You can feel the men’s World Cup moving ever closer. With just Tuesday night’s games remaining in the group stage of European qualifying, next year’s main event in Qatar is beginning to take shape.
England and Switzerland were among those to book their spots in the first ever winter World Cup on Monday, with the Three Lions battering San Marino 10-0 and Murat Yakin’s side handing a 4-0 defeat to Bulgaria which saw them finish above European champions Italy.
But what else still needs to be decided, and who is likely to play whom in the play-offs in March? Here’s your full run-down of the remaining permutations in the Uefa qualification.
Group Winners – all have qualified automatically
Serbia (Group A), Spain (B), Switzerland (C), France (D), Belgium (E), Denmark (F), Netherlands (G), Croatia (H), England (I), Germany (J)
Runners-up – all have reached the play-offs
Portugal (Group A), Sweden (B), Italy (C), Scotland (F), Russia (H), Poland (I), North Macedonia (J)
Highest-ranked Nations League winners – both reach the play-offs
Austria and Wales or Czech Republic
Remaining play-off battles:
Finland (11 pts) or Ukraine (9 pts)
Bosnia-Herzegovina v Ukraine (1945 GMT)
Finland v France (1945 GMT)
If Ukraine fail to win, Finland reach the play-offs.
If Finland beat France, they will secure the play-off spot.
If Finland draw and Ukraine win by two clear goals, Ukraine reach the play-offs. Should Ukraine win by one and score at least one goal more than Finland in the process, they make the play-offs.
Wales (14pts) or Czech Republic (11pts)
Czech Republic v Estonia (1945 GMT)
Wales v Belgium (1945 GMT)
Both Wales and the Czech Republic are already assured of reaching the play-offs as League B winners in the Nations League, but a second-place finish in Group E would give either team an outside shot of a home draw in the semi-final.
To finish second, Czech Republic need to win and hope Wales lose, while either completing a three-goal swing or scoring at least twice more than Wales do.
Turkey (18pts, +10 GD) or Norway (18pts, +9 GD)
Montenegro v Turkey (1945 GMT)
Netherlands v Norway (1945 GMT)
Turkey need to match Norway’s result to qualify for the play-offs.
Norway must better Turkey’s result, or win by two goals more than Turkey do to qualify.
The six highest-seeded nations will be given home ties in the draw for the play-off semi-finals. The draw takes place in Zurich on 26 November, with games to be played on 24-25 March 2022. Finals will be on 28-29 March, with home advantage decided by a draw.
The teams guaranteed a home draw in the semi-finals are:
Portugal (1), Scotland (2), Italy (3), Russia (4)
Sweden (5), Poland (6), Wales or Czech Republic (7), North Macedonia (8), Turkey or Norway (9), Finland or Ukraine (10), Austria, Czech Republic
Currently, Sweden are fifth seeds and Poland sixth, although a win for Wales at home to Belgium and a victory of five goals or more for either Turkey or Norway would see both Sweden and Poland deposed from seeded spots, resulting in home ties for Wales and the Group G play-off representative. If Wales are overturned by the Czech Republic, they will automatically be unseeded, while Czech Republic would need both Turkey and Norway to come away without a win whilst winning by five goals themselves alongside a Wales defeat if they are to earn a home tie.
The final Group D runners-up (Finland or Ukraine) are guaranteed to be unseeded unless Finland beat France by a score of 8-2 or better on Tuesday and Wales lose to Belgium or Turkey fail to beat Montenegro.
Austria remain unseeded regardless as Nations League representatives.
This means Scotland stand to face one of Sweden, Poland, Wales, North Macedonia, Turkey, Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Austria or Czech Republic at home in the semi-finals, while Wales could yet face any of the play-off contenders depending on their final seeding position.