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 third and final article that will predict what the final three European teams to clinch their spot in Qatar will be. Path C consists of Portugal, Turkey, Italy, and North Macedonia. Two powerhouses, but only one of them can make it. However, Turkey and North Macedonia have proven they can pull off upsets.
UEFA Qualifying Play-offs: Path C Predictions
Italy to Manage Hard-Earned Win Against North Macedonia
Italy v North Macedonia is complicated to predict. On paper, Italy should be able to win it quite comfortably in Palermo, but in World Cup qualifying they dropped points at home to Bulgaria and Switzerland, and away against Northern Ireland. Also, North Macedonia have proven to be a competent away side by recently winning against Germany and demolishing Armenia 5-0. Their Euro performance indicates that display should be taken with a grain of salt, though, even though they definitely defeated Germany deservedly on the day.
North Macedonia’s motivation to make their World Cup debut will be through the roof, but that alone is not enough to grant them a win. Italy should be able to be victorious. They have better players and are reigning European champions. Given Italy’s recent qualification struggles and North Macedonia’s motivation, the match may be tied after 90 minutes. However, the Azzurri should still be able to find the winning goal during extra time through one of their many offensively competent players.
Portugal to Get Their Act Together and Beat Turkey
Portugal against Turkey is also complicated to predict. Portugal are better on paper, but they’ve suffered many poor and underwhelming results in World Cup qualification. Inconsistency plagues Turkey. Ay-Yıldızlılar beat France en route to Euro 2020, only to lose every match at the final tournament. Meanwhile, A Seleção had a respectable campaign, despite losing to Belgium in the last 16. Similarly, Turkey got a phenomenal start to World Cup qualification, only to miss out on a direct spot to Qatar after several disappointing results.
This match could finish 3-0 Portugal just as well as Turkey could win it 2-1. The Turks have that ‘X-factor.’ However, Portugal should be able to get their act together, especially at home, and see it through. They have a superior squad and were quite unlucky in qualification. Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-minute winner at Serbia was wrongfully disallowed. Portugal would’ve qualified directly had it not been for that.
Italy to Win Path C at Portugal’s Expense
It’s baffling that Portugal or Italy won’t reach the World Cup. That’s the price they pay by not winning their qualification groups, though. The Italians even run the risk of missing consecutive World Cups for the first time in their history.
Both sides have struggled recently, dropping points against sides they should be beating. The two have similarly powerful squads and evenly matched Elo ratings. It seems probable the match will be tied after 90 minutes and extra time, with their recent results taken into account. Italy proved to be good at penalties at Euro 2020. As a result, they should be favoured to beat Portugal in the shootout.