The FIFA World Cup qualification round will commence in Europe in March 2021. The draws for the qualification stage of the competition was done today, December 7, 2020.
The FIFA World Cup qualification round will be played among 55 European countries that have been grouped into 10 groups. The continent is expected to produce 13 teams that will play in the biggest football event in the world which will be hosted in Qatar between November and December 2022.
The tournament which comes up once in four years is always held between April and June but the forthcoming edition will be held from November to December 2022 to avoid the hot weather that usually dominates the Middle East between March and July of every year.
How will the FIFA World Cup qualification round work?
As stated earlier, 55 European football teams are involved in the qualification round. The teams have been grouped into 10 groups. 5 of the groups consist of 5 teams each while the other 5 groups consist of 6 teams each.
All the teams in each group will play against each other between March and November 2021. At the end of the qualification matches, the teams that top each of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
While the teams that finish second in each of the 10 groups will be grouped into three groups for play-offs. The 10 teams will be joined by two teams that earned the highest points in the 2020-2021 European Nations League (if the two teams have not already qualified by finishing top of their groups in the FIFA World Cup qualification stage).
At the end of the playoffs which is scheduled to take place in March 2022, the three teams that top the three playoff groups will automatically join the first 10 qualified teams.
Below is the FIFA World Cup qualification draw in full for European countries:
Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein
Below is the schedule for the qualification round and the playoffs:
Matchday 1: March 24-25, 2021
Matchday 2: March 27-28, 2021
Matchday 3: March 30-31, 2021
Matchday 4: September 1-2, 2021
Matchday 5: September 4-5, 2021
Matchday 6: September 7-8, 2021
Matchday 7: October 8-9, 2021
Matchday 8: October 11-12, 2021
Matchday 9: November 11-13, 2021
Matchday 10: November 14-16, 2021
Play-offs: March 24, 25, 28, 29, 2022