The Seleção's "Road to Qatar 2022" will begin with a "home" match against Azerbaijan, but the fixture will not be played in Portugal.
Due to current European travel restrictions because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) announced earlier today that the Seleção's opening fixture of 2022 World Cup qualifiers will be played in Italy on March 24 at Allianz Stadium, home of Portugal Captain Cristiano Ronaldo's club, Juventus FC.
Travel between Portugal and the United Kingdom is the main issue for the change in location for the upcoming match with Azerbaijan. Any Premier League-based player that Portugal manager Fernando Santos selects would have faced a lengthy quarantine period when they returned to England, which would have forced clubs to be without some of their most important players for multiple matches.
Portugal could have as many as 10-12 players based in England selected for the upcoming March fixtures, including Bruno Fernandes, Rui Patrício, Rúben Dias, Bernardo Silva, and Diogo Jota. Moving the March 24 match to Italy will ensure that Portugal can select their top England-based stars.
The match was originally set to be played at the Estádio José Alvalade. The FPF announced that the Lisbon stadium (home of the current Primeira Liga leaders, Sporting Clube de Portugal) will be awarded one of the remaining home fixtures of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Seleção is also scheduled to play two more WC qualifiers at the end of this month:
- March 27 - Serbia (Away)
- March 30 - Luxembourg (Away)
Keep up on the latest Seleção news and updates right here on SelecaoPod.com...