what every country needs in Europe

With two rounds remaining in European World Cup qualifying, the race is hotting up for a place at Qatar 2022.

In October, Germany became the first country to book a place at the finals, quickly followed by Denmark. That leaves eight automatic qualification spots still up for grabs for group winners, along with 10 playoff places for the group runners-up.

– UEFA World Cup playoff system explained
– World Cup 2022 qualifying: How it works around the world

Here’s the state of play across all 10 groups.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal side could yet face the World Cup qualification playoffs. PEDJA MILOSAVLJEVIC/AFP via Getty Images

Nov. 14: Luxembourg vs. Republic of Ireland, Portugal vs. Serbia

Group A

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Portugal7510+12172 – Serbia7520+8171st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

Portugal (17 points) drew level with Serbia (17 points) after being held to a 0-0 draw away to Republic of Ireland on Thursday. But it’s the Portuguese who top the group on goal difference.

It means Cristiano Ronaldo’s team and only need to avoid defeat at home to Serbia on Sunday in the final group game to qualify for the World Cup.

Serbia must win in Lisbon or they will be the team consigned to the playoffs.



Cristiano Ronaldo scores his tenth hat trick for Portugal as his side continues to cruise in UEFA World Cup qualifying.

Nov. 14: Greece vs. Kosovo, Spain vs. Sweden

Group B

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Spain7411+9162 – Sweden7502+7151st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

Disaster struck for Sweden (15 points) after they lost in Georgia on Thursday. Victory for Spain (16 points) in Greece later sent them top of the group.

It comes down to the meeting between the two in Seville on Sunday — and now Spain only need to avoid defeat on home soil to top the group and go direct to the World Cup, consigning Sweden to the playoffs. Sweden must win to avoid the playoffs.

– UEFA WC qualifiers on ESPN+: Stream games, replays (U.S. only)
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Nov. 12: Italy vs. Switzerland, Northern Ireland vs. Lithuania
Nov. 15: Northern Ireland vs. Italy, Switzerland vs. Bulgaria

Group C

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Italy6420+11142 – Switzerland6420+9141st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

Another group with just two teams left in contention, Italy and Switzerland locked on 14 points.

Italy top the group by virtue of having a better goal difference, but by only two goals.

The two nations meet in Rome on Nov. 12, and if there’s a winner in that match, they will then need a point in the final game to qualify for the World Cup.

If Italy and Switzerland draw, then the Swiss will need to either better Italy’s result on the final day, or win by at least two more goals to draw level on goal difference.

If Italy and Switzerland finish level on points and goal difference (and goals scored), it goes down to head to head. If it’s a scoring draw in Rome, Switzerland win the head to head. If it’s a goalless draw in Rome, first and second could be decided on disciplinary record.

Italy won Euro 2020 but could still face the World Cup playoffs. Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Nov. 13: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Finland, France vs. Kazakhstan
Nov. 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Ukraine, Finland vs. France

Group D

GPWDLGDPTS1 – France6330+5122 – Ukraine7160+193 – Finland6222084 – Bosnia6141+171st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

A more open group, with four nations still in contention.

France (12 points) top the group and will seal their place at the World Cup with a win over Kazakhstan. Can also qualify with a draw if Bosnia-Finland is a draw too.

Ukraine (9 points) sit in second but, without a game on Nov. 13, may not be there when they travel to Bosnia on the final day. They have only one game remaining, meaning they can only top the group if France lose both games next month. With Finland to play France on Nov. 14, the likelihood is a win over Bosnia may be enough to secure second place.

Finland (8 points) and Bosnia (7 points) meet each other on Nov. 11, and the result of this game will set out exactly what is required for second in the last pair of games.

Nov. 13: Belgium vs. Estonia, Wales vs. Belarus
Nov. 16: Czech Republic vs. Estonia, Wales vs. Belgium

Group E

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Belgium6510+17162 – Czech Rep7322+3113 – Wales6321+1111st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

Belgium (16 points) are guaranteed to finish in the top two, and need a win at home to Estonia to secure qualification. They would also qualify if Wales fail to beat Belarus in Cardiff.

The real battle is for second, with Czech Republic and Wales on 14 points. Wales are third on goal difference (two goals worse off than the Czechs) but have a game in hand (at home to Belarus). Wales will need to make the most of that game, because they host Belgium in their final qualifier. If Wales beat Belarus, they would need to avoid defeat against Belgium to secure second.

If Wales lose at home to Belgium, then the door is open for Czech Republic to finish second on goal difference with a win over Estonia.

Wales are guaranteed a playoff spot if they finish outside the top two as UEFA Nations League group winners, while Czech Republic are almost certain to if they are third.

– UEFA World Cup playoff system explained

Nov. 12: Austria vs. Israel, Denmark vs. Faroe Islands, Moldova vs. Scotland
Nov. 15: Austria vs. Moldova, Israel vs. Faroe Islands, Scotland vs. Denmark

Group F

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Denmark8800+27242 – Scotland8521+6173 – Israel8413+3131st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

Denmark have qualified with a 100% record, which leaves a direct fight for second between Scotland (17) and Israel (13).

Scotland will be through to the playoffs with a win in Moldova, or if Israel fail to win in Austria.

But if it goes down to the final round then Israel have hope, with Scotland up against Denmark.

Austria are out of contention for the top two, but have a very good chance of getting into the playoffs as a UEFA Nations League group winner.



Joakim Maehle’s lone goal propels Denmark to its 8th-straight win and a berth in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Nov. 13: Norway vs. Latvia, Turkey vs. Gibraltar, Montenegro vs. Netherlands
Nov. 16: Gibraltar vs. Latvia, Montenegro vs. Turkey, Netherlands vs. Norway

Group G

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Netherlands8611+23192 – Norway8521+9173 – Turkey8431+4154 – Montenegro83230111st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

A tight group in which three nations still have realistic hopes of qualifying.

Netherlands (19 points) lead the way and know that two wins sends them to the World Cup. They can also qualify with a win on Nov. 13 if Norway fail to beat Latvia.

Norway (17 points) are still very much in contention, and if they beat Latvia it will come down to the meeting with Netherlands in Rotterdam on the final day. If Norway and Netherlands both win on Nov. 13, Norway would need a victory in the Netherlands to top the group, and they are far from safe for second.

Turkey (15 points) have hope due to Norway having to travel to play Netherlands. If Turkey win both their remaining games, they will finish second if Norway drop any points.

Montenegro (11 points) still have a mathematical chance of second, but nothing more than that and it would require Turkey failing to beat Gibraltar.

Nov. 14: Croatia vs. Russia, Malta vs. Slovakia, Slovenia vs. Cyprus

Group H

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Russia9611+14222 – Croatia9521+16201st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

A two-horse race between Russia (22 points) and Croatia (20 points).

It leaves a straight shootout in Split in Sunday when Croatia host Russia. Croatia need to win to climb above their visitors and win the group.

Nov. 12: Andorra vs. Poland, England vs. Albania, Hungary vs. San Marino
Nov. 15: Albania vs. Andorra, Poland vs. Hungary, San Marino vs. England

Group I

GPWDLGDPTS1 – England8620+21202 – Poland8521+17173 – Albania8503+4154 – Hungary8323+1111st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

England (20 points) are limping over the line somewhat but should still qualify without any issues. A win at home to Albania on Nov. 12 will send them to the World Cup if Poland (17 points) fail to beat Andorra, though that seems unlikely. Even if England were to lose at home to Albania (and Poland beat Andorra), they would have a final game against San Marino to bolster their goal difference against the Poles (currently +4 to England).

Albania (15 points) will realistically have to win at Wembley to keep their hopes alive, anything else and they will almost certainly be out of contention before the last day.

Hungary (11 points) have a mathematical chance, but they would need Poland to lose in Andorra and turnaround a goal difference deficit of 13 with the Poles.

England struggled against Hungary but remain strong favourites to top the group. Getty

Nov. 14: Armenia vs. Germany, Liechtenstein vs. Romania, North Macedonia vs. Iceland

Group J

GPWDLGDPTS1 – Germany9801+29242 – N Macedonia9432+10153 – Romania9423+3144 – Armenia9333-8121st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs

With Germany already having secured their place, it’s now a three-way battle for the playoff spot.

North Macedonia (15 points) have it in their own hands and will definitely be in the playoffs with a win at home to Iceland on Sunday.

Due to vastly inferior goal difference, Romania (14 points) must beat Liechtenstein and hope North Macedonia lose or draw.

Armenia have a mere mathematical chance, as they would have to beat Germany, hope North Macedonia lose and Romania don’t win, while overturning a goal difference deficit of 18.


The 10 runners-up from the groups are joined by the best two UEFA Nations League group winners not to have finished in the top two of their qualifying group.

2 Related

Based upon the UEFA Nations League group winners who can still finish outside the two top, the order of preference for a playoff place is: France, Wales, Austria, Czech Republic.

As Austria, and either Wales or Czech Republic, are guaranteed to finish outside the top two in their group, no other country is in contention for one of the two additional places.

The playoffs, to be played in March 2022, will be seeded by qualifying points, with the two UEFA Nations League teams unseeded.

Seeded teams will be drawn at home against unseeded teams in one-legged semifinals.

There will then be an open draw for the three playoff finals, which again will be one-off games, to decide the last places.


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