With the latest round of European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup complete, there is still plenty to be decided heading into the final fixtures in November.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at where the home nations and the Republic of Ireland stand on the road to Qatar.
Despite a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Hungary at Wembley on Tuesday night, the Three Lions remain on course to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, needing four points from their final two Group I games. Gareth Southgate’s men stand top, three points clear of Poland with a superior goal difference ahead of third-placed Albania coming to Wembley on November 12 and then a trip to minnows San Marino three days later.
Having beaten Israel at Hampden Park with a stoppage-time goal from Scott McTominay and then eventually securing a 1-0 win through Lyndon Dykes’ 86th-minute strike against Faroe Islands in Torshavn, Scotland are within touching distance of a play-off spot. Denmark have already qualified as winners of Group F, having won all of their eight games. Four straight victories since losing to the Danes in Copenhagen have put Steve Clarke’s side in control of the runners-up spot, which they will seal with victory over Moldova on November 12. If Scotland draw and Israel fail to beat Austria on the same day, then that will also be enough to finish second. Otherwise it will come down to Scotland’s home match with Denmark on November 15.
Wales edged to a 1-0 win in Estonia on Monday, which keeps hopes of finishing second in Group E in their hands. Success in the Nations League means Robert Page’s squad are almost-certainly guaranteed a play-off place, but ending as runners-up in Group E would, theoretically, provide a more favourable draw. Wales are third on goal difference behind the Czech Republic, but have a match in hand. Leaders Belgium, who sit five points clear, are expected to win the group. Wales – aiming for a first World Cup finals appearance since 1958 – finish with home matches against Belarus and then Belgium, while the Czechs host Estonia.
Republic of Ireland
Stephen Kenny is already building for the future, with the Republic of Ireland heading into the concluding World Cup qualifiers at home against Portugal and then in Luxembourg knowing they cannot make it to Qatar. Following three defeats, the Republic sit fourth in the table, below Luxembourg, but were boosted by a 3-0 win in Azerbaijan and Tuesday night’s 4-0 friendly rout of World Cup hosts Qatar in Dublin, where Callum Robinson scored a hat-trick.
Ian Baraclough was also left to reflect on what might have been in this campaign, with Northern Ireland’s slim hope of qualification now over following defeats to Switzerland and then losing in Bulgaria, where they had taken the lead. Lithuania and Euro 2020 winners Italy will come to Windsor Park in the last remaining two Group C games, with Northern Ireland looking to make sure they do not finish bottom.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.