SportsThis is how 14 places will be decided for the Qatar World...

This is how 14 places will be decided for the Qatar World Cup in a week



The Qatar World Cup is in sight through a big week in which 14 tickets will be distributed for as many teams that will join the 15 already classified. On April 1, the group stage is drawn in Doha, but even then three of the 32 protagonists of the first autumn World Cup (from November 21 to December 18) will be missing. The conflict in Ukraine delays until June the resolution of one of the three European playoffs. It will be then when the classifieds in the two intercontinental playoffs will also be known.

The days to come will be bloody for various world football references. In Europe, at least one of the last two continental champions (Portugal or Italy, or both) will be left out of Qatar. Two of Liverpool’s stars, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, will repeat the Egypt-Senegal final of the recent African Cup with a place in the World Cup at stake. Colombia, which was fifth in 2014 and ninth in 2018, hangs on a soccer miracle in a classification in which Uruguay and Chile are also in danger.

A review of the five continents warns of a succession of decisive duels in seven frenetic days. In Europe, South America, Africa and Asia everything will be played on the 24th (this Thursday) and the 29th (next Tuesday). The last to resolve will be the teams from Central and North America and those from Oceania, on the 30th.

Classified: (10 of 13 seats): Spain, Germany, England, Serbia, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Croatia.

Playoffs: Portugal-Turkey against Italy-North Macedonia; Poland vs. Sweden-Rep. Czech; Scotland-Ukraine against Austria-Wales.

Places to distribute: three in a format of three mini-tournaments with a semifinal, a single match (this Thursday at 8:45 p.m.), and a final.

The draw gave Italy and Portugal the advantage of seeking their pass to the final as locals, but placed both in the same group, headed for an all or nothing that would be staged in Porto on the 29th. Before, this Thursday, they must overtake North Macedonia and Turkey, respectively. The stake seems more complicated for the Portuguese, who receive in Porto a rival strengthened in attack with a set piece specialist, Çalhanoglu, the new sensation Akturkoglu, the expert Burak Yilmaz and striker Enes Ünal, from Getafe, in his best season .

The other two keys have been conditioned by the crisis in Ukraine, whose team will not visit Scotland until June. The rival of that crossing will come out of the Wales-Austria that is played today in Cardiff, with Bale in perfect condition after being absent from the classic due to back discomfort. “I’m in pretty good shape,” she said yesterday. Russia, sanctioned, will not be in Qatar and favors Poland’s pass to a final in which the winner of Sweden-Czech Republic awaits at home.

Classified: Brazil and Argentina.

Current classification two days from the end: Brazil (39), Argentina (35), Ecuador (25), Uruguay (22), Peru (21), Chile (19), Colombia (17).

Places to distribute: two direct and a playoff against a rival from Asia.

In a league format between 10 teams, the final two days remain with Brazil and Argentina classified and without knowing the defeat. Ecuador, the revelation of the tournament, will be in its fourth World Cup if it draws at the home of eliminated Paraguay, but it would even celebrate with a defeat if Peru and Chile fall on their visits to Uruguay and Brazil. The Charrúas depend on themselves to enter directly, but they risk it with their two pursuers, Peruvians and Chileans. La Roja, directed by Martín Lasarte and with the Galician Francis Cagigao at the head of its sports management, seeks to break with history and sign an event never seen before: winning on Brazilian soil after 29 failed attempts. The appointment is nothing less than Maracana. If they don’t win and Uruguay beats Peru in Montevideo, fourth place will go to the Charrúas this Thursday. The fifth classified will play a playoff that could be against Australia and Japan. Colombia would already sign it, which will play against Bolivia and Venezuela, but it is four points away from that option and five from the direct pass. You have to win and wait.

Current classification three days from the end: Canada (25), United States (21), Mexico (21), Panama (17), Costa Rica (16).

Places to distribute: three direct and a playoff against the winner of Oceania.

Canada caresses its pass to a World Cup after 36 years of absence and with the prospect that in the next one, in 2026, they will be hosts along with the United States and Mexico. There are nine points at stake and they are eight ahead of the fourth, who will play the playoffs. If they beat Costa Rica they will have achieved their goal. Alphonso Davis, the best of the team, will be missing, and the Costa Ricans, who have gone from less to more, rush their options to reach at least a playoff that is presumed accessible against the representative of Oceania. The United States and Mexico meet at the Azteca in a zonal classic in which the first, with the worst schedule, have the most to lose. But both seem headed towards Qatar, while Costa Rica and Panama, led by the Spanish-Danish Thomas Christiansen, focus on securing the final duel in June to achieve one of the last three World Cup places.

Classified: Iran and South Korea.

Current classification with two days to play: Group A: Iran (22), South Korea (20), United Arab Emirates (9), Lebanon (8). Group B: Arabia (19), Japan (18), Australia (15).

Places to distribute: two direct and two for a playoff prior to the confrontation with the fifth in South America.

Saudi Arabia will join already qualified Iran and South Korea if they beat China in a match to be played on neutral ground. Japan and Australia will play the last direct ticket, with an advantage for the Japanese, who in any case have to visit Sydney this Thursday. There would be a play-off preview for June with the two third-placed teams from each group and the final option against a South American rival.

Places to distribute: five in knockout rounds. Egypt-Senegal; Cameroon-Algeria; Ghana-Nigeria; Congo-Morocco and Mali-Tunisia.

The very expensive African classification holds five stellar round-trip duels. The two finalists of the recent African Cup, Egypt and Senegal, play a ticket, but it is not the only cross between giants. Algeria, led by Mahrez, will seek to redeem themselves after their fiasco in the continental tournament, which they arrived at as favourites, but will face Cameroon. Both teams missed the last World Cup. Nigeria is already a classic in that event, having only lost once since its debut in the United States in 1994, but it will not be easy against Ghana. Others seek to emerge, such as the Congo coached by Héctor Cúper, and Mali, which is seeking its first World Cup by all means and has just recruited Doucuré, Everton midfielder.

Places to distribute: one for the playoff against the Concacaf fourth.

At stake is a qualifying tournament that is played in a concentration format in Qatar. But two of the eight teams (Vanuatu and Cook Islands) have had to withdraw due to covid outbreaks. The normal thing is that the procedure crowns New Zealand as the best team of the eight on the 30th and gives it an appointment in the playoff against the fourth-placed Concacaf in June.

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