Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales discover qualifying groups

England's Marcus Rashford, Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans, Scotland's Andy Robertson and Wales' Gareth Bale
The qualifiers take place between March and November 2021

England will face Robert Lewandowski's Poland in qualification for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.

They will also play Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino in Group I.

Wales will meet Belgium, who they knocked out of Euro 2016, in Group E.

Northern Ireland have been drawn with Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Lithuania in Group C.

Scotland face Denmark, Austria, Israel, Faroe Islands and Moldova in Group F.

The Republic of Ireland will come up against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Group A, as well as Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

The qualifiers will take place between March and November 2021, with play-offs scheduled for March 2022.

Who the home nations will play
Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland,Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
See the complete draw here

England face Poland again

England have faced Poland in qualifying for the 1974, 1990, 1994, 2006 and 2014 World Cups. The two sides also met in the finals in Mexico in 1986.

Poland have arguably the best striker in world football right now in Lewandowski, who has scored 70 goals in 61 appearances for Bayern Munich since the start of last season.

England's Steven Gerrard takes on two Poland players in 2013
England last met Poland in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, when the Three Lions won 2-0

"There is a great history with that fixture," said England manager Gareth Southgate. "There was a spell when we seemed to draw them all the time."

The group also sees England take on three sides they have beaten every time they have played them - Albania (four wins), Andorra (four) and San Marino (six).

"Poland are obviously a very good side," Southgate added. "Hungary just got promoted into the Nations League top division - so those two in particular will be games that will be tough.

"The rest, whenever I have played for England or managed them, are complicated games to navigate."

England's meeting with San Marino will stir memories of a World Cup qualifier between the two in 1993 when the Three Lions conceded after just 8.3 seconds - but they went on to win 7-1.

Wales have chance to repeat famous win

Ryan Giggs' Wales side may have been drawn against the word's top-ranked side, but the famous triumph over the Belgians at the European Championship four years ago will still be fresh in their minds.

The Welsh came back from a goal down to win 3-1 and reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time.

Big chance for Scotland to qualify?

Scotland qualify for Euro 2020
Scotland beat Serbia on penalties in their qualifying play-off final last month to reach Euro 2020

Scotland, who will play at next year's delayed Euro 2020, have been drawn in arguably the easiest group of the four home nations as they seek to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1998.

They have never lost to the Faroe Islands or Moldova and have a good record against the group's toughest opponents Denmark, triumphing in 10 of their 16 previous meetings.

A chance for revenge for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's group sees them renew hostilities with Switzerland, who controversially beat them in a play-off for the 2018 tournament.

Italy, whose last World Cup triumph came in the 2006 tournament, are 10th in the latest Fifa rankings, with the Swiss occupying 16th spot.

How does qualifying work?

Thirty-two teams will take part in the World Cup in Qatar, of which 13 will be from Europe.

The 10 group winners in qualifying will secure their place at the tournament while the 10 group runners-up will go through to the play-offs, along with the two best Nations League group winners who do not finish in the top two of their World Cup qualifying group.

The 12 play-off teams will be drawn into three separate play-off paths, each of which will comprise semi-finals and final, with the three winners heading to Qatar.

When are the World Cup qualifying group matches?

March 2021: Matchday 1-3

September 2021: Matchday 4-6

October 2021: Matchday 7-8

November 2021: Matchday 9-10

March 2022: Playoffs

And when are the World Cup finals themselves?

Because of Qatar's intense summer heat, this World Cup will be held from 21 November to 18 December 2022, making it the first not to be held in May, June, or July.

It is set to be played in a reduced timeframe of 28 days.

Thirty-two teams will compete in eight venues in five host cities to succeed reigning champions France.

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