World Cup 2022 News: European qualification is said to be one of the toughest in the world and it is right. Ten teams have already qualified for the World Cup in Qatar from Europe and only three places are left.
North Macedonia stunned Italy by knocking out the European champions with a last-minute winner, ensuring the Azzurri will miss the World Cup for the second time in a row, while Gareth Bale led Wales to a thrilling victory over Austria.
As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they have been disqualified from the competition, giving Poland a bye in their play-off match. As a result of the war, Ukraine’s semi-final against Scotland will be played in June.
Only one of the remaining 11 European countries can advance to the World Cup this year, as they are divided into three groups. This is the last opportunity saloon for players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and others.
World Cup 2022 News: Cristiano Ronaldo
In what could be his final international competition, the Portuguese captain could have to do it all over again. The 37-year-old was inconsolable after Portugal missed out on automatic qualification after their loss to Serbia.
With a star-studded ensemble that includes Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, and Diogo Jota, a World Cup without Portugal is borderline unthinkable.
Portugal’s route to Qatar looked like the toughest. However, after thrashing Turkey, their confidence will be sky-high. The Portuguese have been helped massively by Italy’s shock loss to North Macedonia.
While Portugal may have the toughest schedule, Poland is on the other end of the spectrum after obtaining a bye to their group’s final. Lewandowski was awarded the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2021, and he will be looking to lead Poland to the World Cup, as he did last year.
Lewandowski’s Poland will be up against Sweden. The Swedes won against the Czech Republic to set up a clash with the Bayern Munich striker in the final. In qualification, the 33-year-old scored eight of Poland’s 30 goals. This was an indication that the Poland team is improving as a whole and not just dependent on their captain.
This is the last chance for Ibrahimovic. The AC Milan striker will turn 41, making him the second-oldest outfield player behind Roger Milla. And, this will be his chance to show why he remains one of the best strikers even at this age. Lewandowski vs Zlatan is a mouth-watering showdown with both strikers scoring goals for fun in their leagues.
Sweden will face Poland, who have their own talismanic forward in Robert Lewandowski, after an extra-time winner from Robin Quiason. Ibrahimovic missed the game against the Czechs but he is expected to play in the final.