A dramatic draw for the World Cup 2022 playoffs landed Wales and Scotland in one path and Italy and Portugal in another – but when are the games?
The 2022 World Cup play-off draw…
Scotland and Wales could face off for a place at next year’s World Cup should they defeat Ukraine and Austria in their respective play-off semi-finals.
Both nations were drawn in Path A, with Scotland facing Ukraine at Hampden Park and Wales welcoming Austria to Cardiff.
Italy and Portugal were drawn in Path C, meaning they could face one another in the final game and now cannot both qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar.
How do the play-offs work?
The play-offs take place from March 24 to 29, with 10 group runners-up joined by the two best group winners from the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly as group winners, nor entered the play-offs already as group runners-up.
These 12 teams will be drawn into three play-off paths for one-off semi-finals and a final. The three path winners qualify for the World Cup.
When are the play-offs?
Scotland vs Ukraine – Thursday, March 24 (7.45pm kick-off) – live on Sky Sports
Wales vs Austria – Thursday, March 24 (7.45pm kick-off) – live on Sky Sports
Russia vs Poland – Thursday, March 24 (5.00pm kick-off) – live on Sky Sports
Sweden vs Czech Republic – Thursday, March 24 (7.45pm kick-off) – live on Sky Sports
Italy vs North Macedonia – Thursday, March 24 (7.45pm kick-off) – live on Sky Sports
Portugal vs Turkey – Thursday, March 24 (7.45pm kick-off) – live on Sky Sports
Play-off finals: Tuesday, March 29 – live on Sky Sports
Can Wales play Scotland in a final?
Very much so.
That tantalising winner-takes-all home nations clash could take place in Cardiff on Tuesday, March 29, if Wales beat Austria and Scotland beat Ukraine. That game would be live on Sky Sports.
What is the World Cup format and schedule?
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will feature 32 teams in eight groups of four.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stage, which will run over a 12-day period and see winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16.
Matches will only be assigned to particular venues after the finals draw, so organisers can choose optimal kick-off times to suit television audiences in different countries, as well as supporters out in Qatar.
The finals draw is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 3, after the March window for international fixtures.
Unlike at Euro 2020, there will be a third-place play-off game on December 17.
Group stage: November 21- December 2
Round of 16: December 3-6
Quarter-finals: December 9/10
Semi-finals: December 13/14
Final: December 18
Key World Cup, Premier League, Scottish Premiership dates
March 24-29 – World Cup play-offs.
April 3 – World Cup draw.
July 30 – Scottish Premiership season starts along with the EFL Championship, League One and League Two.
August 6 – Premier League season starts.
November 12-13 – Final round of Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership matches before the World Cup.
November 21 – World Cup starts.
December 2 – Final set of group stage matches.
December 3-6 – The round of 16 starts.
December 9-10 – The quarter-finals.
December 10 – The Championship resumes.
December 13-14 – World Cup semi-finals.
December 17 – The Scottish Premiership resumes.
December 18 – World Cup final.
December 26 – The Premier League resumes.