The draw, which was drawn on Friday in Zurich, put Italy and Portugal in the third track against North Macedonia and Turkey, respectively, which means that if they pass the latter two, they will meet in the final of this track to determine which of them will reach the finals.
The European play-off, which is divided into three tracks, will be held on March 24 for the semi-final matches and on March 29 for the three final matches.
The Italian and Portuguese teams put themselves in this position after failing to book the direct qualification ticket in the group stage by placing themselves in second place behind Switzerland and Serbia, respectively.
Ten teams reserved their direct cards for the old continent, and three cards remain to be decided through the play-off with the participation of 12 teams, including two from the European Nations League, Czech and Austria, who failed to win one of the first places in their groups during the qualifiers, but they ensured participation in the playoffs as a result of their leadership of their groups in The second tier of the European Nations League.
Contrary to the old system, the supplement will not be held in direct confrontations from two home and away matches, but the 12 teams will be divided into three tracks determined according to the lottery, and four teams will compete in each of them with a semi-final system and a final match, and the winner qualifies for the World Cup (three tracks = three qualified teams from each track)
Italy and Portugal were ranked in the first level, along with Sweden, Scotland, Russia and Wales, while Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Austria and the Czech Republic were ranked in the second level.
In the semi-finals of the first track, Scotland will meet with Ukraine and Wales with Austria, while in the second track will meet Russia with Poland and Sweden with the Czech Republic, and in the third will Italy with North Macedonia and Portugal with Turkey.
The semi-final matches are held on top of the first-level teams, which naturally gives preference to Italy and Portugal, and therefore there is a great possibility that the two teams will meet in the final of this path to determine which of them will reach the finals, which means that Italy is threatened with missing out on the finals for the second time in a row and Portugal for the first time since 1998.
The Italian team missed the last World Cup, which was held in Russia in 2018, after losing the continental play-off against Sweden, which kept it away from the global wedding for the first time in 60 years, specifically since 1985.