World Cup Play-offs Produce Nightmare Draws

England have already made it to the 2022 World Cup finals, so no play-offs for them. That’s not the case for Scotland and Wales, and only one of them can make it to Qatar. The same applies to Portugal and European champions Italy.

The draw for the play-offs was made on Friday November 26 and it’s not gone well for some countries at all. There are 12 teams left and just three qualification places remain. Let’s look at how the British countries fared and the latest betting odds.

Scotland begin with a semi-final at home to Ukraine. The Scots comfortably finished second in their group, seven points clear of Israel but four behind Denmark. They beat the Danes in their final game and ended with four wins and a draw from their five home games. A home semi-final will suit them perfectly and they are 7/5 at Unibet to make the play-off final.

Ukraine cannot be underestimated though. They finished second behind France but were undefeated on their travels. Ukraine are 2/1 at Boylesports to beat Scotland but perhaps a bet on a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes might be an idea. Five of their eight qualifiers ended with that score and it’s 5/1 at Bet365 on that being the score next March.

It would have been good to see both British sides having a chance of making the finals. However, if Wales beat Austria at home, they’ll host the Scotland v Ukraine winners on home soil. Wales are 7/4 at Bet365 to win their semi-final. They have an excellent home record, so they look a good bet.

Austria are 6/4 favourites at Unibet which is a bit surprising. They finished fourth in Scotland’s group and on the road only beat Moldova and the Faroe Islands. Their last two away games against Wales have both been lost. Take that 7/4 on Wales as that won’t last long.

William Hill have Austria as the 9/4 favourites to win this Path. Wales are 5/2 at BetVictor and Scotland 11/4 at Parimatch. With two home games, Wales look likely to end that long wait to play in the World Cup Finals.

A World Cup without Cristiano Ronaldo? It’s a possibility after Portugal ended up in the same quartet as Italy. The Portuguese side blew their hopes of automatic qualification by earning just one point from their final two games. A last-minute goal from Mitrovic saw Serbia finish top not Portugal.

They host Turkey in their semi-final and that’s not a guaranteed win. The Turks only lost one qualifier and that was away in the Netherlands. All their other away games were won, and they’d have finished top but for two home draws. Portugal are 1/2 at Boylesports to win in 90 minutes. Turkey are 13/2 and a draw is 7/2 with the same bookies.

European champions Italy will bid to avoid missing a second successive World Cup Finals. They only conceded two goals in their group but still finished second behind Switzerland. Only one of their last four games has been won. They host North Macedonia in their semi-final. Their opponents won away in Germany in their group but had a disappointing Euro 2020. Italy are 1/5 at Bet365 to beat North Macedonia.

That would set up the final away at either Portugal or Turkey. If it is Portugal v Italy, then it’s a match worthy of the final itself. Portugal and Italy are 1/1 at William Hill to win Path C. Who’d bet against a bit of Ronaldo magic seeing his team through to the finals?