FIFA World Cup qualifier playoffs 2022: Teams, schedule, matchups for final spot in Qatar Group B – Sporting News

After the 2022 World Cup draw, there are only three remaining playoff berths left to be decided in June. 
Two of them will come from the intercontinental playoffs between a handful of qualifying hopefuls: Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Australia vs. UAE winner on June 7 will face Peru on June 13, while Costa Rica and New Zealand have a winner-take-all showdown on June 14.
The third World Cup qualifier will come from the delayed European playoff path which saw three teams begin with dreams of qualifying and only two teams still in with a chance to claim the lone spot.
MORE: USA and England set for Black Friday showdown in 2022 World Cup
From a competitive soccer perspective, there were two byproducts from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Russia was disqualified from World Cup qualifying, while the Ukraine’s participation was postponed until June.
The postponement of Ukraine’s playoff bracket (Playoff Path A) came after the Ukrainian Football Association petitioned European governing body UEFA and world governing body FIFA with a request to push the matches from their original March dates.
UEFA, along with the support of Ukraine’s opponent Scotland, worked to postpone the fixtures and reschedule the matches to allow for Ukraine to find a way to prepare a team and ease the burden on the Ukraine FA. Many members of Ukraine’s national team play in the Ukrainian league, which has been paused for a while as a result of the war.
“Football is inconsequential amid conflict, but we have conveyed the strong sense of solidarity communicated to us by Scotland fans and citizens in recent days,” read a statement from the Scottish FA in light of Ukraine’s request to postpone. “The Scotland Men’s and Women’s National Teams stand in solidarity with our fellow participants from Ukraine’s football community.
“A match, no matter how significant on the pitch, feels unimportant right now, but we intend to express our friendship and unity when we face each other next month. In the meantime we pray for your wellbeing and the safety of all those people needlessly suffering. Until we meet, we send our love.”
WORLD CUP DRAW BREAKDOWNS:
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

Ukraine’s request was ultimately granted by UEFA, and the necessary matches were postponed to June following the conclusion of most European club seasons.
The semifinal between Wales and Austria went on as scheduled in March, as Wales progressed past Austria on the back of two Gareth Bale goals.
The Scotland vs. Ukraine was scheduled for June 1, and after a 3-1 win in Glasgow, Ukraine will be the team traveling to face Wales on June 5 for a winner-take-all World Cup playoff match. 
The format for UEFA World Cup qualifying in the 2022 cycle is quite different from UEFA qualifying in the past though the number of total berths (13) is the same.
With the rise of the UEFA Nations League, the European governing body instituted a new World Cup qualifying format that attached value to UEFA Nations League performance and also increased the level of excitement.
The World Cup qualifying group stage in Europe consisted of all 55 European member nations, and it produced 10 group winners who all qualified automatically for the World Cup. There were still three UEFA World Cup spots left, however, and a playoff would decide the three nations to earn those remaining spots.
In the past, UEFA playoffs consisted of two-legged matchups drawn at random, with the winners advancing directly to the World Cup. In the 2022 cycle, UEFA brought 12 teams into the playoff — 10 group stage runners-up, plus two qualifiers from UEFA Nations League play — and split them up into three four-team mini-brackets (or “paths”) with the winner of each of the three paths reaching the World Cup.
Two of the three mini-brackets have been played to their conclusion: Poland received a bye past Russia and then defeated Sweden. Portugal secured the other position, knocking off Turkey and North Macedonia. Italy, shockingly, was eliminated in a stunning loss to North Macedonia.
Wales (which eliminated Austria) and Ukraine (which knocked off Scotland) will meet for the final berth on June 5.
MORE WORLD CUP 2022:
Full draw results | TV schedule | Latest news

The winner of the Wales vs. Ukraine playoff will enter the 2022 World Cup into Group B, as established during the draw ceremony on April 1. The other teams in the group are England, the United States, and Iran.
If 18th-ranked Wales is the team to progress, it would mean that all four group participants would be ranked inside the top 21 of the FIFA world rankings (England is 5th, USA is 15th, Iran is 21st). Meanwhile, Ukraine is ranked No. 27.
MORE: Full 2022 FIFA World Cup match schedule
WORLD CUP DRAW BREAKDOWNS:
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

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