Over a year before the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals kick-off in Qatar, the drama and heartbreak have already begun. After the draw was made for three remaining playoff spots, it has been revealed that either Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal or European Champions Italy will not make it to Qatar.

After both teams failed to secure their spots in the recently concluded World Cup Qualifiers, Portugal and Italy have found themselves being drawn against each other in Path C of the playoffs.

The reigning European Champions will face North Macedonia while Portugal will face Turkey in the first round. If both teams win, they will then have to fight to the death for that elusive ticket to the 2022 World Cup. Of course, there is also the risk that they will both lose to North Macedonia and Turkey respectively.

All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, who may never play in the World Cup again. If Portugal does not qualify in 2022, then chances are slim that he will still be in international duty in 2026. At 36 years old, he will be over 40 when the next event comes around. However, if anyone can do it, Ronaldo probably can. In fact, at the rate he is going, there is good reason to believe that he is not thinking about hanging his boots anytime soon.

Meanwhile, other teams are battling for the other two spots. Path A features the rivalry between Scotland and Wales. Wales captain Gareth Bale will also be hoping to put one over new Real Madrid teammate David Alaba, who is playing with Austria in the same group along with Ukraine

Path B is an Eastern European showcase with Russia going up against Poland. The winner will then face either Sweden or the Czech Republic.

The playoffs will feature a number of other superstars other than Ronaldo, with Marco Verratti, Robert Lewandowski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also facing potential heartbreak.

The playoffs will take place in the next international break in March 2022.

FIFA World Cup Qatar playoffs
FIFA World Cup Qatar playoffs FIFA