The road to Qatar 2022 for European nations is up and running with UEFA’s 55 member associations halfway through their qualifying campaigns to reach the finals next year.
Here, we run through the state of play in each of the 10 groups as the tables start to take shape and provide the lowdown on the qualification process and key dates.
The group winners will automatically qualify for Qatar 2022 and this page will be updated as countries book their place at next year’s showpiece tournament.
What are the groups?
Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein
Serbia edge Portugal on goal difference, each with three wins and a draw during the campaign. Luxembourg are punching above their weight with a modest four-point deficit – but the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan remain stranded on one point.
Stephen Kenny’s side clash with the league leaders in Dublin on Tuesday, while Portugal will be favourites for three points when they travel to Baku on the same night.
Spain leapfrogged Sweden atop Group B by one point with a 4-0 win over Georgia on Sunday – but the Scandinavians have two games in hand and will look to maintain pressure when they face Greece on Wednesday.
Janne Andersson’s side will be hoping the Spaniards suffer a shock result against Kosovo, who have averaged one point per game and rank third – having only made their debut for tournament qualification during World Cup 2018.
Group C has opened up after runners-up Switzerland held group-leaders Italy to a 0-0 draw on Sunday.
The Azzurri now top the table by four points but have played two games more than the Swiss, who have the opportunity to narrow the gap when they face Northern Ireland on Wednesday.
France are also struggling to find their groove with two wins and three draws from five games in Group D.
Like Italy, Didier Deschamps’ side lead the table by four points, but runners-up Finland also have two games in hand and the crunch tie comes when they visit the Stade des Lumieres on Tuesday.
Belgium top the FIFA world rankings and are pulling clear in Group E with 13 points from four wins and a draw in five games – five points clear of the Czech Republic, who do not play again until October.
Roberto Martinez’s side could increase their lead to eight points when they come up against Belarus on Wednesday – who held on until the final minutes in the 3-2 defeat against Wales on Sunday.
Denmark have continued where they left off at Euro 2020, matching England in Group I with perfect records during World Cup qualifying with five straight wins and could extend that run to six if they beat runners-up Israel on Tuesday.
Israel (10 points), Scotland (eight points) and Austria (seven points) form the chasing pack – with the latter pair meeting for a crunch clash in Copenhagen this week.
Group G is proving too tight to call with five games played. Turkey lead the pack by one point, ahead of the Netherlands and Norway (both 10 points), while Montenegro remain in the fold on seven points.
Louis van Gaal’s side host the Turks on Tuesday – a fixture that could see the Dutch move four points clear or sink into the play-off spot if the game fails to end in stalemate.
Group H is the only group to have the leading two teams locked on points and goal difference, with Russia edging Croatia on goals scored, while Slovenia and Slovakia remain only three and fours points adrift, respectively.
Russia will look to take advantage of playing fifth-placed Malta on Tuesday, while Croatia face a trickier test on paper against Slovenia.
England and Sweden are the only teams with perfect records during qualifying, and Gareth Southgate’s side have built a five-point lead over runner-up Poland ahead of their crunch clash in Warsaw on Wednesday.
Albania and Hungary remain within touching distance of the play-off place as they look to close in on runners-up spot and will be favourites in upcoming fixtures against San Marino and Andorra this week, respectively.
Germany lead the way in Group J with four wins and only one defeat against North Macedonia in March but Armenia are keeping pace with a mere two-point gap, while Romania and North Macedonia remain in the chase and face each other this week.
Indeed, Armenia will look to maintain their qualification tilt when they face rock-bottom Liechtenstein on Wednesday, with Germany facing a tougher test against underperforming Iceland.
How many European nations qualify?
A total of 13 slots in the final tournament are available for UEFA teams. The 55 teams have been split into five groups of five and five groups of six.
The winners of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals, which for the first time will be played in November and December of 2022 to avoid the punishing summer heat in the Middle East.
What happens if you finish second in your group?
A further three places will be fought out between the 10 group runners-up and the two highest-ranked teams from the Nations League who have not already qualified or finished in a runners-up spot.
These 12 teams will be divided into three play-off paths, each featuring four countries, to determine the final three European berths. The format will consist of two knockout rounds from which the three additional teams qualify.
When will the qualifiers be played?
The qualifiers will be played between March and November 2021, with play-offs scheduled for March 2022.
Matchday 6: September 7-8 2021
Matchday 7: October 8-9 2021
Matchday 8: October 11-12 2021
Matchday 9: November 11-13 2021
Matchday 10: November 14-16 2021
What’s the fixture schedule?
The tournament will feature 32 teams in eight groups of four.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stage, which will run over a 12-day period and see winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16.
Matches will only be assigned to particular venues after the finals draw, so organisers can choose optimal kick-off times to suit television audiences in different countries, as well as supporters out in Qatar.
The finals draw is scheduled to take place in April 2022, after the March window for international fixtures.
Unlike at Euro 2020, there will be a third-place play-off game on December 17.
Group stage: November 21- December 2
Round of 16: December 3-6
Quarter-finals: December 9/10
Semi-finals: December 13/14
Final: December 18
When will the matches kick off?
FIFA has confirmed the first two rounds of matches will kick off at 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm local time (10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm in the United Kingdom).
Kick-off times in the final round of group games and knock-out round matches will be at 6pm and 10pm local time (3pm and 7pm UK time).
The final is scheduled to kick off at 6pm local time (3pm UK time)
What are the venues?
The group games will take place across eight stadia: Al Bayt Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Lusail Stadium, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Education City Stadium, Al Janoub Stadium.
This content was originally published here.