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Where to watch as Italy, Portugal, and Turkey all battle for a spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

March 23, 2022 By Michelle Bonsu
One spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup is up for grabs as Italy, Portugal, and Turkey all prepare to do battle for a coveted ticket to this year's event.

Another international break is upon us, and while many club football fans will feel quite disappointed not to see their favorite teams in action, there's still plenty of action to look forward to.

Namely, the remaining qualifying matches for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. So far, reigning champs France have secured their spot, along with nine other European sides: England, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Croatia, and Serbia. That means that there are three spots up for grabs, with one being allocated to the teams in three groups: A, B, and C.

Group C features a very interesting mix, with EURO 2020 winners Italy, EURO 2016 and 2019 UEFA Nations League winners Portugal, 2002 World Cup semi-finalists Turkey, and Eastern European minnows North Macedonia. It's pretty obvious which teams are the heavy favorites to secure a ticket and which team is heavily unfancied, making this battle that much more interesting. 

Indeed, with three teams: Italy, Portugal, and Turkey having a realistic shot at featuring at this year's tournament, the upcoming matches will be quite an intriguing set of ties to watch. Here's all you need to know.

Italy vs North Macedonia - starts at 12:45 PST/15:45 EST/19:45 GMT/20:45 CET

Preview

Despite a strong start, the Azzurri ended up slipping up in their final two games, which allowed Switzerland to pip them to top spot in Group C by two points. They'll need to get their act together if they want to avoid missing out on yet another World Cup. Although Italy ended their long wait for a trophy by winning the EURO 2020 tournament last year, all that progress will be swifly forgotten if they fail to qualify for this year's World Cup. So far, the Azzurri have never failed to qualify for back to back tournaments, as the last time they missed out at a World Cup, in 1958, they quickly recovered to qualify for the 1962 edition.

Italy have seen their form take a dip lately, as they've won just two of their last seven and now will be welcoming a team desperate to feature on the big stage. North Macedonia were expectedly dumped out early at EURO 2020 but come into this contest having lost just one of their last seven World Cup qualifiers and even pulled off a surprise 2-1 win over Germany last march.

That being said, Italy have never lost a World Cup qualifier on home turf, and the Azzurri certainly won't be looking to see that run end when they welcome their upcoming opponents on Thursday evening.

Italy's personnel situation: Veteran duo Lorenzo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been included in the squad despite sustaining injuries while on club duty for Juventus. Meanwhile, fellow defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo recently had to withdraw from the squad due to an injury of his own, but PSG midfielder Marco Verratti will return after missing out back in November due to a hip injury. Interestingly, despite some initial buzz, Roberto Mancini has decided to opt not to include Mario Balotelli after there were plenty of reports that the striker could return after years in the international wilderness.

Here's how you can catch Italy vs North Macedonia from wherever you're based:

 

Match details, result and original broadcast info

Italy 0 - 1 North Macedonia

March 24, 2022 3:45pmStadio Renzo Barbera (Palermo)

This match has ended. Below are the original Live broadcast details for this match.

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Portugal vs Turkey - starts at 12:45 PST/15:45 EST/19:45 GMT/20:45 CET

Preview

It all appeared to be smooth sailing for Portugal until they ended up shockingly losing to Serbia 2-1 on the final match day. That result ensured that the Serbs qualified for the tournament as Group A winners thanks to a three point lead, while Portugal now will have to try their luck through two tricky play-off ties against Turkey, and most likely, Italy. 

Prior to their surprising loss to Serbia - even more so given that Portugal were playing at home - Fernando Santos's men were imperious on home turf, where they'd won their last ten qualifying matches. Naturally, Portugal will be looking for a restart, but that could come under some threat when Turkey come to town on Thursday evening.

Although the Crescent Stars had a tournament to forget at EURO 2020, where they lost all three games in a humiliating showing, Turkey have since seemingly turned things around. They've lost just one of their last seven en route to finishing as runners-up in Group G, and now, under the tutelage of new manager Stefan Kunz, are seeking to feature at the World Cup for the first time since 2002, when they finished in third place. 

While Turkey's defense has been quite shambolic - as they conceded a whopping six in a 6-1 humiliation against the Netherlands - they will be hoping to perhaps nick a goal or two, especially as Portugal will be quite a few players due to injury and suspension.

Nonetheless, Portugal, who've won six of their last eight meetings, just may have enough to edge out Turkey, especially if Cristiano Ronaldo has another standout performance as the 37-year-old is certainly looking forward to featuring at what could will be his last World Cup later this year.

Portugal's personnel situation: Head coach Santos has some selection concerns on his hands after defender Pepe has been ruled out due to having contracted COVID-19. The 39-year-old veteran has been a mainstay for the Portuguese national team for 15 years, and his absence comes as a big blow given that fellow defender Ruben Dias has also been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. In addition, both Joao Cancelo and Renato Sanches are suspended, while Ruben Neves also recently withdrew from the squad after sustaining an injury.

Turkey's personnel situation: No injury, illness, or suspension concerns for Turkey ahead of this game.

Here's how you can catch Portugal vs Turkey from wherever you're based:

 

Match details, result and original broadcast info

Portugal 3 - 1 Turkey

March 24, 2022 3:45pmEstádio Do Dragão (Porto)

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What's next? Italy, Turkey, and Portugal all hoping to feature at the 2022 World Cup

On Tuesday, March 29th, the winners of the two aforementioned games will square off, with a coveted spot in at the 2022 FIFA World Cup up for grabs. Will it be Italy facing Portugal? Or will Turkey get a chance to get some revenge on Italy for their 3-0 humiliation at EURO 2020 last year? 

Of course, North Macedonia's supporters will be looking for their team to be considered as among contenders for a World Cup spot, but the odds are firmly stacked against them, to put it bluntly. That being said, football is unpredictable, and anything can happen over the course of the next few days - including the heavily unfavored minnows somehow managing to upset the cards and pip the likes of Portugal, Turkey, and Italy to the tournament.

Still, for all intents and purposes, those prospects pretty much look like slim to none, meaning that it looks set to be a very interesting match up next week featuring either Italy vs Portugal or Italy vs Turkey.


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