Italy, thrilling playoffs: here are the teams that await us

Italy, thrilling playoffs: here are the teams that await us
Italy, thrilling playoffs: here are the teams that await us

Italy comes from top seed, but to go to the World Cup you need to win two straight matches: the risk is to play against Portugal or Sweden who eliminated us in 2017

Damn, still playoffs. The ghost that we thought we had definitively erased from the horizon, the Swedish nightmare that materializes on the road to Qatar 2022. We have burnt all the points and psychological advantage in this European post, the illusion of being the strongest, letting ourselves be overcome from Switzerland. Now, if we want to qualify, there are two games. We are seeded, but it changes little. With the prospect of four months to worry about what could be and what maybe will be. And the prospect of an “in or out” final against CR7’s Portugal or Ibra’s Sweden in Lisbon and Stockholm. It can happen, yes.

The rules

12 teams participate in the playoffs: the 10 runners-up of the groups and the best 2 of the Nations League not qualified via groups. At the draw on Friday 26 November these 12 will be divided into two bands: 6 seeded, 6 “un” seeded. Pending today’s results, this is the situation at the moment. Seeded: Portugal, Scotland, Italy and Russia safe, plus Sweden and Poland. Unseeded: Wales, Macedonia, Turkey (but Norway and Holland can take over), Finland (or Ukraine), plus Austria and the Czech Republic from Nations.

The intersections

Three “final four” tennis scoreboards will be drawn at the draw. In each “final” we will have 2 seeded and 2 “non”. To give a theoretical example, Italy-Austria and Portugal-Macedonia could be coupled. Dry match on 24/25 March at the seed’s home. The two winners then compete in the final for the only available seat, the venue always decided on the 26th by drawing lots. So, even going through a smoother first round, a dangerous and even away rival could happen. Three “final four” and three qualified.


This is a ruthless mechanism, a consequence also of the seats (13) reserved for Europe, 41%, few in relation to the strength of the continent, but a sacrifice requested by FIFA in the name of its third worldism. In 2026, with the World Cup with 48 teams, the Europeans will be 16, therefore 3 more, but in percentage terms even less (33% of the total): 16 is the perfect number that allows you to insert a European in each of the 16 groups of 3 with which the new World Championship begins (the first 2 pass). And for the moment the discussion on the biennial World Cup is silent …

And rivals

The analysis of the opponents cannot be limited to the second tier teams, given the double round. On paper only Portugal are as strong as we are, perhaps more technically, but less of a team. Sweden, Russia, Poland, Scotland, Wales, Turkey, Macedonia, Finland, Austria and the Czech Republic appear to be inferior. None of them are big. But the risk is to use the aperture of the European Championship or of the previous qualifiers, when Italy always found the solution. We have lost a lot of securities since then. Psychologically the worst match would be the one with Sweden who hurt us in 2017. Today the best path seems to be Finland in the semifinals and Wales or Russia in the final, but it’s not the same as playing the World Cup in Rome or Cardiff. and Moscow.

November 15, 2021 (change November 16, 2021 | 00:23)



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