The 2022 World Cup is on the horizon with teams around the world waiting for the qualifying draw to discover their path to Qatar.
The World Cup will start on 21 November and end on 18 December 2022 in Qatar.
Holders France remain one of the world’s best and will be eager to add a third World Cup, though there is no shortage of contenders, with Belgium, the No 1 side in Fifa’s rankings, Spain and England showing promising signs, and the depth in Europe mightily impressive overall. European champions Portugal, Italy and Spain are also likely to be in contention, should they all qualify.
Gareth Southgate, who oversaw a positive end to England’s year in the most recent international break, will hope to be handed a favourable draw with focus remaining on the postponed Euro 2020, which means there will be less than 18 months between the two championships.
Here’s everything we know about the draw and who England could face:
When and where is the draw?
The 2022 World Cup qualifying draw is taking place in Zurich on Monday, 7 December, at Fifa’s headquarters in a virtual event, without the usual representatives from governing bodies due the Covid-19 pandemic.
What time will the draw start?
The draw will commence at 6pm local time (5pm GMT). You can follow all the build-up and live coverage of the event itself right here.
How is the draw’s methods?
With 55 countries set to compete for just 13 European Uefa places for Qatar 2022, the competition is as fierce as ever, with Europe possessing the best teams in the world based on the world rankings.
The 55 teams will be divided into six pots: 10 teams will be in pots 1-5 with five extra teams in pot 6. There will then be 10 groups: five groups of five (A-E) and then five groups of six (F-J).
What pot will England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland be in?
The pots are divided up based on Fifa’s world rankings: England are currently fourth in the world, so they will be part of pot one and therefore have the easiest possible draw based on the pots.
Wales, ranked 18th, are in pot two, so they could draw England, while both home nations could draw pot four sides Northern Ireland (45) and Scotland (48), as well as the Republic of Ireland (42).
Pot 1: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Holland
Pot 2: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania
Pot 3: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland
Pot 4: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg
Pot 5: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra
Pot 6: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino
The Road to Qatar and key dates
Each side from the 10 groups will play the other teams inside their group twice - once at home and once away - between March and November 2021. The 10 group winners will automatically clinch a place in Qatar 2022, though there will be three more places and a lifeline for the runners-up, who will be drawn into three pathways, alongside the two best Uefa Nations League 2020/21 group winners that have not already qualified for the tournament or taken up a runner-up place.
The 12 teams in total will then be divided into the aforementioned three pathways, meaning a ‘semi-final’ and a ‘final’ will be needed to be negotiated to reach Qatar. Those single-leg knockout matches will be played in March 2022.
Can I watch live and is there a live stream?
Yes, you can watch the draw live on Uefa’s website, which will host a live stream, or tune into our live blog here with all the information you’ll need plus reaction and analysis.