After narrowly missing out on automatically qualifying to next year’s World Cup in Qatar, Italy face a daunting task in winning their play-off group. The Azzurri drew their last two games against Switzerland and Northern Ireland which helped Switzerland advance on goal differential.

The draw was completed today for the 12 European nations that still have hope of making it to the World Cup and failing to finish first in their qualifying groups. Italy was placed in Path C, alongside Turkey, North Macedonia, and Portugal.

It is safe to say this draw turned out the worst possible result for neutral football fans as Ronaldo will miss what would likely be his last World Cup campaign or the Azzuri will miss a second consecutive World Cup for the first time in their history after winning Euro 2020.

The last meeting between Italy and Portugal took place in a UEFA Nations League group stage match that ended in a 0-0 draw on November 17th, 2019.

So far thirteen nations have already secured their place at next year’s world cup. Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Croatia, England and Germany all finished first in their qualifying group whereas Argentina and Brazil placed in the top two of the CONMEBOL qualifiers.

The European play-off semifinals will be played on March 24th, 2022, and the finals will take place five days later on March 29th. The venue of the Path C final would be in either Portugal or Turkey as determined in the draw.

Back in November 2017, Sweden broke the hearts of Italian football supporters as their side defeated the Azzurri 1-0 in aggregate to book their place in the 2018 World Cup, where they reached the round of 16.

After Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Roberto Mancini took over the men’s program in May 2018 and transformed them into one of the best national teams in Europe after last summer’s Euro 2020 victory. Italy will hope to add their name to the list of qualified nations and their first task in doing so is to defeat North Macedonia next March.