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Qatar 2022: Tricky qualification route for Three Lions

 

England will face familiar qualifying foes Poland on the road to the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
The Poles, whose star striker Robert Lewandowski has arguably been the best player in the world in 2020, have faced the Three Lions in qualifying for the 1974, 1990, 1994, 2006 and 2014 World Cups, as well as taking on England in the finals in Mexico in 1986.
England and Poland also met in qualifying for the 1992 and 2000 European Championships.
Gareth Southgate’s men have also been drawn against Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino in matches which will be played between March and November next year.
Scotland are up against Denmark, Austria, Israel, the Faroe Islands and Moldova in Group F as they seek a first World Cup qualification since 1998.
The Scots lost to Israel in a Nations League match last month.
Wales have a tricky group with the world’s No 1 ranked team Belgium, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Estonia.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been placed in five-team groups.
The Republic face reigning European champions Portugal, as well as Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan in Group A, while Northern Ireland face a tough group against Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Lithuania.
The Republic faced Portugal in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, but their most recent match against them was a 5-1 friendly defeat just before the 2014 finals.
England and Scotland, in six-team groups, are set to play three qualifiers in March, three more in September, two in October and two in November.
Nations League finalists Belgium, Italy, Spain and France were placed in five-team groups to enable them to complete that competition next October.
The 10 group winners qualify for the finals which will be played in November and December 2022, to avoid the summer heat in Qatar, with a further three teams qualifying via the play-offs to be played in March 2022.
The play-offs will be a 12-team tournament comprised of the 10 group runners-up plus the two highest-ranked teams from the Nations League who did not finish in the top two of any group.
The 12 teams will be split into three paths, with the winner of each securing qualification.
*Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
*Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
*Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
*Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia, Kazakhstan
*Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
*Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
*Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
*Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
*Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
*Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein

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