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World Cup is on

The 2022 FIFA World Cup draw took place on Friday (April 1). Twenty-nine teams and three others that are not decided yet finally found out about their fate as the teams were split into eight groups. The draw threw out some mouth-watering ties such as Germany vs Spain, Croatia vs Belgium, and Portugal vs Uruguay. 

The World Cup will be held in winter, a first in its history will present new challenges for teams and players as they look to manage their workload between playing in the respective leagues and the World Cup.

Here’s a look at the eight groups.

 

Group A

The first group includes hosts Qatar, Netherlands, African champions Senegal, and Ecuador. On paper, the dutch have the strongest team and will be expected to top the group.

The second Asian country to host the World Cup, Qatar were also drawn into Group A. Despite never qualifying for the World Cup, the host nation’s performances have improved in the last decade. The team has won the 2014 Gold Cup, and the 2019 Asia Cup is more than a match for any team.

After missing out on the previous World Cup in 2018, the Netherlands will also be looking to make a mark with African champions Senegal who have been in top form in the recent times.

Qatar have been brilliant, but Netherlands and Senegal have enough talent to take the top two spots.

Teams: Qatar, Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador

Teams Qualifying: Netherlands, Senegal

 

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Group B

1966 world champions England are joined by the USA, Iran and whoever wins the European playoffs between Scotland and Ukraine. This is a group that could throw some surprises. England will likely take the top spot, but it is the second place where things will get heated up. The USA might look like the favourites but will get a tough challenge from Iran. 

With Scotland and Ukraine lacking the talent of the above three sides, it will be a three-way fight with England and USA taking the top two spots.

Teams: England, USA, Iran, Scotland/Ukraine

Teams Qualifying: England, USA

 

 

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Group C

Two-time winners Argentina and Uruguay are joined by Robert Lewandowski’s Poland and Saudi Arabia in Group C. Argentina will be looking to improve upon their Round of 16 exit from the last World Cup. Meanwhile, Mexico have shown that they have the talent to knock out big teams (Germany in 2018, for example).

Poland may have Lewandowski, but the inability of the other players to step up will cost them a place in the next Round. Saudi Arabia have topped their group while conceding only four goals, but against better quality teams, they will be found out.

Teams: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Teams Qualifying: Argentina, Mexico 

 

 

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Group D

Defending champions France find themselves in Group D. The Blues will face Denmark, who will have Christian Eriksen in their squad, a year after he suffered cardiac arrest at the Euros, Tunisia and the winner of the playoffs between Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

France have a plethora of talent and will easily top the group, but Tunisia and Denmark can both have a claim for the second spot. Tunisia had one of the meanest defence in the African qualifiers. However, Denmark have quality players such as Eriksen, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, and Kasper Schmeichel, which will ultimately help them secure the second spot.

Teams: France, Denmark, Tunisia, Australia/United Arab Emirates

Teams Qualifying:

Group E

The Group of Death. The 2010 and 2014 World Cup champions are in the same group and is perhaps the most significant group stage tie. They will be joined by Asian powerhouses Japan, and the winner of the playoffs between New Zealand, and Costa Rica. 

 The four-time world champions finally ended their 15-year relationship with manager Joachim Loew who was replaced by ex-Bayern Munich’s treble winning manager, Hansi Flick. Die Mannschaft have always been a team to watch out for and will be looking to forget the past world cup’s demons. Meanwhile, The 2008 World champions are among the strongest teams in the World Cup. ‘La Roja’ topped their group after winning six, drawing one and losing one.

 However, they were unlucky to bow out in the semi-final to Italy on penalties despite dominating them for 120 minutes, and thus will be looking to go all the way in Qatar. 

While Germany and Spain will likely take the two spots but will receive a tough challenge from Japan, and Costa Rica (if they qualify), who can spring up surprises. 

Teams: Spain, Germany, Japan, New Zealand/Croatia

Teams Qualifying: Spain, Germany

 

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Group F

This is perhaps the last chance for Belgium’s golden generation to etch their name in history by winning an international trophy. They are joined in Group F by 2018 finalists Croatia, Morocco, and Canada (first qualification since 1986). Currently ranked number one, Belgium will top the group. 

Morocco conceded just once and scored 20 goals while topping their group, but they and Canada will ultimately fall short of Croatia’s talent who will follow Belgium into the Round of 16.

Teams: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

Teams Qualifying: Belgium, Croatia

 

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Group G

Five-time world champions Brazil are in Group G and are joined by Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. The Selecao dominated the CONMEBOL qualification group as they won 14 and drew three games to qualify as the group topper from South America. With a potent mix of talent across the board, they have become the bookie’s favourite to win their sixth World Cup and qualify as group toppers.

Switzerland have shown by knocking France out in the Euros that they can rise to the occasion, but Serbia finished as group toppers ahead of Pot 1 seeded Portugal and thus will likely join Brail for the next Round.

Teams: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Teams Qualifying: Brazil, Croatia

 

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Group H

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are in Group H and are joined by Uruguay, Ghana, and South Korea. In recent years, Portugal has been dubbed as the team that has ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. However, this time Selecao das Quinas can now call upon the services of Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, and Bernardo Silva.

Meanwhile, Uruguay have also a mix of experience in Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Diego Godin, along with the youthfulness of Darwin Nunez, Rodrigo Bentancur, and Facundo Torres.

Ghana and South Korea have performed brilliantly but will likely fall short against the talent of Portugal and Uruguay.

Teams: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, Korea Republic

Teams Qualifying: Portugal, Uruguay 

 

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Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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