Tuesday 09 November 2021, 08:00

Crunch time in Europe

  • Last two matchdays coming up in World Cup qualifying

  • Germany and Denmark already qualified

  • Still 11 European spots available at the tournament

The group stage of UEFA zone FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying comes to an end in November on completion of Matchdays 9 and 10.

Alongside four-time winners Germany, Denmark have also already reserved their place at next year’s showpiece, leaving another eight automatic qualifying berths for the continent’s remaining group winners. Furthermore, the ten group runners-up and the two best-placed teams from the UEFA Nations League that did not finish in the top two of their respective qualifying sections will earn a spot in the play-offs.

FIFA.com takes a closer look at the final rounds of fixtures.

Match schedule

Matchday 9 Thursday 11 November Azerbaijan ¬– Luxembourg, Armenia – North Macedonia, Russia – Cyprus, Georgia – Sweden, Slovakia – Slovenia, Romania – Iceland, Germany – Liechtenstein, Malta – Croatia, Greece – Spain, Republic of Ireland – Portugal Friday 12 November Moldova – Scotland, Italy – Switzerland, Hungary – San Marino, Northern Ireland – Lithuania, Austria – Israel, England – Albania, Andorra – Poland, Denmark – Faroe Islands Saturday 13 November Turkey – Gibraltar, Wales – Belarus, Belgium – Estonia, France – Kazakhstan, Montenegro – Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Finland, Norway – Latvia Matchday 10 Sunday 14 November Croatia – Russia, Slovenia – Cyprus, Malta – Slovakia, Liechtenstein – Romania, North Macedonia – Iceland, Armenia – Germany, Spain – Sweden, Greece – Kosovo, Luxembourg – Republic of Ireland , Portugal – Serbia Monday 15 November Scotland – Denmark, Switzerland – Bulgaria, San Marino – England, Northern Ireland – Italy, Israel – Faroe Islands, Austria – Moldova, Albania – Andorra, Poland – Hungary Tuesday 16 November Bosnia and Herzegovina – Ukraine, Wales – Belgium, Czech Republic – Estonia, Gibraltar – Latvia, Montenegro – Turkey, Netherlands – Norway, Finland – France

Match in focus: Italy – Switzerland

Mamma Mia! – excitement guaranteed

While the shock of failing to qualify for Russia 2018 clearly rankled with Italy for a long time, they bounced back in style to win UEFA EURO 2020. Under head coach Roberto Mancini, the Azzurri have been in dazzling form and have climbed up to fourth place in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. However, in order to avoid another nerve-wracking World Cup qualifying campaign, Italy must avoid defeat at home to Switzerland in Rome. Both teams have been rock solid defensively so far, each conceding just a single goal in the qualifiers.

Favourites under pressure Portugal are currently behind an unbeaten Serbia side in Group A, although Cristiano Ronaldo and Co do have a game in hand and will go top if they win that fixture against Republic of Ireland.

Spain, by way of contrast, have played as many games as Group B leaders Sweden but have two points fewer after six matches, meaning Luis Enrique’s charges have to take maximum points from their last two assignments.

Elsewhere, Norway could set up a final-day showdown with the Netherlands in Group G, but first need to beat Latvia at home. For their part, the Oranje will be doing all they can to avoid sitting out a second successive global showpiece after their failure to reach Russia 2018. As runners-up in 2018, Croatia will be keen to avoid the play-offs, but to do so will need to make up a two-point deficit on leaders Russia in their last two games. The current situation in each group:

Facts and figures

0 – Can Denmark extend their run of eight consecutive clean sheets? The Danes are the only team yet to concede a goal in this qualifying campaign, followed by Italy and Switzerland, who have shipped just one each.

4 – Scotland have climbed into a hugely promising position in Group F on the back of four straight wins, giving themselves a good chance of reaching the play-offs. Victory over Moldova would allow them to dream of a first World Cup appearance since 1998.

29 – The Netherlands have been the most free-scoring side in qualifying, with 29 goals from eight games. Memphis Depay is the team’s – and also the continent’s – leading marksman with nine. Top goalscorers in UEFA World Cup Qualifying: 1. Memphis Depay (Netherlands) – 9 Goals 2. Eran Zahavi (Israel) – 8 Goals 3. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia) – 7 Goals 4. Robert Lewandowski (Poland) – 6 Goals 5. Teemu Pukki (Finland) – 6 Goals

36 – Switzerland have only lost one of their last 36 World Cup qualifying games.

115 – Portuguese fans will be hoping that Ronaldo can extend his record as the all-time top scorer in men’s international football. The 36-year-old presently has 115 goals for his country, having recently hit a hat-trick against Luxembourg, and will be doing all he can to lead his side to the World Cup.