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2022 World Cup qualifying: All you need to know

How it worked, match dates, group stage, play-off format, finals.

Harry Kane's England qualified comfortably for the World Cup
Harry Kane's England qualified comfortably for the World Cup AFP via Getty Images

What is it?

The process by which UEFA's 55 member associations were whittled down to 13 teams for the 2022 final tournament in Qatar.

Official FIFA regulations

How did it work?

There were two stages to qualifying:

Group stage
Teams were split into ten groups of five or six (the four teams who reached the 2021 UEFA Nations League finals – Belgium, France, Italy, Spain – were in the smaller groups). The ten group winners qualified for the World Cup.

The three remaining World Cup berths were determined via the play-offs.

Play-off regulations

Who qualified?

Ten teams qualified after topping their qualifying groups:


A further three teams qualified after winning play-offs:


European Qualifiers for World Cup: State of play

What was the play-off schedule?

Semi-finals – Thursday 24 March 2022
Path A
: Wales 2-1 Austria
Path B
: Sweden 1-0 Czech Republic (aet)
Path C
: Italy 0-1 North Macedonia, Portugal 3-1 Turkey 

Semi-final – Wednesday 1 June 2022
Path A: Scotland 1-3 Ukraine

Finals – Tuesday 29 March 2022
Path B
: Poland 2-0 Sweden
Path C
: Portugal 2-0 North Macedonia

Final – Sunday 5 June 2022
Path A: Wales 1-0 Ukraine

What were the groups?

The groups were determined by a draw in Zurich on 7 December 2020.

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 and Herzegovina, 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

*Group winners

All the fixtures

When did the qualifying matches take place?

Matchday 1: 24–25 March 2021
Matchday 2: 27–28 March 2021
Matchday 3: 30–31 March 2021
Matchday 4: 1–2 September 2021
Matchday 5: 4–5 September 2021
Matchday 6: 7–8 September 2021
Matchday 7: 8–9 October 2021
Matchday 8: 11–12 October 2021
Matchday 9: 11–13 November 2021
Matchday 10: 14–16 November 2021
Play-offs: 24 & 29 March 2022, 1 & 5 June 2022

When is the 2022 World Cup?

The 22nd finals in Qatar will be the first World Cup not held in May, June, or July; the tournament is instead scheduled for a reduced timeframe between 21 November to 18 December. The World Cup draw took place on Friday 1 April in Doha, Qatar.

World Cup groups

Group A: Qatar (hosts), Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B
: England, Iran, United States, Wales
Group C
: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D
: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E
: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
Group F
: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G
: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H
: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, Korea Republic