The chances of the Swiss to qualify directly for the 2022 World Cup are quite intact. And yet it is more likely that the national team will have to go through the playoffs. Who could Murat Yakin’s team meet?
Only the first of the ten groups in the World Cup qualification secures a direct ticket for the World Cup in Qatar. The runners-up have to go to the playoffs, where there are also two group winners from the Nations League who failed in the World Cup qualifiers.
Switzerland is currently in second place in its group C. After the victory in Lithuania on Tuesday, this place is already safe. Of course, the national team would be only too happy to make the direct World Cup qualification, but it will probably need an away win against European champions Italy in November. Or, if you make up ground in terms of goal difference (Italy is currently at an advantage with two goals), then a draw might be enough for first place.
However. In this country you have to assume that it will end up in second place. And Switzerland has to fight for the Qatar ticket in the playoffs. In March 2022, twelve nations will play for the last three European World Cup places. The teams are divided into three play-off ways, each with a semi-final and a final – each in a single game. The winners of the three paths qualify for the World Cup.
Possible high profile in the playoffs
According to the current status of the World Cup qualifying, the following teams would be in the playoffs as runners-up in the group: Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Norway, Croatia, Poland and Romania. However, there could still be shifts and Sweden, Serbia, Russia, Albania, Bosnia, Finland or Turkey could still end up in second place. In addition, Austria and Wales should make the leap into the playoffs through the Nations League back door.
Good for Switzerland: Thanks to their scoring points in qualifying, the Nati would probably be one of the seeded teams in the event of a playoff entry and at least avoid the best teams in the semifinals. Still, it wasn’t going to be easy. Six of the following nine nations are likely to be among the unseeded playoff teams: Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Wales, Norway, Albania, Scotland and Turkey.
The playoffs would be anything but a picnic for the national team, especially since the semi-final duel would be followed by a final against an even better opponent – for example Spain or Portugal. The national team is therefore well advised to give full throttle in the last two games against Italy and Bulgaria so that in the end it might still be enough for first place and direct qualification for the finals.