• Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal could face Federico Chiesa and Italy for a place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
FIFA have today announced the play-off format for each confederation and the nations hoping to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Football’s global governing body gathered in Zurich for the draw that split the remaining 12 European nations into three paths of four.

Each path will feature two single-leg semi-finals and a final to determine UEFA’s remaining three places for Qatar, with each fixture set to take place at a neutral venue in March.

Of these paths, it was the third that turned the most heads, with Italy and Portugal drawn together alongside Turkey and North Macedonia.

Italy manager Roberto Mancini conceded the outcome “could have gone a little better”, telling Rai Sport: “Both Italy and Portugal were the standout nations ahead of the play-off draw and it will be a bitter pill for fans of the nation that misses out (with every respect to supporters from North Macedonia and Turkey too).”

2018 hosts Russia, meanwhile, will have to contend with Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic if they are to advance to Qatar; but not before Austria battle Wales, Scotland and Ukraine in the other path.

FIFA also unveiled the fixtures for the intercontinental play-offs on Saturday, with the sole survivors of the AFC scheduled to take on CONMEBOL’s representative in a one-off contest at a neutral venue in June.

The Socceroos have benefitted from the play-offs in two of the last four qualifying campaigns but will hope to avoid such a clash when the AFC’s third phase resumes in January.

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As for the OFC, their hopes of attending Qatar will hinge on defeating CONCACAF’s representative in the other play-off.

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