 win at Hampden Park over Scotland. Set for a home semi-final spot with 2 wins and 2 draws in their final 4 group stage games, they were just edged out by Wales.
Finally, in Path C, Euro 2022 champions Italy host unlikely semi-finalists North Macedonia at the Stadio Renzo Barbera tomorrow night.
In a group which Italy were favourites to win, the Azzuri finished unbeaten in Group C, but with 4 draws from their last 5, including a 0-0 result away to Northern Ireland in their final match, they could only manage runners up behind Switzerland.
However, with North Macedonia standing in their way, the Italians will be hoping they can overcome the 67th ranked team with a routine win.
Arguably the toughest game of the play-offs sees Turkey travel to Portugal in Path C’s second semi-final.
Having won 5 of their opening 6 games in Group A, Portugal were destined to top the group and book their spot on the plane to Qatar. But the international break back in November couldn’t have gone worse for them, drawing 0-0 away to Republic of Ireland before crucially losing 2-1 at home to group rivals Serbia just 3 days later.
Their opponents, Turkey, come into this game full of confidence off the back of 3 straight wins to secure the runners up spot. Finishing with 21 points from a possible 30, they finished just 2 points behind group winners Netherlands.
Set for the big games? With the semi-finals kicking off tomorrow night and Path B and C finals next Tuesday, make sure you’re reppin’ your nation’s colours with our range of international kits right here!
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JD Football | November 21, 2023