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Portugal to France - Which footballing powerhouses qualified for the World Cup via play-offs?

03:58 IST 16/11/2021
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Portugal and Italy have failed to secure a direct 2022 World Cup berth...

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal failed to book a direct slot at the 2022 World Cup as they finished second behind Serbia in Group B.

In a decisive clash on Sunday night, Serbia trumped the Portuguese 2-1 courtesy of a late strike from Aleksandar Mitrovic and booked their slot at the 2022 World Cup. It was a must win game for the Serbians as a draw would have helped Portugal make it directly to the tournament due to a better goal difference than the Serbs.

This will be the third time in the 21st century that the Portuguese will have to qualify for the main tournament via the play-offs. Before this edition, Ronaldo and co. had to make it to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups after playing in the second round or the play-offs.

On Monday night, Euro 2020 champions Italy joined Portugal in the UEFA play-offs as they failed to top their group, finishing two points behind leaders Switzerland. The Azzurri had failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after they lost to Sweden 1-0 on aggregate in the plat-offs.

The play-offs were introduced to the World Cup qualifiers from the 1998 edition as the UEFA qualifiers saw an increase in teams from 39 to 50. The teams were divided into nine groups and the group winners would qualify.

The runners-up would be ranked according to their records against the first, third and fourth-placed team in their groups, and the team with the best record would also qualify. The other runners-up would advance to the UEFA Play-offs.

1n 1998, Croatia qualified for the World Cup via play-offs and they eventually finished fourth in that edition. Croatia once again had to qualify for the 2018 World Cup from the play-off round and they finished runners-up in that edition.

Here, we take a look at top teams who have qualified for the World Cup via play-offs in the 21st century.

Footballing powerhouses who have qualified for World Cup via play-offs?

Edition

Aggregate

Zone

1998 World Cup

Croatia 3-1 Ukraine

UEFA Qualifiers

1998 World Cup

Russia 1-2 Italy

UEFA Qualifiers

2002 World Cup

Uruguay 3-1 Australia

OFC v CONMEBOL play-offs

2002 World Cup

Germany 5-2 Ukraine

UEFA Qualifiers

2006 World Cup

Spain 6-2 Slovakia

UEFA Qualifiers

2010 World Cup

Uruguay 2-1 Costa Rica

UEFA vs CONCACAF play-offs

2010 World Cup

Portugal 2-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

UEFA Qualifiers

2010 World Cup

France 2-1 Republic of Ireland

UEFA Qualifiers

2014 World Cup

Uruguay 5-0 Jordan

CONMEBOL vs Asia play-offs

2014 World Cup

Croatia 2-0 Iceland

UEFA Qualifiers

2014 World Cup

France 3-2 Ukraine

UEFA Qualifiers

2014 World Cup

Portugal 4-2 Sweden

UEFA Qualifiers

2018 World Cup

Croatia 4-1 Greece

UEFA Qualifiers