Here We Go Again…Everything You Need to Know About the World Cup Playoffs

Here we go again. Last night’s defeat at the hands of Serbia means that just like in 2010 and 2014, Portugal will need to win via the playoffs to guarantee a spot at the 2022 World Cup.

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With so many questions being asked of the Seleção, Fernando Santos and the Federeção over how a crop of talent as good as this one has to rely on the playoffs to make it to football’s biggest party, Próxima Jornada looks at the playoff structure, who Portugal could face and gives you everything you need to know.

How does the draw work?

Twelve teams will enter the playoffs for the World Cup, divided into three different paths. Each path will have four teams, there are two rounds in the playoffs, a semi-final and a final, structured like a mini tournament. Three teams in total, the three path winners, will be joining the rest of the qualified teams for the World Cup.

The twelve teams in the playoffs are made up of the ten group runners-up as well as the two best group winners from UEFA Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly via the World Cup qualifiers by finishing in first place or finished second and entered the playoffs that way.

The six best-ranked teams to finish second in the first phase of qualifying will be seeded, meaning Portugal will definitely be seeded and will play their semi-final at home.

What teams are likely to be in the playoffs?




North Macedonia
Czech Republic

The draw for the playoffs is November 26, 2021.

The games will be played the week of March 24th – March 29th 2022. Each game will be a single leg.

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