On December 7th, 2020, the UEFA World Cup qualifying draw took place. The 55 teams were seeded into six pots based on the FIFA World Rankings of November 2020, which was after the conclusion of the league phase of the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League. Pots 1 to 5 contained ten teams, while Pot 6 contained five teams. Here are some of the restrictions:
Nations League finalists: The four teams participating in the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals were drawn into a group with five teams (Groups A-E). A group could only contain a maximum of one Nations League finalist, but they were all in the same pot. The four finalists were Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain.
Prohibited clashes: Due to political reasons matches between the following pairs were prohibited from playing each other, which means they can not be placed in the same group; Kosovo/Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo/Serbia, Kosovo/Russia, Russia/Ukraine, Armenia/Azerbaijan, and Gibraltar/Spain.
Winter Venues: A maximum of two teams whose venues are identified as medium or high risk to severe winter conditions could be placed in each group. Those nations are Belarus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, and Ukraine. Faroe Islands and Iceland were identified as hard winter groups, which means they usually have issues hosting games in March and November, and therefore they could not be drawn together. The other nations shall play as few home games as possible in March and November.
Excessive Travel: A maximum of one pair of teams that are identified with excessive travel distance can be placed in each group.
- Azerbaijan: with Iceland, Gibraltar, and Portugal
- Iceland: with Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, and Israel
- Kazakhstan: with England, France, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and Wales.
There are two rounds to the UEFA World Cup Qualifying, which result in 13 teams qualifying for their spot in Qatar. The First Round has 10 groups of 5 or 6 teams with the Group Winners automatically qualifying for the World Cup. The 10 group runner-ups will be joined by the best 2 Nations League group winners, based on the Nations League overall ranking that finished outside of the top two of their respective qualifying group. These 12 teams will be drawn into three playoff paths, playing two rounds of single match playoffs with the 3 path winners qualifying for the World Cup.
- Republic of Ireland
- Northern Ireland
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- San Marino
- North Macedonia
The Group Stage begins on March 24th, 2021.
Featured Photo Credit: Game Changer Sports Network
Would you like to advertise with Game Changer Sports Network? We have the perfect opportunity for any and all businesses please contact Jake at Info@GameChangerSportsNetwork.com to discuss potential advertising space with us!