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Revealed: The chances of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal facing Italy in World Cup playoffs

Revealed: The chances of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal facing Italy in World Cup playoffs

 

Italy’s shock failure to secure an automatic spot at next year’s World Cup means that a showdown between two of the top nations in world football could lie in store in the playoffs.

Azzurri come up short

Roberto Mancini’s men returned to action a short time ago.

In their tenth and final outing on the road to Qatar, the Azzurri made the trip to Northern Ireland, aware that a victory was a must.

Ahead of Monday’s kick-offs, Italy sat in top spot in the Group C table. 2nd-placed Switzerland, however, sat level on points with the European champions, with a meeting with struggling Bulgaria on the agenda.

And, as alluded to above, when all was said and done, it was in fact the Swiss who booked their spot on the plane to the most prestigious international tournament in football, owing to a 4-0 victory.

Italy, on the other hand, came up short in concerning fashion at Windsor Park, stuttering to a 0-0 stalemate, their 4th of the qualification campaign.

Heavyweights to collide?

The champions of Europe, however, were of course not the only side to be ousted from top spot in their group on the final day of World Cup qualifying over the course of the last 24 hours.

The other? Portugal.

A last-gasp header from Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic saw Fernando Santos’ men lose out on an automatic spot in Qatar on Sunday night.

So, could Italy and Portugal be on a collision course in next year’s playoffs?

Well, though unlikely, the possibility cannot be ruled out.

As part of the new World Cup playoff format, four teams across a trio of groups will vie it out in initial ‘semi-final’ ties, before a finale between the victor of each decides which nation takes their place at the 2022 showpiece.

Owing to their respective spots in Pot A, Italy and Portugal cannot meet in the semi-finals.

However, if both, as expected, manage to emerge victorious from their first fixtures, a 20% chance currently exists that they could meet in one of the three ‘finals’.

Read more:

How Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic trolled Cristiano Ronaldo after win over Portugal

Tottenham’s Harry Kane makes England history (twice) as Rooney record inches closer in San Marino rout


This article was edited by Ben Browning.