Wednesday, June 7

Cristiano Ronaldo’s route to the 2022 World Cup: Portugal will face Turkey and possibly Italy

The way is set: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal know exactly what they must do to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. But it won’t be easy for the 36-year-old superstar to qualify for what will likely be his last World Cup.

After the European playoff draw, Portugal will need to survive two games if it wants to advance to its sixth consecutive World Cup. The first is against Turkey, No. 37 in the world ranking, on March 24 or 25. Overcome the Turks and a showdown against the winner of the match Italy vs. North Macedonia waits just five days later.

The good news for Ronaldo fans is that their team will play both games at home. If they lose either match, it would be the first time Portugal has missed a World Cup since France 1998.

MORE: The other clashes in the European World Cup playoffs

Playoff semi-final: Portugal vs. Turkey

Date European Playoff Path C Semifinals Time (ET) TV channels Stream
Thursday 24 March Semi # 1: Italy vs. North macedonia 2:45 pm TBD TBD
Thursday 24 March Semi # 2: Portugal vs. Turkey 2:45 pm TBD TBD

It has been almost 14 years since these two nations met in a competitive showdown, but history clearly favors the Portuguese. In the five clashes in official competitions, Portugal has always led the way.

MORE: Which teams have qualified for the 2022 World Cup?

They have also met in three friendlies in their history and their most recent match was one of those exhibitions in June 2012. That result should have Portugal fans on high alert: Turkey entered the Estadio da Luz and came out winning 3-1. in Portugal’s last set-up before Euro 2012. The Portuguese rallied to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2012, where they lost to Spain on penalties.

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Turkey, which has a population of over 83 million (Portugal’s population is 10 million), has only played in two World Cups in its history (1954 and 2002) and has dropped to No. 37 in the FIFA world rankings. But he gave Holland a run for its money in Group G of European classification, finishing just two points behind Oranje in the final standings, thus qualifying for the playoffs. It was 6W-1L-3D, beating the Netherlands 4-2 at home and losing 6-1 in Amsterdam.

You never know what you’ll get out of Turkey – they may look like world leaders one day, and they may be disappointing to others. The truth is that they will be brave and difficult to take down, risking counterattacks and set pieces. The pressure will fall directly on Portugal at home.

Playoff final: Portugal vs. Italy or North Macedonia

Date End of route C of the European playoffs Time (ET) TV channels Stream
Tuesday March 29 Portugal / Turkey vs. Italy / N. Macedonia 2:45 pm TBD TBD

If Portugal can get past Turkey, then a showdown against Italy or North Macedonia awaits for a ticket to Qatar 2022. This will also be played on Portuguese soil, and in addition to the home advantage, Portugal will benefit from avoiding travel.

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A match between Portugal (No. 8) against defending European champion Italy (No. 6) for a place in the World Cup would be epic. Either nation that misses Qatar 2022 would be news.

MORE: Why is Portugal forced to play in the playoffs?

Italians have the advantage in official competitions with a record of 5W-2L-1D. Since the turn of the century, Italy have also won four friendlies against Portugal, but their last meeting in a major competition was in the UEFA Nations League with two games played in 2018. Both were tough matters, with Portugal excluding Italy both times. 1-0 and 0-0.

But if North Macedonia, No. 67 in the ranking, surprises Italy in the semifinals, they will not be intimidated by a trip to Portugal after playing in their first major international tournament at Euro 2021. They also tied Portugal 0- 0 on a friendly trip to Lisbon in May 2012. Portugal narrowly won 1-0 in the only other friendly match in 2003.

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