As Portugal And Italy Face Play-offs, Where Do World Cup Contenders Stand?
Muhammad Rameez 17 days ago Fri 19th November 2021 | 08:30 AM
Paris, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 19th Nov, 2021 ) :Holders France hope to retain their title but the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be missing the two most recent European champions as Portugal and Italy must both battle through play-offs to qualify.
That left fans with the prospect of no Cristiano Ronaldo in Qatar next winter and the Azzurri, who thrilled during their run to Euro 2020 glory, potentially missing out on two straight World Cups for the first time in their history.
Here AFP Sport looks at the state of play for some of the big guns who have booked their place on football's biggest stage.
France Les Bleus will be hoping for a more inspired defence of their world title than the performances they dished up at Euro 2020, which brought on a full-blown crisis following their humiliating elimination at the hands of Switzerland.
Winning the Nations League brought some enthusiasm back to Didier Deschamps' side, as did the sterling performances from Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema which led them to the title.
Spain Luis Enrique's faith in Spain's seemingly endless conveyor belt of young talent looks to be paying off, with his team looking like a dark horse in Qatar after creditable showings both at the Euro and the Nations League.
Only beaten by France in the Nations League final thanks to superb saves from Hugo Lloris and an Mbappe goal which they thought should have been chalked off for offside, Spain impressed with their passing football and bold selection of inexperienced youngsters like Gavi in key roles.
The one thing they lack is a proven goalscorer, with Alvaro Morata still not convincing up top.
Germany Hansi Flick has Germany firing again after taking charge of the team following their last-16 Euro 2020 exit at the hands of England, which brought down the curtain on Joachim Loew's 15-year tenure.
The Germans have put together six straight wins -- rattling in 27 goals in the process -- since Flick took the reins, and they look a rejuvenated outfit ready to make a mark after poor showings in recent tournaments.
It also gives Messi one last chance to shine on the biggest stage of all and put to bed the one doubt around claims that he is the greatest ever player -- that unlike Diego Maradona he has never truly done it at a World Cup.