DOHA, Qatar, April 2 – AFP Sport looks back on each group after Friday’s draw in Doha for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar:
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Qatar, ranked 51st in the world, are participating in their first World Cup but were among the top seeds thanks to their privileged status as hosts. With a home squad under Spain coach Felix Sanchez, they are little known to most. The Netherlands, whose coach Louis van Gaal recently criticized the decision to host Qatar, are hoping to make a big impact when they return after missing out on 2018. Sadio Mane’s Senegal will also be keen to impress after winning their first African Cup of Nations, while Ecuador are back for their fourth appearance in the final.
Group B: England, Iran, USA, winner of the European play-offs
England will be delighted with the draw in a group dominated by the clash between geopolitical rivals Iran and the United States. Iran topped their qualifying group under Croatian coach Dragan Skocic and have been a regular in recent tournaments. They could also benefit from playing so close to home, but the returning USA will be eager to impress with Chelsea’s star Christian Pulisic.
England could also have a local derby to look forward to if Wales or Scotland get through the final European play-off in June, but Ukraine remain in contention.
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Attention is immediately drawn to the clash between Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland. After winning the Copa America last year, Argentina will be among the contenders and this is surely Messi’s last chance to win the World Cup, or even score a goal in the knockout stage.
Poland last appeared in the Round of 16 of the World Cup in 1986 and they face the challenge of qualifying for the last 16 given the presence of Mexico, who made the first knockout round in of the last seven tournaments to lose every time.
They are coached by an Argentinian in the person of Gerardo Martino, while Frenchman Hervé Renard leads the Saudi-ranked underdogs.
Group D: France, play-off winners, Denmark, Tunisia
France were in the same group as Denmark en route to winning the World Cup in 1998 and 2018 but also in 2002 when Les Bleus exited in the group stage. As France defend their trophy, the 11th-ranked Danes are dangerous underdogs after reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020. No team has retained the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.
France were also in a group with Peru and Australia in 2018 and both are still in contention in the intercontinental play-off, as are the United Arab Emirates. The Tunisian team has several players of French origin.
Group E: Spain, play-off winners, Germany, Japan
Spain v Germany on November 27 is the first round tie and the assumption is that it will be crucial to decide who tops the group out of the two former World Cup winners, although that could put them on course to face Brazil in the quarter. -finals. Hajime Moriyasu’s Japan will be hoping to have their say in a country where they won the Asian Cup in 2011. The remaining spot will be filled by the winner of a play-off between Costa Rica and New Zealand and the prospect to go far seems far away. .
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Belgium were the highest ranked national team in the world until recently and finished third in 2018. With Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois, they have plenty of world-class players, but Eden Hazard’s decline was abrupt. They are expected to top the group, with Croatia unlikely to close in on their run to the 2018 final now that Luka Modric is 37 this year.
The Moroccan team is full of European talent like Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi. Canada, led by England coach John Herdman, are in their first World Cup since 1986. They topped CONCACAF qualifying and have excellent Lille striker Jonathan David.
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Brazil were in the same group as Serbia and Switzerland just four years ago. Tite’s side have made it through qualifying and are now aiming for their sixth World Cup. However, it remains to be seen how Neymar, now 30, handles the pressure and whether he stays fit.
Switzerland, who reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, are favorites to qualify with Brazil. Cameroon are back after missing out on 2018 and dramatically beating Algeria in the African play-offs, but they will struggle to go far.
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
At almost 38, this will surely be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last chance to win the World Cup. Still, Portugal have so much talent in their squad that some think they might even be better off without him. They are hoping to avenge a loss to Uruguay in the Round of 16 in 2018 – Uruguay have their own aging star striker in 35-year-old Luis Suarez.
South Korea, with Portuguese coach Paulo Bento, will again struggle to get past the group stage while 60th-ranked Ghana are not the 2010 squad and weren’t supposed to qualify.