The UEFA qualifying play-offs for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are approaching. It’s therefore somewhat feasible to make accurate predictions. This is the first of three articles that will predict what the final three European teams to clinch their spot in Qatar will be. Path A consists of Austria, Scotland, Ukraine, and Wales. Only one will reach this year’s World Cup, though.
UEFA Qualifying Play-offs: Path A Predictions
Scotland’s Penalty Prowess to Reign Supreme
Following Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian Association of Football submitted a request to FIFA to postpone their match against Scotland. This has been confirmed. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the kick-off date, there’s little reason to believe that it will affect the result of the match.
Scotland were undefeated at home in World Cup qualification. The only home match they dropped points in was against Austria, and they even managed to beat Denmark 2-0. However, the Danes had already secured qualification, so the result should be taken with a grain of salt, even though it’s very impressive.
Ukraine went undefeated throughout all eight World Cup qualification matches, but six of them were draws and five specifically finished 1-1. It seems probable that the scoreline will make a return in this match. Scotland’s recent penalty shootout record is solid, defeating Israel and Serbia on their way to Euro 2020. As a result, they should be favoured in this hypothetical shootout against Ukraine.
A Hard–Fought But Routine Win for Wales, Unless Austria Find Their Euro Form
Wales were undefeated at home in World Cup qualifying. The only disappointing result they suffered was a goalless draw against Estonia. That’s an acceptable one-time slip-up, though. Additionally, the Dragons picked up a solid win against the Czech Republic and a respectable draw versus Belgium.
Austria have been straight-up bad in qualifying, losing 5-2 against Israel, 1-0 against Scotland in Vienna with fans, and 4-0 against Denmark. Wales are simply a bit better than Austria now, especially in Cardiff. There’s a possibility that Austria will find a little of the solid form they showed at the Euros, but it’s not guaranteed. Either way, Wales should be able to win.
Wales to Win Path A
A mouthwatering British derby in the final. Not in the sense that it will produce many goals, but that it will be a very fierce affair. Scotland’s away record is average. Not bad, not great. They needed a penalty to score against this struggling Austrian side, dropped points against Israel, and it took them almost 86 minutes to find the back of the net against the Faroe Islands.
On paper, Wales and Scotland are evenly matched. We must look elsewhere to distinguish them. At their Elo ratings, for example, where Wales is ranked a little higher. This, combined with home advantage, means they should be marginally favoured over Scotland. In Glasgow, it could be another story, but given the aforementioned reasons, Wales should be able to win and make a return to the World Cup for the first time since 1958.