After being put in the same playoff bracket, either Italy or Portugal will miss the 2022 World Cup.
Italy and Cristiano Ronaldo will both be absent from the World Cup in Qatar. On Friday, current and former European champions Italy and Portugal were placed into the same qualifying playoff round, ensuring that at least one of them will miss out on next year’s event.
Italy will play North Macedonia in a playoff semifinal at home next March, with the winner facing either Portugal or Turkey for a place in the World Cup.
After losing in the playoffs to Sweden, four-time champion Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, missing the tournament for the first time since 1958. It may have to defeat Euro 2016 winner Portugal to avoid a second consecutive defeat after winning Euro 2020 in July.
“It’s not a great draw, and it could have gone better,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini acknowledged.
“It’s not worth thinking about (Italy),” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.
“It’s important that we concentrate on beating Turkey.”