With the qualifiers out of the way, the 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage draw was held over the weekend, giving us a glimpse of the action that’ll follow in November. With 29 teams cementing booking their place in Qatar, and three to yet qualify the stage is ready for the biggest sporting event in the world. In case you missed out on the draw, here are the top five clashes we’re excited about.
The current AFCON champions will be taking the challenge to Virgil van Dijk-led Netherlands, in one of the most highly-anticipated fixtures of the competition. The fixture will also see Van Djik facing his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane on the opposite side of the turf. Add in a mix of names such as Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, and you have a recipe for an action-packed 90 minutes.
On paper, the Brits may seem a bit too excited about facing an “easier” foe in the form of the United States. However, let’s not forget that back in the 50s, the Americans pulled one of the biggest upsets in the history of the World Cup by overcoming the Three Lions. Then again in 2010, the two countries were tied to a 1-1 draw in South Africa.
Just like the Group A fixture, the United States vs. England will also feature two teammates playing against each other in the form of Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount along with Reece James.
Perhaps making his final World Cup appearance will be Lionel Messi, who recently led Argentina. In what might be his final push for the title, the current Ballon d’Or winner will go up against arguably the best striker in the world, Robert Lewandowski.
On the other hand, Lewandowski has a lot to prove from his snub at last year’s Ballon d’Or to proving his doubters wrong, after a disappointing performance back in 2018.
Despite lacking star power, Spain put on an impressive display in last year’s Euro. Improving on that front, under coach Luis Enrique, the team will be aiming to reach the closing stages of the tournament.
The biggest obstacle in its way, for now, is Germany, which is now led by ex-Bayern coach, Hansi Flick. With attacking power consisting of Thomas Muller, Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, the Germans do have the arsenal to blow the Spaniards away. This clash of titans is one to look out for.
Along with Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo too will be on a mission to lift the cup before calling it quits. The Manchester United star also has the chance to become the first player to score in five World Cups. While the Portuguese team boasts of many talented individuals in the form of Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota, it remains to be seen if they can work in cohesion to push Portugal’s campaign forward.
Facing them will be one of the dark horses of the competition, Uruguay, who eliminated the Portuguese back in 2018. Under their new coach Diego Alonso, and veterans in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay does have the potential to give us another upset.