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How do the 2022 World Cup play-offs work? Everything you need to know

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Credit: WorldCup Instagram

The 2022 Qatar World Cup takes place from November 21 to December 18 with the play-offs to reach the competition running from March 24 to 29. The 10 runners up will be joined by the two best group winners from the 2020/21 UEFA Nations league to make up the rest of the play-off fixtures.

But, who has already qualified for Qatar and who needs what?

Nations already qualified for Qatar 2022

Group A – Serbia secure place in Qatar

Serbia defeated Ronaldo’s Portugal in a dramatic final game to secure their place in next years competition. A late winner courtesy of Aleksandar Mitrovic sent his side through as group winners and condemned Santos’ men to the play-offs. 

Elsewhere in Group A, Republic Of Ireland confirmed third spot after their impressive 2-0 away victory in Luxembourg. Their opponents Luxemborug, also finished with 9 points as Azerbaijan sit bottom of the pack.

Group B – Spain take top spot

Alvaro Morata’s 86th minute strike secured Spain’s position at the top as they left it late at home against Sweden. Their opponents will compete in the play-offs after finishing in second place.

Greece, Georgia and Kosovo all missed out on a place in Qatar and sit in that order with all games having been played. Sunday’s final group fixture saw Greece and Kosovo share the spoils thanks to a 1-1 draw.

Group C –  Italy and Switzerland remain locked together

Italy and Switzerland battle it out at the top the group to secure a place in the 2022 World Cup. Ahead of their respective fixtures both sides sit on 15 points and know that win could send them to Qatar.

Jorginho missed the opportunity to send his side to the tournament after his penalty miss in the 1-1 draw between the teams.

However, Italy hold a slight advantage before the game with a superior goal difference (+2) and just need to match Switzerland’s result at home to Bulgaria. Mancini’s men face a difficult trip to Northern Ireland. 

 Group D – France qualify as winners

Following their 8-0 demolition of Kazakstan, France have confirmed top spot with a game to play. Mpabbe scored four in Paris on Friday.

The fight for second goes down to the final fixtures on Tuesday evening with Finland and Ukraine in with a chance of securing a play-off. To have any chance of climbing into the runners up position, Ukraine must win away in Bosnia. Finland host France and can secure their place with a victory.

Group E – Can Wales get something from game with Belgium?

After defeating Belarus 2-0 last week, Wales head into their final fixture knowing a draw at home to Belgium will be enough to hold off Czech Republic and secure the runners-up position. The latter need a victory against Estonia to have any chance of getting into the play-offs. Both games kick of at 7:45pm on Tuesday.

As a result of Spain’s close win over Greece in their penultimate game, Wales have at-least a play-off semi final place for the World Cup via the Nations league courtesy of their 5th place ranking.

France, Italy, Spain and Belgium have all secured at least a runners-up place, meaning Bale’s men are confirmed a place in the play-offs but will be hoping to achieve a home fixture with at least a draw on Tuesday evening. 

Belgium have already qualified for Qatar, sitting comfortably at the top of the group.

Group F – Scotland seal play-off place in penultimate game

Scotland defeated Moldova 2-0 on Friday to secure a play-off position. Clarke’s side are out of sight and cannot be caught in second. However, if they manage to defeat group toppers Denmark at Hampden Park on Monday evening they will be seeded going into the play-offs. 

The Scot can’t overtake the Danes who became the second European team to reach the 2022 World Cup following their close 1-0 win over Austria last time out.

Hjulman’s team will be looking to maintain their perfect record in group F to make it ten wins out of ten – an impressive feat. 

Group G – Netherlands stay top despite throwing away 2-0 lead

Netherlands, Turkey and Norway can all qualify as group winners and secure a place in Qatar following Montenegro’s surprising 2-2 home draw with Van Dijk’s side.

Turkey and Norway are level on points in second and third respectively and sit two points behind the current leaders. The Dutch need just a draw from their final game in Amsterdam against Norway.

However, the group remains on a knife-edge. If Norway were to complete an unlikely win and Turkey were to be victorious over Montenegro the team in Orange would miss out on another major international tournament. 

Group H – Croatia leave it late against Russia 

Following a Fedor Kudryashov own goal in the closing stages to give Croatia a 1-0 win over Russia, the 2018 world cup runners-up confirmed their place in Qatar. Russia will compete in the play-offs in March 2022.

Slovakia and Sweden finished in third and fourth place respectively with an equal points tally while Malta finish bottom as a result of their damaging goal-difference which sees Cyrpus sit above in 5th.

 Group I – England all-but secure 2022 World Cup place

England hammered Albania at Wembley on Friday evening to put one foot in Qatar next year. Southgate’s side need just a point against FIFAs lowest ranked team San Marino. Poland secured a runners-up place thanks to a 4-1 victory over Andorra as Lewandowski netted a double. 

The remaining fixtures are: 

November 15: San Marino vs England – kick-off 7.45pm

November 15: Albania vs Andorra – kick-off 7.45pm

November 15: Poland vs Hungary – kick-off 7.45pm

Group J – Germany confirm top-spot, N Macedonia head for play-offs

The German’s were the first European team to qualify for the 2022 World-Cup after their impressive 4-0 away victory against North Macedonia.

 In the two games since, Hansi Flicks’s team have scored 13 goals and conceded just once – including the 9-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein and 4-1 win over Armenia in their final qualifier.

North Macedonia claimed the play-off spot with a professional 3-1 win over Iceland, finishing on 18 points – 1 point clear of Romania in third. 

Final European Qualifiers still to play

How do the 2022 Qatar World Cup play-offs work? 

During the play-off draw on November 26 2021, the 12 teams mentioned at the start will be placed into three paths to compete in their one-off semi-final fixtures and resulting final. The three finalists from each path will then qualify for the tournament in Qatar.

The draw in just over ten days will be seeded upon qualifying-round points with the two Nations League teams left unseeded and will determine venue for one-legged finals.

The teams who are included through their Nations League ranking will only be involved if they haven’t secured a play-off place via the qualifiers as runners-up or group winners.

Here are the current group runners-up, as it stands:

*(Q= qualified for play-offs)

Group A – Portugal (Q)

Group B – Sweden (Q)

Group C – Switzerland

Group D – Finland

Group E – Wales

Group F – Scotland (Q)

Group G – Turkey

Group H – Russia (Q)

Group I – Poland (Q)

Group J – North Macedonia (Q)

Here are the teams in with a chance of a play-off place thanks to their Nations League position:

Group E – Wales

Group E – Czech Republic

Group F – Austria

The 2022 finals takes place between November and December next year and will be the first winter World Cup. The draw for which will take place in April 2022 once all the play-off games have been decided. 

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Meet the British Woman Hoping to End F1’s 46-year Wait For a Female Driver

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The modern sports industry remains a very male dominated field. Historically motorsport especially being one of the most inaccessible to women.

In its entire 72-year history, only two women have ever driven in a Formula 1 grand prix. The last was the pioneer Lella Lombardi, the Italian who competed in 12 races between 1974 and 1976 for teams including Williams.

Now, Britain’s Jamie Chadwick is aiming to end the 46-year wait for a woman to sit behind the wheel of a car on the starting grid at the very top level of racing.

The 23-year-old from Bath, is the most prominent woman in world the world of motorsport thanks to the strong results she has earned in the early stages of her career across multiple categories.

Chadwick is about to embark on her third season in W Series, an all-female racing championship launched in 2019 which aims to ensure more women are able to make professional careers out of motor racing.

The aim means that, in conjunction with the heated rivalry that understandably comes with battling for the championship on track, the athletes competing in W Series feel they share a common goal to help one another improve and make overall progress for women in motorsport too. Chadwick has won the title in both of W Series’ first two campaigns.

Speaking to Metro she said:  ‘Everyone expects us not to get on [because we are rivals] but we really, genuinely do. The big reason in my opinion is that we’ve all been through such a similar experience in the sport individually. We can share those experiences with each other and push each other to bring one another on, and hopefully leave the sport in a better place for the next generation coming through.’

Do you think she stands a chance of making it?

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Newcastle co-owner says Chelsea’s Abramovich having to sell isn’t fair

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Credit: Chelsea FC Instagram

Newcastle co-owner Amanda Staveley “doesnt think its particularly fair” that Roman Abramovich is selling following the Russia-Ukraine war.

The businessman announced he had made the “incredibly difficult decision” in a statement on the Premier League club’s website.

There has been calls for Abramovich to be sanctioned, as Chris Bryant alleges leaked Home Office document from 2019 shows he had links to Russian state as well as to “corrupt activity and practices” – the Guardian reports.

Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, Staveley said: “We’re always going to have geopolitical issues.

I’m really sad that someone is going to have a football club taken away because of a relationship he may have with someone.

“I don’t think that’s particularly fair to be honest. But I also think that we have to hold all of our relationships to account.”

In his statement, Abramovich said: “I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart.

“In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners.

“The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process.”

Abramovich has said that he won’t be asking for loans to be repaid.

He added: “I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

The businessman bought Chelsea back in 2003 for £140m, and has since loaned the club over £1.5bn.

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss has told Swiss newspaper Blick that he has the chance to buy Chelsea.

However he says that at the moment Abramovich is “asking far too much.”

What are your thoughts?

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Russia’s captain Aleksandr Golovin speaks out on Russian invasion

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Credit: Aleksandr Golovin Instagram

Russia’s football captain Aleksandr Golovin has spoke out about the Russia-Ukraine war.

In a post uploaded to Instagram on Wednesday, the footballer said he hadn’t before now because he wasn’t an expert in politics.

However, he said he would now express his opinion, because he has been drawn to this topic from “all sides.”

It follows furious backlash from Ukrainian players Vitalii Mykolenko and Andriy Yarmolenko about Russian players staying quiet about the invasion of Ukraine.

The captain wrote: “War is a frightful thing. But I am shocked by human aggression and hatred, which every day acquires some sort of unprecedented scale.

“I am against discrimination based on nationality. I’m not ashamed that I’m Russian. I am proud to be Russian. And I don’t understand why athletes should suffer now.”

He continued he was “against double standards.”

Golovin added: “Why is it that one can do everything, but all the dogs are hanged on us. Why has everyone always shouted about sports outside of politics, but at the first opportunity, when it comes to Russia, this principle is completely forgotten?”

He expressed that “anger, dirt and bile” is being poured on Russian people, “regardless of their position and profession.”

The Zenit St Petersburg forward concluded: “P.S. And to some colleagues in the workshop who sit on their ass in mansions in England and say nasty things: it cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and goodness to everybody!”

On Tuesday in an Instagram post, Everton’s Mykolenko criticised Russia’s international players for remaining silent whilst “peaceful civilians are being killed in Ukraine.”

The 22-year-old wrote: “You will be locked in your dungeon for the rest of your life and most importantly the lives of your kids. And I’m glad.”

West Ham’s Yarmolenko also hit out at Russian players on Tuesday.

In a video uploaded to Instagram, he said: “Guys, why are you sitting like shitheads and not saying anything? In my country they’re killing people, killing wives, killing our children. But you’re saying nothing, you’ve given no comments.”

Russia has been suspended from all competition, Fifa and Uefa have ruled.

 

 

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