As Portugal and Italy face the play-offs, where are the FIFA World Cup contenders? | Football news


PARIS: Holders France hope to retain their title, but the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could miss the last two European champions as Portugal and Italy both have to fight in play-offs to qualify.
This left fans with the prospect of not seeing Cristiano Ronaldo in Qatar next winter and the Azzurri, who were thrilled in their run to Euro 2020 glory, potentially missing two consecutive World Cups for the first time in their history.
Here, AFP Sport takes stock of some of the big guns who have reserved their places on football’s biggest stage.
The Blues are hoping for a defense more inspired by their world title than the performances they concocted at Euro 2020, which caused a full-fledged crisis after their humiliating elimination at the hands of Switzerland.
Winning the Nations League brought back some enthusiasm from Didier Deschamps, as did the good performances of Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema which led them to the title.
However, despite a wealth of world-class talent, France still appears to be less than the sum of their parts.
Having reached the last four in the last World Cup and losing the Euro final on penalties at Wembley, England’s pool of talented players should surely be one of the teams to beat in Qatar.
Gareth Southgate has a bumper crop of top players to build a squad from, which as expected has eased thanks to a generally weak qualifying squad.
However, a security-oriented approach has at times held back the unmistakable threat of attack from the Three Lions and one of Europe’s best forwards to Harry Kane, when the chips are low.
Luis Enrique’s confidence in the seemingly endless conveyor belt of young Spanish talent seems to be paying off, with his team looking like a dark horse in Qatar after honorable performances in both the Euro and the Nations League.
Beaten only by France in the Nations League final thanks to superb saves from Hugo Lloris and a goal from Mbappe who they said should have been scored for offside, Spain impressed with their football of passage and his daring selection of inexperienced youngsters like Gavi in ​​key roles.
The only thing they lack is a proven goalscorer, with Alvaro Morata still not convincing in the lead.
Hansi Flick is firing Germany again after taking the lead after their exit from the last 16 Euro 2020s at the hands of England, which brought down the curtain on Joachim Loew’s 15-year tenure.
The Germans have won six straight wins – totaling 27 goals in the process – since Flick took the reins, and they look a rejuvenated outfit ready to stand out after poor performances in recent tournaments.
Coach Tite can already start planning for next winter’s tournament after qualifying with six games to go last week, with a 1-0 win over Colombia securing Brazil’s place.
They have a comfortable six-point lead at the top of CONMEBOL’s 10-team group after their 0-0 draw against fierce Argentinian rivals on Tuesday.
Just four goals conceded suggest Brazil will be tough to beat, while an attack led by Neymar carries enough threat to challenge anyone.
Lionel Messi and his company are on a 27-game unbeaten streak after Tuesday’s draw with Brazil, as well as losses to Chile and Uruguay, secured their passage to Qatar.
An early World Cup qualification crowns a great year for Argentina, who won their 15th Copa America in July with a victory over Brazil at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
It also gives Messi one last chance to shine on the biggest stage of all and to dispel claims that he is the greatest player of all time – unlike Diego Maradona, he never really has it. done at a World Cup.