The draw for the European play-offs for 2022 Qatar World Cup landed Portugal and Italy on the same side of the bracket in Path C, which means that should they both get through their play-off, they will meet in the decider with only one of them able to book a place at the finals. That moment is still a long way off – the play-offs take place at the end of March but Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci has already started winding up one of his old team mates. In an interview with RAI, the Juventus defender took the opportunity to send a messge to former club team mate Cristiano Ronaldo. “I heard that Cristiano Ronaldo was joking about a potential Portugal vs Italy. We’ll see what happens out on the pitch, but Cristiano already knows that he is going to suffer and will get a few kicks,” the veteran central defender explained.
The road to Qatar
In Path C, Portugal must get past Turkey in one of the semi-finals while Italy must do the same in their meeting with North Macedonia.
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The semi-finals will be played on 24 and 25 March with the winners going through to the play-off final on 29 March.
Italy missed 2018 World Cup Russia after losing their play-off to Sweden. That experience made Italy take note about just how difficult it has become to qualify for the finals. Bonucci is especially motivated because he is keen to give his kids a present they will never forget, as he explained. “Right now we are focusing on what’s happening off the field but in March, we’ll be back for the play-offs and I amn sure that we will have learned from what happened in the aurumn and we will put in two great games. I told my team mates that in the meantime, we have to be at our best. I want to gift my kids something which they have never seen before – Italy playing at the World Cup,” Bonucci ended.
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