Qatar 2022 W/Cup Play-off: CR7 to face Turkey huddle

Qatar 2022 W/Cup Play-off: CR7 to face Turkey huddle


Could face Italy in a massive final clash

Scotland, Wales on course to meet in a ‘Home Nations derby final’

Cristiano Ronaldo will lead Portugal’s shattered World Cup dreams against a resurgent Turkey in one of the FIFA 2022 World Cup play-off matches.

This comes two weeks after the 36-year old striker watched helplessly as Portugal submitted to Serbia in a final group game with a last-minute header condemning the 2016 European champions to the play-offs.

The match against Turky will be played in Lisbon.

Should they go past Turkey, they are most likely to confront current European champions Italy.

But if they falter, it could be the final end to an illustrious International career for Cristiano Ronaldo who holds the record for the highest International goals – which stands at 115.

For some football lovers, that would be unthinkable.

“The World Cup would be the cherry on the top of the cake, like we say in Portugal, but what Cristiano is doing in football is unbelievable and he will forever be remembered in this sport,” says Thiago Mendes,  who, alongside Ronaldo, helped Portugal reach the UEFA EURO 2004 final and the Germany 2006 semi-finals.

“Without a doubt, we have a great group of players that make us, Portuguese, dream of big trophies.

Italian hurdle 
The year 2021 was meant to be the renaissance year for Italian football.

They won their second EURO championship in July and finished third in the UEFA Nations League afterwards.

In fact, the Azzuris were on course to advance to Qatar, but blew away their chances with shocking draws against Bulgaria, Switzerland and Northern Ireland.

That handed the initiative to the Swiss who leap-frogged them to book their place in 2022.

Coach Roberto Mancini now knows for the Italians, its a do or die moment.

“It’s a very difficult draw for us.

North Macedonia is a very good team, and if we win we have to play away,” he said minutes after the draw.

While dismantling the emerging Macedonians might be an easy pick, facing Portugal away with a Ronaldo bitterly determined for one last International hurray might be a tall order.

But never write off the Italians; they play best with their backs against the wall.

Home nation derby

In other draws, Home nations Scotland and Wales could meet in an all-British classic.

But to make this a reality, they must first beat Ukraine and Austria respectively – both British teams have home advantage in their favour plus the passionate support of fans.

One thing is certain though – only one of two British nations will be in Qatar – plus England.

“We’ve given ourselves a great opportunity.

We’ve worked ever so hard to finish second and get that home draw.

We’ve got everything to play for,” said Welsh manager Robert Page.

The last time both nations met in a decisive World Cup qualifier was the cracker at Anfield in 1977 which the Scots won.

In other European play-off matches, Russia will face bitter rivals Poland, while Sweden will try their luck against the Czech Republic.

Semi-finals due to be played 24 March, the final on the 29 March.

Qatar 2022 W/Cup Play-off: CR7 to face Turkey huddle

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