Xenia Sports – London
The road to Qatar 2022 begins for European teams on Monday as the World Cup qualifying draw takes place.
Here, the PA news agency gives the lowdown on what to expect.
Where is it happening, and what time does it start?
As with most events in 2020, the draw ceremony will be a virtual event staged in Zurich, the home city of the world governing body and World Cup organizers FIFA.
It is due to start at 1700 GMT.
How will it work?
The 55 nations will be split between 10 groups, five containing five teams and five containing six teams. The teams will be placed in six seeding pots, with pot one containing the highest-ranked sides and pot six the lowest.
Who is in which pot?
England are among the top seeds, with Wales in the second pot. Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Scotland are all in the third pot, opening up the possibility of some old rivalries being renewed.
Which groups will have five teams and which will have six?
Groups A to E will feature five teams, with F to J containing six. England has only got a one in six chance of being in one of the five-team groups. This is because fellow top seeds Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain, as Nations League finalists, will be awarded places in five-team groups in order for them to also fit in the UEFA tournament in October next year.
The five teams in pot six will be only be drawn into one of the six-team groups.
When will the qualifying matches be played?
The games will take place between March and November next year. Qualification play-offs will be played in March 2022.
How many teams qualify?
In total, 13 European countries will feature in Qatar in 2022. These will be the 10 group winners, plus three further countries via the play-offs. The playoffs will feature the 10 group runners-up, alongside the two sides ranked highest in the 2020-21 Nations League who have not already qualified as a group winner or secured a runner-up spot. Those 12 teams will be split into three separate paths, with the winner of each booking a ticket to Qatar.
When will the tournament take place?
For the first time ever the World Cup will be played in November and December of 2022 to avoid the intense summer heat in the Middle East.