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2022 World Cup qualifying draw: Croatia to face Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia

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Croatia after the World Cup Final in 1998 (Photo credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/CC License/www.kremlin.ru)

ZURICH, 7 December 2020 – Croatia has learned its opponents they will face on the road to qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

Croatia, who was one of the top seeds in pot one, were drawn in Group H in Zurich on Monday alongside Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta

It was the first time in history that the draw took place virtually with no coaches or national federation representatives in attendance. 

Croatia has recent qualifying history with Slovakia after they were in the same group Euro 2020 qualifiers. Croatia won the group, beating Slovakia twice (0-4, 3-1). 

Croatia and Russia last met in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinal which Croatia won on penalties. Croatia is unbeaten against neighbours Slovenia in 9 games. They last met in 2008 when Croatia won 3-2.

Croatia is unbeaten also against Cyprus and Malta.  

All teams in the group will play each other twice in a home and away format between March and November 2021. The ten group winners will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, with the ten runners-up advancing to the play-offs.

Besides the ten runners-up from the group stage, the play-offs will also include the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League 2020-2021 overall ranking that did not qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and did not enter the play-offs as runners-up.

The 12 teams will be split into three play-off paths, which will feature single-leg knockout matches in March 2022 to determine the last three European nations to book a place in Qatar.

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