World Cup: Scotland and Wales on potential collision course

27 November 2021 05:25:00 GMTPlus11
Steve Clarke's Scotland face a tough playoff draw

Both Scotland and Wales will look to make the most of their home advantage in March's World Cup 2022 playoffs, with Steve Clarke's side set to face Ukraine, while Wales will welcome Austria to Cardiff.

Sadly for fans of both nations, if they come through their semi-final fixtures, they will meet in Cardiff for a spot in Qatar.

Scotland have not featured at a World Cup since 1998, while Wales' last appearance came in 1958 years ago and at least one of the pair will see their wait continue.

The same can be said of Italy and Portugal, who will meet in a playoff final if they come through their respective ties against North Macedonia and Turkey.

Russia and Poland will also do battle next year, while the Czech Republic will travel to Sweden.

Both the semi-finals and finals will be played over one leg, with the semis on 24th March and the final on 29th March and you can find All You Need to Know here.

Home draw key for British teams

Scotland and Wales were seeded for Friday's draw, meaning they were assured of a home tie in the semi-finals. The winner of Wales' meeting with Austria will then host either Scotland or Ukraine, and Robert Page's side will fancy their chances if they can make it to the final.

Wales last met Austria in a World Cup qualifier in 2017, coming out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from Ben Woodburn. They are unbeaten in four games against Franco Foda's men and Page believes his team have a great chance of ending their wait for a place in the World Cup finals.

He told reporters: "We've worked ever so hard to finish second and get that home draw. We've got everything to play for."

We are confident and positive, especially in the slightly more difficult moments.

Roberto Mancini

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Wales are 17/10 to win in front of their fans, with the draw 12/5, while Austria are 31/20 to get the job done on their travels.

Scotland will be waiting for Wales should everything go to plan, but Steve Clarke's side arguably have the tougher tie.

Former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko had got his team firing and his successor Oleksandr Petrakov has continued along that thread, with Ukraine unbeaten in seven matches.

While they failed to get past England at Euro 2020, Ukraine picked up two draws against France during qualifying for the World Cup, and Clarke believes they are the toughest team his side could have been drawn against.

Speaking after Friday's draw, Clarke said: "Ukraine is up there with the toughest [draw], and then from that, we know Wales have done really well recently. We know the Austrians well.

"It's something for everyone to focus on and think about over the winter months and look forward to some good games in March, hopefully.

"We have shown over the course of the play-offs for Euro 2020 that we can handle the tension for semi-final and final games, and hopefully, we can prove that again in March."

Scotland will need to be at their best at Hampden Park, and they are 7/5 to win in Glasgow, with the draw in 90 minutes 12/5, while Ukraine are 15/8 to move one step closer to qualification.

Mancini upbeat despite difficult draw

Italy boss Roberto Mancini concedes Friday's draw could have been better for the Azzurri, but the former Manchester City coach has total confidence his team can book their spot in Qatar.

While Mancini's men should have too much for North Macedonia, they face a difficult away trip to either Turkey or Portugal in theie final.

With Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo desperate to play in another World Cup, Italy will need to be at their best in March, but Mancini is unfazed by the challenge.

He told RAI2: "It could have been a little better, that's true. It's clear that both us and Portugal have to beat Macedonia and Turkey.

"It's one leg, which always provides difficulties. We are confident and positive, especially in the slightly more difficult moments."

Both Italy and Portugal are fancied to come through their respective semi-finals, with the European champions 1/4 to win, while Fernando Santos' troops are 2/5 to beat Turkey on their own patch.

You can keep up to date with all the playoff latest by following our World Cup qualification tracker.

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