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The Daily Bee: Italy and Portugal Into World Cup Qualification Playoffs

England qualified for the World Cup in Qatar, but Italy will need to get it done in the playoffs

Northern Ireland v Italy - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Good Morning Fear The Wall

France, Germany, and Belgium have all booked their place in this year’s World Cup, and England joined them last night, but the same can’t be said for Italy and Portugal, who have made hard work of their qualification groups. The two heavyweights of international football will have to do things the hard way, going through the playoffs to try and secure their spot at the World Cup next year.

Italy were in thrilling form at the European Championships over the summer, but they’ve struggled ever since, and that has led to them finishing second in their World Cup qualification group, behind Switzerland.

Northern Ireland v Italy - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Last night, Italy needed to better Switzerland’s result, but instead they drew 0-0 with Northern Ireland, while the Swiss smashed Bulgaria 4-0. That leaves Italy in second place and with more to do if they are to make it to Qatar. A World Cup without Italy would be a real shame, but congratulations to Switzerland! They certainly earned their spot.

Meanwhile, England confirmed their spot at the World Cup by beating San Marino 10-0. There were generally muted celebrations after the first handful of goals, but it’s still a little uncomfortable watching one of the best teams in the world absolutely demolish a minnow. You could fit the entire population of San Marino in most Premier League stadiums, sometimes twice, so a 10-0 is only a reflection of the massive gulf in resources and talent pool available to both teams. But I guess England are showing a more ruthless edge than I’m used to. It’s a good thing really. It’s just a shame for San Marino.

San Marino v England - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Jude Bellingham had a goal disallowed for a foul by Tammy Abraham in the buildup. I thought the goal probably should have stood (and the same for Tammy Abraham’s goal that was disallowed later in the game). Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, and it would be a bit sour to complain that the ref stiffed you when you win a game 10-0. Still, it would have been nice to see Bellingham get on the scoresheet!

The Daily Buzz

Who has impressed you the most in the World Cup qualification stages?