World Cup 2022 qualifying: the spots in Qatar up for grabs this week | World Cup 2022 qualifiers

T.his is a massive week for the countries still hoping to reach the World Cup finals tournament in Qatar. Fifteen of the 32 spots have been filled, with 44 teams still competing for the final 17 places – and all but three of them will be settled over the coming days.

Europe

Who has qualified? Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Croatia, England, Germany.

Who can still qualify? Portugal, Turkey, Scotland, Poland, Italy, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Sweden, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic.

What’s the state of play for Uefa teams? There are 13 spots available at the World Cup for Uefa teams and 10 of them have gone to the group winners. With just three spots remaining for the 11 sides in the play-offs, at least one heavyweight is going to miss out.

Portugal did not win either of their last two group games – Serbia beat them in their final group game thanks to a last-minute goal from Aleksandar Mitrovic – and they have been consigned to the play-offs. To make matters worse, they have been drawn in the same pathway as the Euro 2020 winners, Italy – as well as North Macedonia and Turkey – which means that at least one of the past two European champions will not be in Qatar.

Russia’s disqualification means Poland have been given a bye and will play either Sweden or Czech Republic for a place at the World Cup finals. Meanwhile Wales or Austria will have to wait a little longer to discover their opponents as Scotland‘s game against Ukraine has been postponed with a new date yet to be confirmed.

Poland are one win from the finals after their play-off with Russia was canceled. Photograph: Zbigniew Meissner / EPA

South America

Who has qualified? Brazil, Argentina.

Who can still qualify? Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia.

What’s the state of play for Conmebol teams? All 10 teams in South America play in one big group, with the top four qualifying for the World Cup and the fifth-placed team going into a play-off against a country from the Asian federation.

Brazil and Argentina have booked their places at Qatar 2022. They sit first and second, respectively, in the South American qualifying group with no chance of dropping out of the automatic spots. However, with two rounds of games to go in the group, there is still plenty to play for. Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Bolivia all harbor hopes of a spot at the World Cup finals.

Ecuador are third in the group and are guaranteed at least a play ‑ off spot. If they win either of their last two group games – against Paraguay and Argentina – they will book an automatic spot at the World Cup. The big match in qualifying this week is between fourth-placed Uruguay and fifth ‑ placed Peru in Montevideo. One point separates the pair before the penultimate round of games.

Chile have reached the knockout stages in two of the past three World Cup tournaments but may miss out on Qatar. They are sixth in the table and face Brazil and Uruguay in their last two group matches. Colombia sit four points behind fifth-placed Peru but they have a more favorable end to qualifying, with games against Bolivia and Venezuela. Bolivia must win their last two games and hope other results go their way if they are to secure the play-off spot.

Brazil have breezed through their qualifying campaign.
Brazil have breezed through their qualifying campaign. Photograph: Nelson Almeida / AFP / Getty Images

North, Central America and Caribbean

Who has qualified? No one yet.

Who can still qualify? Canada, USA, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador.

What is the state of play for Concacaf teams? We are at the third round of qualifying, an eight-team league from which four teams can reach the World Cup – the top three in the league go directly to Qatar and the fourth-placed side plays off against the country that tops qualifying in Oceania .

Canada have been sensational in qualifying and are on the cusp of reaching the World Cup finals for only the second time in their history, after Mexico 1986. They are unbeaten in qualifying and are four points clear at the top of the table with three games to play .

USA and Mexico are second and third in the table respectively, and are well placed to clinch the two other automatic spots. They meet at the Azteca this week for what could be a crucial game. With Panama four points behind, neither side will want to lose in Mexico City. El Salvador still have a slim chance of sneaking into the play-off spot, but Costa Rica are the bigger threat to fourth-placed Panama.

Africa

Who has qualified? No one yet.

Who can still qualify? Egypt, Senegal, Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, DR Congo, Morocco, Mali, Tunisia.

What is the state of play for CAF teams? There are five spots available for African sides at the World Cup and qualifying has reached the winner-takes-all stage. The 10 group winners are playing each other in five two-legged ties over the next week.

The five ties have thrown up some major battles, notably a repeat of last month’s Africa Cup of Nations final in which Senegal defeated Egypt. Elsewhere, it’s Cameroon v Algeria, Ghana v Nigeria, DR Congo v Moroccoand Mali v Tunisia – so some big names will miss out on Qatar.

Senegal won the Africa Cup of Nations but they are not guaranteed a place in the World Cup yet.
Senegal won the Africa Cup of Nations but they are not guaranteed a place in the World Cup yet. Photograph: Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty Images

Asia

Who has qualified? Qatar, Iran, South Korea.

Who can still qualify? Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Iraq.

What is the state of play for AFC teams? Qatar have qualified automatically as hosts; four more teams will join them, and one team will go into a play-off game.

The long qualifying campaign in Asia is coming to an end. The 12 teams left in qualifying have been divided into two groups of six, with the top two from each group securing a spot at the World Cup and the two third-placed sides facing off for a chance to play the fifth-placed side in South American qualifying.

In Group A, Iran and South Korea have sewn up their spots at the World Cup finals. With two games to play UTOAND are in the driving seat to secure the play-off spot, but Lebanon and Iraq still have a chance of finishing third.

In the other group, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are fighting it out for the two automatic spots at the World Cup. Australia are third in the table but, with games to come against Japan and Saudi Arabia, they can still qualify automatically.

Oceania

Who has qualified? No one.

Who can still qualify? Cook Islands, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Papua New Guinea.

What is the state of play for OFC teams? Only one side from Oceania can qualify for the World Cup. To do so, they not only have to overcome the other sides from the region but also win a play-off against the fourth-placed team in Concacaf, a spot currently occupied by Panama .

Qualification in Oceania has been badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and travel restrictions, with several countries withdrawing. The final two rounds of qualifying are being played in Qatar, with New Zealand the team to beat. TheAll Whites have secured their place in the four-team final knockout stage with Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, Fiji and Cook Islands still in the hunt to join them.

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