d b a
Wednesday 17 November 2021
The Netherlands waited until late in its match against Norway on Tuesday in the European qualifiers for the World Cup finals in Qatar next year, in order to reserve a place in the next World Cup, to avoid the need to join the two European football giants, Italy and Portugal, in the playoffs playoff.
Less than 5 months after Italy won the European Nations Cup (Euro 2020), the blue team was forced to enter the play-off, after it failed to win during the last two rounds of the third group qualifiers.
Jorginho missed a penalty kick in the last minute to draw Italy 1-1 with its guest Switzerland, before the blue team continued to stumble with a 0-0 draw with its host Northern Ireland, to become second in the group standings, behind the Swiss team (the leaders), who snatched the qualification card for the World Cup. .
And the situation was more dramatic for Portugal, the European champion (Euro 2016), and the winner of the first edition of the European Nations League 3 years ago, where the comrades of the star Cristiano Ronaldo drew first with Ireland, before he failed to maintain a 1-0 lead against his guest team. Serbia, to lose to him 1/2 in the last seconds, to fall to second place in the standings of the first group, leaving the top for the Serbian team, which grabbed the ticket to the World Cup.
“Football has shown us time and time again that sometimes it is the most difficult paths that lead us to the most desired results,” Ronaldo said on social media after the loss.
“The goal of being in the 2022 World Cup is still very much alive and we know what we have to do to get there,” Ronaldo added.
The Portuguese star stressed, “There are no excuses. Portugal is on its way to Qatar.”
Ronaldo will be 37 by the time of the finals in a year, and although he can be said to be at the peak of his performances he once was, missing out on the chance to say goodbye to the World Cup will shock football fans.
Portugal cannot face Italy in the semi-finals of the playoffs, which will be drawn on November 26, as they are ranked alongside Scotland, Russia, Sweden and Wales, while Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia, the Czech Republic and Austria are in the other classification.
The 12 teams participating in the play-off are divided into 3 “tracks”, while the draw for the final round will be open – without guidance – which means that there may be a final between Portugal and Italy.
The presence of Polish national team star Robert Lewandowski, Wales winger and Real Madrid team Gareth Bale, and Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite being suspended in the semi-finals, will add a lot of luster to the European supplement.
Despite the excitement of the play-offs, which will take place between March 24 and 29, the Netherlands are happy to avoid risks, especially after they missed the 2018 finals in Russia.
Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk said: “It’s been a while since I’ve been with the Netherlands in a big tournament, so I’m glad I’m finally going to be in one of them again.”
The Netherlands join Spain, France (the defending champions), world number one Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, England and Germany in making the direct move to Qatar from the European qualifiers.
Brazil and Argentina, from South America, are the only other two teams so far worldwide, to have confirmed their presence in the finals other than the (host) Qatar team.