Zurich, December 8
After missing out on the 2018 World Cup, Italy have been handed a challenging path to the 2022 tournament in Qatar. The four-time world champions were drawn in a qualifying group with Switzerland, who made it to the last three World Cups and were the highest-ranked team outside of the top seeds.
Italy’s failure in the 2018 playoffs cost FIFA around $100 million in lost television revenue. Only the first-placed teams qualify automatically.
“I think it will be a fight between us and Switzerland,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said.
Italy will contest the Nations League finals next year, meaning they have only four opponents in Group C: Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. World Cup holders France, Belgium and Spain are also vying for UEFA’s newest title next year.
France are in Group D with Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kazakhstan.
Germany face five opponents in Group J, but only North Macedonia qualified for the European Championship next year, unlike Romania, Iceland, Armenia and Liechtenstein. “We are going into the race as the big favourites,” said Joachim Loew, who remains Germany coach despite recent poor results.
The Netherlands, another powerhouse to miss out on the 2018 World Cup, are in Group G with Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar. — AP/PTI
Euro groups for 2022
- Group A Portugal, Serbia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
- Group B Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
- Group C Italy, Switzerland, N. Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
- Group D France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
- Group E Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
- Group F Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
- Group G Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
- Group H Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
- Group I England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
- Group J Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein