World Cup information: Groups and gamers to observe

Doha, Qatar

In simply over 24 hours, Qatar 2022 will burst into life because the host nation takes on Ecuador within the opening recreation of the World Cup.

It is a match that has induced controversy ever because it was awarded to the Gulf nation in 2010 however, after years of ready, the gamers are making the ultimate touches to their preparations.

Whereas off-field points proceed to make headlines, from the deaths of migrant employees and the circumstances many have endured in Qatar, to LGBTQ and girls’s rights, and the actual fact no alcohol shall be offered at stadiums, the on-field motion guarantees to be unpredictable and thrilling.

Right here is all it’s essential to know concerning the 32 nations competing and the gamers who might dazzle.

Solely eight nations have ever gained the lads’s World Cup, lots of that are among the many favorites this time round.

Brazil holds the data for many titles, having lifted the trophy 5 occasions, and the brand new era has an actual likelihood of including one other for what could be the nation’s first in 20 years.

The attacking choices converse for themselves. As he has accomplished since stepping onto the world stage, Neymar will carry the expectations of a nation however can have Actual Madrid’s Vinicuis Jr. and Barcelona’s Raphinha to assist him.

There’s high quality all around the pitch, not least in protection, the place Chelsea’s skilled Thiago Silva and Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos will doubtless type a protect for Liverpool’s goalkeeper Allison.

Brazil additionally has a powerful report to boast, profitable or drawing 28 of its previous 29 matches, the one loss coming in opposition to Argentina within the Copa America last in 2021 and can really feel assured of reaching the knockout rounds. It faces a comparatively simple group stage, in opposition to Switzerland, Cameroon and Serbia.

Alongside Brazil, you’ll be able to’t ignore France.

The reigning world champion breezed by qualifying with out shedding a recreation and has Kylian Mbappe maturing into a world famous person.

Nevertheless, plenty of accidents in key positions might hurt its possibilities. Star striker Karim Benzema has been dominated out on the eve of the match, whereas the midfield duo of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante – so pivotal to its success in 2018 – miss out. Nevertheless, central defender Raphael Varane has been included within the squad after recovering from damage.

Nielsen’s Gracenote predicts Brazil has a 20% likelihood of profitable the competitors, with Argentina, boasting the good Lionel Messi in his squad, the subsequent probably to raise the trophy with an 18% likelihood.

Simon Gleave, head of research for Gracenote Sports activities, mentioned: “No different groups have been anyplace close to as constant during the last 4 years as the 2 South American giants and this consistency means that there’s a good likelihood of considered one of them prevailing.”

It is uncommon that an underdog wins the World Cup however it’s not inconceivable.

Denmark has its new golden era. After being knocked out by England within the Euro 2020 semifinals, the crew waltzed by World Cup qualification, profitable 9 of its 10 matches and conceding solely three targets.

Manchester United playmaker Christian Eriksen is arguably his most vital participant and his return to the crew is nothing wanting a miracle.

Eriksen collapsed throughout Denmark’s recreation in opposition to Finland at Euro 2020 and obtained life-saving therapy on the pitch earlier than being fitted with a Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) system.

Such trauma appeared to unite the crew and the Danes shall be a troublesome proposition for anybody in Qatar.

Elsewhere, Senegal is arguably the perfect African crew on the match – ​​even with out Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, who misses out by damage.

‘The Lions of Teranga’ gained the African Cup of Nations for the primary time earlier this yr and have a bunch of star names enjoying in Europe’s prime leagues.

Though Mane shall be a large loss, the crew is now not simply counting on its captain.

Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy is a prime class goalkeeper and Kalidou Koulibaly is used to coping with the perfect attackers in Europe. It additionally has the horrifying tempo of rising star Ismaila Sarr to lean on.

No African crew has ever made it to the semifinals of a World Cup however this Senegal aspect has an opportunity, albeit very slim, ought to the draw be variety.

Senegal celebrated winning the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

A few of the greatest gamers on this planet shall be on present in Qatar and, for a lot of, it is presumably the final likelihood they should get their fingers on the well-known trophy.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the best gamers to have performed the sport, however neither have had success on the most important worldwide stage.

Messi has already confirmed this shall be his final World Cup and, given he’ll be over 40 when the subsequent match comes round, it is secure to say Ronaldo is unlikely to play one other.

Each are already their nation’s prime goalscorers and each have an affordable likelihood of going far within the match.

Away from the established superstars, although, this may be a match that finds some lesser-known skills.

Along with making its World Cup debut, Qatar is a comparatively unknown amount with most of its gamers spending their careers within the nation’s prime league. The exception is attacker Akram Afif.

The wideman spent temporary spells in Belgium and Spain earlier than returning to Qatar and signing for Al Sadd in 2020. The 25-year-old has since developed into an thrilling playmaker and backs up his trickery with effectivity.

Afif made 11 assists in the course of the crew’s Asian Cup win in 2019 and at the moment has eight assists in simply seven appearances in Qatar’s prime division. He is one to observe within the opening recreation.

One other rising star is Japan’s Takefusa Kubo.

The playmaker, 21, has realized his commerce at a few of soccer’s most prestigious colleges, spending time in Barcelona’s youth academy earlier than becoming a member of Actual Madrid in 2019.

He is since left the Spanish capital however has excelled at Actual Sociedad this season. He shall be an vital participant in Japan’s World Cup marketing campaign and has already been dubbed the ‘Japanese Lionel Messi’ again residence. No strain, then.

Qatar's Akram Afif could be exciting to watch for the hosts.

American star Gio Reyna might additionally change into a world star.

The 19-year-old, whose mom and father each performed worldwide soccer for the US, joined German membership Borussia Dortmund in 2019 from New York Metropolis’s youth academy and has made massive strides, getting loads of recreation time in current weeks after lacking plenty of video games final season with damage.

Talking to CNN in 2020, Ghana’s supervisor and former Dortmund youth coach Otto Addo mentioned Reyna’s capability was clear from an early age.

“It is his method underneath strain,” he mentioned. “To make no errors underneath strain, to alter path underneath strain and to speed up within the midfield.

“He additionally has recreation intelligence, to place himself at all times between the strains, to learn the sport and he is aware of what’s subsequent. He brings lots, far more than different gamers from his age group.”

Gio Reyna could make an impact with the US if he manages to stay fit.

The match kicks off on November 20 with Qatar dealing with Ecuador on the Al Bayt Stadium. The knockout phases then begin on December 3, earlier than the ultimate takes place on December 18.

US: Fox Sports activities


Australia: SBS

Brazil: Sport TV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media

South Africa: SABC

Listed here are a few of the key dates, together with Messi and Ronaldo’s first video games of the match and all USMNT group fixtures.

Nov 20: Qatar vs. Ecuador – 4pm, Fox Sports activities 1

Nov 21: USMNT vs. Wales – 7pm, Fox

Nov 22: Argentina vs. Saud Arabia – 10am, Fox Sports activities 1

Nov 24: Portugal vs. Ghana – 4pm, Fox

Nov 25: England vs. USMNT – 7pm, Fox

Nov 29: Iran vs. USMNT – 7pm, Fox

Dec 18: World Cup Remaining – 3pm, Fox


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