Everything You Need To Know: All In One Place
By: Ekansh Agrawal
With about two months until the highly anticipated Qatar 2022 World Cup gets underway, here is a preview and some predictions. This World Cup is the first to take place in the winter, due to the weather conditions during the summer being much too hot. The 32 teams competing have been split into 8 groups. Each team will play the other teams in their group once. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Round of 16 which is a bracket. The bracket will break down into the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. Some notable absences in this World Cup are Italy (who won the Euros), Nigeria, Chile, Columbia, Egypt, and Norway.
Group A has Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, and the Netherlands. Qatar is the host and received automatic qualification. If it wasn’t for that, Qatar (In my opinion) wouldn’t be playing in this World Cup. Ecuador is a team that I think is okay, but I don’t think they will contest Senegal and the Netherlands enough to make it to the next round. Senegal and the Netherlands, are two evenly matched teams. Senegal feature Sadio Mane, their star player, who recently moved to Bayern Munich this past summer, he will certainly be a factor in this World Cup. The Netherlands also features a talented squad with players like Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie De Jong, Memphis Depay, and more. I think the group will be a toss-up between The Netherlands and Senegal to come 1st. But, the West African nation will get the job done.
Group B contains England, Iran, the USA, and Wales. England is the favorite in this group and is coming off a bitter loss in the Euro’s final, in which they lost to Italy on penalties. England’s lineup features the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount, and more. The USA this year qualified for the World Cup, as they missed the 2018 edition in Russia. The USA men’s team has had much less success in the World Cup than the USA women’s team. The USA’s squad features lots of young talent such as Christian Pulisic, Giovani Reyna, and Weston McKennie. Now moving on to Iran. Iran could be a challenge for the other three teams. I remember from last year’s World Cup their team played well, nearly making it to the Round of 16, and ending Portugal’s run in the Group Stage. Lastly, we have Wales, who just about made it in by beating Ukraine. Wales’s squad features Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. I think Wales could be a challenging obstacle for the USA and could make it into the Round of 16 over them.
Group C has Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland. The team that most people will have their eyes on in this group is Argentina. Argentina is coming into this World Cup with a Copa America trophy under its belt. This might be Lionel Messi’s last chance at winning the World Cup. Other than Messi, some of the other team members are Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, and Paulo Dybala. Continuing, Poland’s squad has star player Robert Lewandowski. They have a good chance of making it out of the group because of him. Next up is Mexico, who last World Cup defeated Germany advancing to the knockout stage over them. The last team in Group C is Saudi Arabia. Who I don’t think will make an impact and finish last.
Group D has France, Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia. First and foremost let’s talk about the defending World Cup winners, France. France’s squad is loaded with talent. They have the speedster Kylian Mbappe who got paid big time by PSG. They have Ousmane Dembele who has rejuvenated his career under FC Barcelona Coach, Xavi Hernadez. You can’t forget about Karin Benzema who was world-class for Real Madrid. They will be a dangerous team, I can’t see them not topping the group. Denmark had a very good run in the Euros last summer, making it to the semi-finals. It will be interesting to see how Christian Eriksen will play for his country after having a cardiac arrest during one of Denmark’s Euros games. They should do well. Australia will finish 3rd and Tunisia will finish 4th.
Group E has Spain, Germany, Japan, and Costa Rica. Spain is coached by Luis Enrique who has had a good amount of success taking Spain to the Euros semi-finals. The Spanish lineup features talented young players such as Pedri, Ansu Fati, Gavi, and Ferran Torres. They are my pick for 1st Place. Next up is Germany: they will hope to exorcize the demons that haunted them in 2018, where they were grouped. I think Germany will come right behind Spain, Japan will be 3rd and Costa Rica will finish last.
Group F harbors Belgium, Canada, Croatia, and Morocco. Belgium has an experienced core, with an average player age of 27.4 years old. That has them ranked with the 3rd oldest squad out of these 32 teams. So for Belgium, it feels like now or never. This might be their only chance to win a World Cup in a while. That all said, I don’t think Belgium will top their group, they seem to be on the decline. The team that will top the group will be Canada! I picked them because they finished 1st in the CONCACAF World Cup Standings. The second reason I picked them is that the World Cup always has surprises, and they are one of my surprises. Since Canada and Belgium are going through, Croatia will be grouped! If you don’t know Croatia made it to the 2018 World Cup final losing to France. But, this isn’t the same Croatia team we saw last World Cup. Their squad is considerably older. Croatia’s captain, Luka Modric is now 37 years old. Lastly, we have Morocco. Morocco had the misfortune of falling into a very tough group. They have a decent amount of talent with players like Hakimi and Ziyech. But, they will not be able to overcome the other 3 teams in the group.
Group G has Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Brazil is the favorite in this group no doubt about it. They’re also favorites to win the World Cup. There is no doubt in my mind that they won’t finish 1st. Switzerland will finish 2nd, Serbia will finish 3rd, and Cameroon will finish 4th.
Group H has Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea. Portugal is the team that headline this group, with 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo leading the way. Next up is Ghana who will be looking to get their revenge against Uruguay 12 years later. Because of a certain incident…
Now a lot of you readers might be confused… What’s going on here? In the 2010 World Cup Luis Suarez committed a blatant handball. Ghana was given a penalty. They missed. They lost the game. I think Ghana will succeed in getting their revenge and Uruguay will be grouped. The last team in this group is South Korea which features prolific attacker Heung-Min Son. Other than that South Korea doesn’t have enough power to make it through.