A look at the two play-off finals in World Cup qualification in Europe on Tuesday:
POLAND vs SWEDEN
Poland and Sweden are looking for Rugby World Cups when they meet in Chorzow. Poland got a bay for the final after Russia was disqualified from the play-off rounds after the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Sweden got there by beating the Czech Republic 1-0 on Thursday after extra time. At 40, Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to play in what is likely to be his last World Cup and will start on the bench for Sweden. He is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. His fellow goal scorer, Robert Lewandowski, should be fit for Poland after being left out of a 2-2 draw with Scotland in a friendly on Thursday after experiencing knee-jerk problems. Teammate Krzysztof Piatek needed stitches in a leg wound during the Scotland match, but trained on Monday.
PORTUGAL Vs. NORTHERN MACEDONIA
Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo face Northern Macedonia and must avoid a disturbance like the one that ended Italy’s hopes of advancing to the World Cup. Northern Macedonia stunned Italy in Palermo last week and tackled Portugal in Porto to try to advance to the final for the first time. Portugal is looking for its sixth consecutive World Cup appearance, and Ronaldo its 10th consecutive participation in major tournaments. He would be 41 years old by the time of the 2026 World Cup if Portugal did not get past Northern Macedonia this time. Portugal coach Fernando Santos will have a more complete squad for the game at Estádio do Dragão as defenders Pepe and João Cancelo return after missing the 3-1 win over Turkey. Pepe tested positive for COVID-19 and Cancelo was suspended.
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