The draw for the European play-offs for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ™, which starts today at 17:00 CET, will be broadcast live on FIFA TV. This is followed by the draw for the intercontinental play-offs, in which a nation from the zones AFC, Concacaf, CONMEBOL and OFC will compete against each other.

FIFA Competition Director Manolo Zubiria will be running the draws presented by Samantha Johnson, who created a 20-strong list of the UK’s most influential people under 40, and esteemed Italian / Australian Adriano del Monte, who covered the last three on FIFA Football -World Championships 2010, 2014 & 2018.

Twelve nations fight for three tickets in the European play-offs. The hopefuls will be split into three teams of four, with the winners of each qualifying qualifying for Qatar 2022. The 12 coaches will follow the draw via Zoom and then give Samantha and Adriano their reaction.

Another man who has it firmly in view will be Lothar Matthäus. Shortly after he had finished his 20-year-old international career, which was victorious with Italy in 1990, he saw Germany successfully cross the European play-offs for Korea / Japan in 2002 and reach the World Cup final.

“The last two European champions Italy and Portugal certainly have great potential to make it to the final – similar to Germany in 2002,” he told FIFA. “A personality like Cristiano Ronaldo just has to be part of the FIFA World Cup. The same goes for Italy. I’ve had a fantastic time at Inter, so part of my heart beats for the Azzurri. ”

Tiago Mendes, who helped Portugal reach the UEFA EURO 2004 final and the 2006 semi-finals with Ronaldo, is keen to see his former team-mate in Qatar.

“The World Cup would be the icing on the cake, as we say in Portugal, but what Cristiano does in football is incredible and he will be remembered forever in this sport,” he said. “Without a doubt we have a great group of players who make us Portuguese dream of big trophies.” When asked which of the unset teams he would rather avoid, Mendes named one against which Portugal won one, one draw and one has lost two out of four encounters.

“We know anything can happen in football,” he said. “But if I had to choose one, I would say Ukraine because they also have a lot of good players, they are very compact and we suffered against them and we couldn’t beat them in our last two games.”

Matthäus would be happy if some other Pot 2 teams went to Qatar.

“As a former Bayern player, I would be very happy to see the current The Best FIFA Men’s player Robert Lewandowski at the World Cup with Poland,” he said. “The same goes for David Alaba and my friends in Austria. And I would be very happy for all of my Turkish friends and their German coach Stefan Kuntz if this football-crazy country qualifies for the World Cup for the third time. “For Christian Karembeu, the European play-offs for Brazil 2014 stand out. First, because his land was in them; second, because arguably the most exciting play-off in World Cup qualifying history took place in Solna, where a brilliant brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic was overshadowed by a breathtaking hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo.

“The pictures went around the world,” recalled the 1998 winner from France. “Two of the best players in the world at the time; two great personalities who know how to be present in the big games, the important moments. Cristiano was just a bit too strong and resilient for Zlatan. “

France, like Portugal, had to pass a tough test to reach Brazil. Two to zero back after the first leg in Ukraine, two goals from Mamadou Sakho – the only international he has ever scored in – inspired the 3-0 win Les Bleus needed.

“Another defense lawyer did that … Lilian [Thuram]!” Said Karembeu. “We were 1-0 down against Croatia in the 1998 World Cup semi-finals when Lilian found the inspiration to score twice to reach the final. In the other 141 games he played for France, he didn’t score before or after!

“And don’t forget that Karim Benzema scored the other goal against Ukraine. I expect him to be fully fit and ready for next year’s finals. ”

Many believe Benzema’s return improved the team that won Russia in 2018, but can France be the first team to win the World Cup crown in a row since Brazil in 1962?

“The quality has improved so much that today there are so many teams that can win big tournaments,” said Karembeu. “Who would have expected Denmark, which replaced Yugoslavia, to win EURO 1992 or Greece to do the same in 2004? Who would have expected South Korea to reach the semi-finals at the 2002 World Cup and lose to Germany only with the smallest or narrowest surplus in the semi-finals?

“This is an exciting time and means that it has become more difficult for the traditionally big teams from Europe or South America to win a World Cup, let alone keep the title. Nevertheless, France has the qualities, the goal strength and the talent to keep the trophy in Qatar next year. ”

The two intercontinental play-offs will be one-legged and will take place on June 13th and 14th, 2022. Pablo Zabaleta vaguely remembers Argentina escaping one and entering the United States in 1994.

“I was only eight years old and I remember very little, but of course there was a lot of tension,” he said. “I’ve always expected Argentina to qualify for the World Cup, but Australia were tough opponents and made it very difficult for Argentina. Maradona’s return to the national team for these games was key. ”

Fortunately for the former right-back, who became runner-up in 2014, Argentina and Brazil have already qualified for the 2022 finals. Ecuador is close to joining, but only three points separate Colombia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia in the battle for the fourth automatic ticket to Qatar and the intercontinental play-off spot.

“The CONMEBOL qualification is the most competitive [zone] right now,” said Zabaleta. “With four laps to go, Ecuador is in a solid position in third place, and I think Colombia will progress automatically as well. I think Uruguay could conquer the intercontinental play-off spot. ”

Besides Italy, Uruguay is the only former winner who did not qualify for the 22nd World Cup. Lionel Messi never got his hands on the sacred trophy, but after winning his first title with Argentina, the Copa America in Brazil in July, could he crown his overwhelming career at Lusail Iconic Stadium on December 18, 2022?

“Qatar 2022 could be Messi’s last World Cup and I can’t wait to see his magic for Argentina,” said Zabaleta. “It is every Argentinian dream to see Messi win the World Cup.”