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FIFA World Cup 2022: Your Information to the 8 teams and 32 groups | Soccer Information

Eventually, the Qatar World Cup practically has its remaining form. Six days earlier than the opening recreation of a match 12 years within the making, the ultimate names have been chosen; the ultimate, troublesome telephone calls to the upset have been made; and the previous few rosters have been submitted.
A complete of 832 gamers, greater than ever earlier than, will dream of what the following few weeks may deliver.
Lots of them have official motive to hope: This yr’s subject is, maybe, slightly extra open than common, with the key European powers which have dominated for twenty years threatened by Brazilian and Argentine revivals and menaced by a powerful contingent from Africa. It’s too quickly, after all, to know the way it will go, however it’s potential to get some sense of what Qatar 2022 will seem like.
Pedigree: It isn’t simply that Qatar had by no means certified for a World Cup. Qatar had by no means actually come near qualifying for one. For all of the work the nation has carried out to make sure it has a group able to at the least competing, in principle there has by no means been a extra overmatched host.


Ambition: Qatar ought to at the least go into the competitors in good spirits: It has gained every of its final 5 video games, although whether or not victories over Nicaragua, Guatemala and Albania are worthwhile preparation for assembly the Netherlands and Senegal is open for debate. Making it to the spherical of 16 could be a triumph. Not shedding all three video games could be a hit, too.
Key Query: Félix Sánchez is a great, succesful coach who has crafted a classy, technical group, however all of his gamers are based mostly in Qatar and just a few, like Almoez Ali, have even fleeting expertise of enjoying in Europe. A lot hinges on whether or not his teaching can bridge that hole.
Pedigree: Ecuador has quietly established itself as one thing of a drive in South American soccer lately, qualifying for 4 of this century’s six World Cups. With a pipeline of younger expertise beginning to flood into Europe, Ecuador could supplant Colombia and Uruguay to turn into the continent’s third drive behind Brazil and Argentina.


Ones To Watch: Midfielder Moisés Caicedo will likely be acquainted to those that comply with the English Premier League — his type for Brighton has seen him linked with strikes to Liverpool and Chelsea — however defenders Angelo Preciado and Piero Hincapié are nicely regarded, too.
Key Query: Gustavo Alfaro, Ecuador’s Argentine coach, will imagine his group can beat Senegal to second place and a spot within the final 16. However to take action he should determine a dependable supply of targets from a roster whose expertise in protection and midfield isn’t matched in assault.
Pedigree: Africa has not produced a quarterfinalist since Ghana’s encounter with Uruguay and Luis Suárez in 2010. Senegal — which made it that far in its World Cup debut in 2002 — has the standard to interrupt that streak. Coach Aliou Cissé’s group arrives in Qatar not simply because the continent’s champion, however its standard-bearer.
Ambition: Cissé’s squad is arguably as nicely balanced as any within the competitors, the normal favorites aside. Édouard Mendy is an elite goalkeeper, Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of many recreation’s most interesting defenders for a decade, there may be an abundance of trade within the midfield, and the assault was to be led by Sadio Mané. The final 16 ought to actually be the minimal.


Key Query: A lot was hinging on the well being of Mané. He was subbed out throughout Bayern Munich’s penultimate recreation forward of the World Cup after taking what his coach described as “a blow to the top of his shin.” On Nov. 17, his nationwide federation dominated him out of the World Cup.
The Netherlands
Pedigree: As a rule, the Dutch are likely to do fairly nicely after they get to worldwide tournaments nowadays. Getting there has proved to be the exhausting half: After reaching the ultimate in 2010 and the semifinals in 2014, the Netherlands was not even current in Russia 4 years in the past. Coach Louis van Gaal’s group is making an attempt to make up for misplaced time.
Ambition: Van Gaal was in cost in 2014, too, when his tactical acumen managed to take a far much less well-equipped squad inside a penalty shootout of reaching a second remaining in 4 years. This time, he has a protection constructed round Virgil van Dijk and a midfield orchestrated by Frenkie de Jong. And he’s Louis van Gaal, so he’ll see no motive that he can’t win the entire thing.
Key Query: The gamers left behind — Sven Botman, Ryan Gravenberch, Arnaut Danjuma — point out the standard of the Dutch squad. If there’s a weak point, it’s up entrance, the place Memphis Depay stays the one confirmed scorer. It will be a great time for Cody Gakpo, the PSV Eindhoven sensation, to come back good on his promise.


Ambition: England has been constructing to this match off the sphere for nearly a decade: The Football Affiliation set successful the 2022 World Cup as a goal as way back as 2013. That has lengthy since been disregarded as coverage, however in follow England needs to be a contender. It reached the semifinals in 2018 and made the ultimate of the European Championship in 2021. Its time is coming.
The Shock: During the last yr, supervisor Gareth Southgate has been accused of being too loyal — primarily to Harry Maguire — and never loyal sufficient, principally to Trent Alexander-Arnold. Each are on the group this time, however the true shock was the inclusion of James Maddison, the Leicester Metropolis playmaker who has been studiously ignored for many of Southgate’s tenure.
Key Query: The suspicion, in England, is that Southgate is simply too cautious to utilize a proficient era of attacking gamers, and that England’s desires will likely be undone by a scarcity of both ambition or self-confidence. He should weigh the rewards of reducing unfastened in opposition to the danger of exposing his group’s vulnerabilities.
Pedigree: Iran has missed solely two World Cups since 1998, establishing itself as considered one of Asia’s 4 nice powers. It has by no means made it previous the group stage, successful solely two of its 15 video games, however this iteration has practical ambitions of ending that hoodoo, thanks largely to its attacking pair of Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi.


The Coach: Nicely-traveled Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz returned earlier this yr after the dismissal of Dragan Skocic, the Serbian who had masterminded Iran’s qualification. Queiroz oversaw Iran’s World Cup campaigns in 2014 and 2018. This time, he’s assured he can get the nation to the knockout stage.
Key Query: Iran’s preparations for the match have been overshadowed by the protests sweeping the nation within the aftermath of the mid-September loss of life in police custody of Mahsa Amini, and quite a few gamers have risked breaching group guidelines by posting statements of help for the dissidents. It isn’t clear, at this level, if everybody in Iran would regard success as one thing to rejoice.
United States
Pedigree: After an premature intermission, america is again. The humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 match — after an unbroken streak stretching again to 1990 — signifies that coach Gregg Berhalter’s group has nearly no expertise of enjoying at a World Cup. Whether or not that’s good or unhealthy stays to be seen.
Ambition: What the U.S. lacks in worldwide expertise, this era of gamers makes up for in publicity to Europe’s main leagues (and, certainly, the Champions League). Christian Pulisic is likely to be the golden boy, however the likes of Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Gio Reyna have all earned their spurs. A spot within the final 16 needs to be possible.
Key Query: The obvious concern is who, precisely, will rating. A extra urgent inquiry is likely to be whether or not Berhalter’s determination to present youth its day is prioritizing the long run on the expense of the current. The U.S. will likely be among the many youngest groups on the World Cup. The hope could also be that pays dividends on residence soil in 2026.


Pedigree: Wales has waited 64 years for this second. The nation had not certified for a World Cup since 1958, but it surely has been on the rise for the higher a part of a decade, reaching the semifinals of the European Championship in 2016 after which returning to the match 5 years later.
The Final Hurrah: The 2 key figures within the Welsh renaissance, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, are each unquestionably within the autumn of their careers, seeing out their time at Los Angeles FC and Good, respectively. Under them, there are inexperienced shoots, together with the likes of Brennan Johnson and Neco Williams, however for now the whole lot nonetheless hinges on the veterans.
Key Query: Bale’s determination to maneuver to LAFC in MLS this summer season was seen as an try to ensure his health for the World Cup. It has not fairly labored like that — he was absent way over the membership anticipated — however he did sub on and rating a vital equalizer within the MLS Cup remaining. Wales will hope Bale has just a few extra flashbulb moments left.
Pedigree: For the primary time for a era, Argentina goes right into a World Cup (Lionel Messi) because the reigning South American champion (Lionel Messi). The coach, Lionel Scaloni, inherited the job as a protected pair of (Lionel Messi) fingers, however has succeeded the place so many others have (Lionel Messi) failed and crafted a cogent facet from (Lionel Messi) Argentina’s wealthy pool of expertise.


Ambition: No one has actually talked about it, and it is extremely a lot not on anybody’s minds, particularly not in Argentina, however this may apparently be the final World Cup to characteristic a small man from Rosario. There’s a basic, unstated sentiment that it will be good for him to log off with a win.
Key Query: There isn’t any level beating across the bush on this one: The entire sporting storyline of this match — for everybody — is whether or not Messi will be capable to win his first World Cup title, and Argentina’s third, at his final try.
Saudi Arabia
Pedigree: Qualification may need been a breeze for coach Hervé Renard’s group, however Saudi Arabia’s repute as considered one of Asia’s powerhouses is in flux. Whereas it gained its first recreation at a World Cup finals for 20 years in 2018, that got here after lacking out on each 2010 and 2014. The Saudis haven’t even made the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup since 2007.
Ambition: The canny, skilled and open-neck-shirted Renard is a great appointment for a rustic that has to profit from a squad drawn completely from its home league. The sense stays, although, that departing the match with a greater report than Qatar is all that issues.
Key Query: There are solely two groups within the match with no single participant in a serious European league: the host nation and Saudi Arabia. Obtained knowledge would make that an insurmountable impediment to successful a recreation, not to mention qualifying for the final 16. Saudi Arabia should disprove it.


Pedigree: For all of the fretting over america’ path to Qatar, it was Mexico — ordinarily a shoo-in for the highest spot in CONCACAF — that made heavy climate of qualification. Gerardo Martino’s group did not beat both the U.S. or Canada, residence or away, and people failures adopted Mexico’s shedding each the Nations League and the Gold Cup to its northern neighbor.
Ambition: Something, actually, that’s not elimination within the spherical of 16. That has been Mexico’s destiny in every of the previous seven tournaments. Martino’s activity is to make sure there may be not an eighth. Ideally, he would do this by making the quarterfinals, not by being eradicated within the group stage.
Key Query: A lot will trip on the end result of Mexico’s assembly with Poland, a recreation that had the air of a straight shootout nearly as quickly because the draw was made. In Hirving Lozano, Edson Álvarez and Raúl Jimenez, Mexico has the expertise. Its nerve will likely be examined.
Ambition: Poland could have set its sights on beating Mexico to second place within the group — or benefiting from any jitters that set in amongst Argentina’s gamers — and attending to the knockout stage for the primary time since 1986.
The Story: Robert Lewandowski is to Poland what Messi is to Argentina. It doesn’t matter what order he eats his meals in, this may seemingly be his final World Cup, too. For the primary time — due to the emergence of Piotr Zielinski and Nicola Zalewski — it’s potential to imagine he has a worthy supporting forged.
Key Query: Coach Czeslaw Michniewicz faces the identical query that has dogged all of his predecessors over the previous decade or so: Is there a option to trend a group that enables Lewandowski to shine? Poland has the best pure striker on this planet. The difficulty has at all times been discovering a option to let him present it.

Pedigree: France is the reigning champion and, for all of the romance connected to Brazil and Argentina, the presumptive favourite. No group has retained the World Cup since 1962, however the sheer depth of expertise accessible to Didier Deschamps provides France each motive to imagine it might finish that run.
The Lacking: Deschamps has known as up 11 of the gamers who gained the World Cup in Russia, however not Paul Pogba or N’Golo Kanté, each of whom have been dominated out by damage. That leaves Deschamps with the undesirable problem of crafting an entire new midfield on the fly.
Key Query: So wealthy are France’s enjoying assets that it has lengthy appeared just like the nation might ship two squads (at the least) to the World Cup, and each would rank among the many favorites. Pogba and Kanté absences provide an opportunity to see if that principle can survive contact with actuality.
Pedigree: It’s a fifth World Cup in a row for the group that insists on calling itself the Socceroos, although Australia did it the exhausting means by successful two playoffs — in opposition to the United Arab Emirates after which Peru — after failing to qualify for one of many 4 automated slots from Asia.

Ambition: Australia could now be a mainstay of the World Cup, but it surely has not truly gained a recreation on the match since 2010. Altering that report is the naked minimal for coach Graham Arnold. Reaching the knockout rounds, given the group draw, is prone to be a step too far.
Key Query: A lot of the main focus, when Arnold named his squad, was on the omission of two of the nation’s long-standing stalwarts, Trent Sainsbury and Tom Rogic. Much more intriguing, although, was the inclusion of Garang Kuol, an 18-year-old with one cap to his title and a transfer to Newcastle United looming. He has already been forged as Australia’s subsequent star.
Pedigree: There will likely be a temptation to explain Denmark as a darkish horse, but it surely doesn’t fairly match. Kasper Hjulmand’s group reached the semifinals of the European Championship in 2021, certified right here imperiously, and has overwhelmed France twice prior to now 5 months. There’s completely nothing darkish in regards to the Danes.
The Story: Christian Eriksen’s inclusion within the squad would be the most touching story of the entire World Cup. It has been solely 18 months since Eriksen collapsed on the sphere through the European Championship. For months, it appeared unlikely — and largely unimportant — that he would play once more. His return makes Denmark a sentimental favourite.

Ambition: Denmark’s measurement, and its comparative lack of stars, means it’s going to by no means be thought to be a real contender for the title, however it will be no shock to see Hjulmand’s facet make the quarterfinals, on the very least. That will match the nation’s finest World Cup efficiency.
Pedigree: Tunisia secured a spot in its sixth World Cup in regular, fairly than spectacular, trend. The nation conceded solely two targets over six video games throughout Africa’s second section of qualifying after which slipped previous Mali in a playoff due to a single purpose over two legs. Don’t count on the Eagles of Carthage to be a mushy contact.
Ambition: Being in the identical group as France and Denmark might sound to inhibit Tunisia’s aspirations, however coach Jalel Kadri has vowed to go away if his group is eradicated within the group stage. Not reaching the final 16, he stated earlier this yr, could be a “failure.”
Actuality: On paper, Tunisia is probably going the weakest of Africa’s 5 qualifiers, although the squad has been bolstered prior to now few years by an inflow of gamers with Tunisian heritage. Hannibal Mejbri, a combative and charismatic midfielder employed by Manchester United, is essentially the most high-profile, however the ingenious Anis Ben Slimane is an intriguing prospect, too.

Pedigree: Spain’s fall from grace was swift and brutal. The nation produced definitely essentially the most profitable — and arguably the best — nationwide group of all time between 2008 and 2012, successful three consecutive main tournaments, together with its maiden World Cup in 2010. Since then, it has been a bitter disappointment, going out within the group stage in 2014 and within the final 16 in 2018.
The Story: Luis Enrique, the coach, has taken it upon himself to snap Spain out of its nostalgic reverie. Of that nice era, solely Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba stay. The squad is distinctly youthful, and the group is prone to be constructed round Pedri and Gavi, Barcelona’s teen sensations, each younger sufficient to be Busquets’ kids.
Key Query: The freshness of Spain’s squad will make it an enchanting proposition, however a lot will rely upon Enrique’s danger tolerance. Will he throw warning to the wind and unleash Ansu Fati, Nico Williams and Yeremy Pino? Or will the higher recognized qualities of Álvaro Morata show extra interesting?
Costa Rica
Pedigree: No one needed to wait so long as Costa Rica to seal a spot in Qatar — its playoff victory in opposition to New Zealand accomplished the sphere — however that doesn’t imply it needs to be dismissed as a makeweight. This can be a nation that has reached the quarterfinals extra not too long ago than Spain, for instance.

The Coach: Luis Fernando Suárez has already been to the World Cup twice, as soon as with Ecuador and as soon as with Honduras, and his willingness to blood a brand new era of gamers helped invigorate a listless Costa Rica and win a spot in Qatar. A few old-timers, like Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz, stay, however that is now very a lot a group constructed by Suárez.
Key Query: The group stage draw means few count on Costa Rica to repeat its heroics of 2014, when it got here inside a penalty shootout of creating the semifinals. Its group that yr, in any case, was far more durable, at the least on paper: England, Italy and Uruguay. If something, Costa Rica ought to most likely go additional this time.
Pedigree: It’s a curiosity of the draw that Germany ought to discover itself in a gaggle with Spain, given the parallels between the 2. Like Spain, Germany adopted up successful the World Cup, in 2014, with a scarring group stage exit 4 years later. Like Spain, Germany has responded by naming a squad shot via with younger expertise.
The Lacking: Germany’s unassuming, widespread coach, Hansi Flick, may, in his gloomier moments, mirror that his assets have been thinned by damage greater than most. Dropping Timo Werner, Marco Reus and Florian Wirtz is a blow, but it surely means an opportunity for the likes of Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko, the Borussia Dortmund striker who turns 18 this month.
Key Query: There’s nonetheless a way that Germany is trapped between two generations: the one represented by Thomas Müller, now nicely into his 30s, and the one represented by his inheritor for membership and nation, Jamal Musiala. Flick’s activity is to construct a group that may intensify one of the best of each.

Ambition: Japan has certified for each World Cup since 1998, typically alternating between elimination within the group section and an exit within the spherical of 16. The coach, Hajime Moriyasu, has a sufficiently robust squad to see the latter as an achievable purpose, although having to face Germany and Spain doesn’t assist.
Expertise: The overwhelming majority of Moriyasu’s squad now performs in Europe: There are solely seven representatives of J League golf equipment amongst his chosen 26, and two of them have solely not too long ago returned residence. A minimum of in principle, this can be the strongest, most skilled, group Japan has ever taken to a World Cup.
Key Query: If there may be one flaw in Moriyasu’s squad, it’s up entrance. Japan has no scarcity of artistic gamers — Takumi Minamino, Junya Ito, Takefusa Kubo, Daichi Kamada — however discovering a dependable supply of targets has been an issue for a while. It reveals no signal of assuaging.
Pedigree: It will be straightforward to dismiss this era of Belgian gamers as a disappointment; they’ve spent nearly a decade, in any case, being hailed as contenders to win a serious trophy. They won’t have gained one, however they made the semifinals in 2018, and have spent many of the previous 4 years ranked as one of the best group on this planet. That’s not unhealthy.

The Story: Belgium’s shiny younger prospects have, by now, grown grey and outdated. Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertonghen are all now the excessive facet of 30, and Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco are hurtling towards that line. This might be one match too many, or it might be an excellent final hurrah.
Key Query: For the primary time in years, it doesn’t really feel as if Belgium enters the match below any specific stress. Roberto Martínez’s group has not been talked about as a potential winner. Hazard and Lukaku have been forged as yesterday’s males. May that be a blessing?
Pedigree: Morocco has an encouraging steadiness: an stubborn protection flanked by two of the world’s finest fullbacks, Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui; a midfield graced by the scheming of Hakim Ziyech; and an assault spearheaded by Youssef En-Nesyri. Qualification was suitably easy, and expectations are excessive.
The Curse: Vahid Halilhodzic, a Bosnian and considered one of soccer’s nice knights errant, oversaw Morocco’s qualification for the match, which means he has now taken 4 groups to the World Cup in an extended, distinguished and adventurous profession. He has, although, truly coached just one group at a World Cup. Morocco maintained that sample by firing him in August.

Key Query: The rationale behind Halilhodzic’s dismissal was that he had ostracized two of Morocco’s stars, Ziyech and Mazraoui, for disciplinary causes. Now he’s gone and they’re again. Each will likely be below stress to show that was the right determination.
Pedigree: Canada’s aid and delight at qualifying for its first World Cup since 1986 shouldn’t be confused with contentment to journey to Qatar simply to make up the numbers. John Herdman’s group sailed via a qualifying course of that the U.S. and Mexico discovered notably fraught.
The Stars: Two gamers stand out from the era that ended Canada’s wait: Alphonso Davies, seemingly already the best participant the nation has ever produced, and ahead Jonathan David. The remainder of the squad, although, shouldn’t be flippantly dismissed: Stephen Eustaquio, Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin are all thriving within the Champions League.
Key Query: There was treasured little romance within the group stage draw — Canada has each motive to really feel slightly harshly handled by destiny — but when Herdman can discover a option to unleash Davies and David, specifically, Canada could bother all three of its illustrious opponents.

Pedigree: For Croatia, reaching the semifinals in 1998, in its World Cup debut, was outstanding sufficient. Getting all the best way to the ultimate 4 years in the past was one of the astonishing performances within the match’s historical past. Croatia, as a rule, shouldn’t be discounted.
Ambition: Croatia earned its place in Qatar with relative ease, however its exhibiting in final summer season’s European Championship — the place it was eradicated, in one of the chaotic video games in historical past, by Spain within the final 16 — signifies {that a} repeat of 4 years in the past could also be a step too far.
The Story: The core of the group that carried Zlatko Dalic’s group to the 2018 remaining stays in place, together with the apparently ageless Luka Modric. As with a number of different groups, there’s a feeling that Croatia’s stars have gathered within the hope of a golden, wonderful sundown.
Pedigree: Brazil final gained the World Cup 20 years in the past, a drought the nation typically regards as 16 or so years too lengthy. Tite’s squad is a fearsome one, encompassing the 2 finest goalkeepers on this planet, a miserly protection, an clever and industrious midfield, and a barely absurd ahead line. There isn’t any motive Brazil can’t win its seventh crown.

The Star: The supporting forged of Vinicíus Junior, Raphinha and Gabriel Jésus is spectacular, however Neymar shines even amongst Brazil’s enviable assortment of gems. He has admitted that this can be his final World Cup, and he has given the impression on the membership stage in current weeks that he’s decided to make it rely.
Key Query: Brazil’s type lately has been formidable, however — thanks partially to the coronavirus pandemic — it has not confronted a European group since March 2019, and it has not confronted considered one of Europe’s main powers since shedding to Belgium within the 2018 World Cup. That’s the one take a look at it has not handed.
Pedigree: Serbia secured a spot in Qatar in essentially the most dramatic trend possible — Aleksandar Mitrovic’s last-minute header condemning Portugal to defeat in Lisbon — however the emphasis on Portugal’s failure disguised what was a powerful qualifying marketing campaign. Beating out Portugal, in any case, is not any imply feat.
The Star: Midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been top-of-the-line gamers in Italy for 5 years, if not longer. The president of his group, Lazio, values him at $150 million and claims he’s higher than Paul Pogba. At 27, it’s about time he lived as much as that billing on a world stage.
Key Query: Serbia ought to, on paper, be a menace. Its group is drawn largely from Europe’s main leagues; Milinkovic-Savic is a dependable, artistic presence; Dusan Vlahovic, Luka Jovic and Mitrovic present a humiliation of riches in assault. And but that’s the similar earlier than each match, and Serbia by no means fairly manages to ship on its promise. The query is: Why?
Pedigree: With minimal fuss, Switzerland has turn into an admirably frequent characteristic of each World Cups and European Championships. Murat Yakin’s group earned a spot in its fifth straight World Cup by ending on prime of a qualifying group that included Italy, the European champion, and it did so with out shedding a recreation.
Ambition: Switzerland typically, and accurately, regards reaching the knockout rounds as a type of par end. Historically, it’s then eradicated in essentially the most boring recreation of the match: Its three round-of-16 video games this century have produced solely two targets (neither of them for Switzerland). It will be good if, this time, it might go down in a blaze of glory.
Key Query: Switzerland has lengthy been a sort of low-key Belgium: a small nation punching nicely above its relative weight. Like Belgium, the group of gamers accountable for that success are actually previous their primes. This will show to be a match too far.
Pedigree: Cameroon has, impressively, missed out on just one World Cup since 1990, however its presence in Qatar was a close-run factor. As late because the 124th minute of the second leg of its playoff in opposition to Algeria, Cameroon was going out, when Karl Toko Ekambi’s purpose modified the whole lot.
The Star: The profession of Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting is impossibly curious. An also-ran at Stoke Metropolis, a middling type of Premier League membership a decade in the past, he has since performed for each Paris St.-Germain and Bayern Munich, the place he seems to have became the pure inheritor to Robert Lewandowski.
Ambition: Below Rigobert Track, a totemic former participant turned inspirational coach, Cameroon completed third at this yr’s African Cup of Nations — solely a penalty shootout defeat to Egypt value it a remaining on residence soil — and can imagine it might depart Qatar as one of the best of the African contingent.
Ambition: Portugal will journey to Qatar believing — although presumably not verbalizing — that it might win the match. Lionel Messi, in any case, isn’t the one participant with a reputable declare as the best of all time who will likely be taking the curtain after this World Cup, and if something Cristiano Ronaldo has a greater supporting forged.
Cristiano Ronaldo: The simmering furor over his therapy at Manchester United this season — the place he has largely been diminished to enjoying within the Europa League, fairly than the Premier League — could have a silver lining. Ronaldo, 37, will definitely not be going into his final World Cup worrying about fatigue.
Key Query: There isn’t any prospect of Fernando Santos, Portugal’s gruff, stubborn coach, even enthusiastic about making an attempt to construct a group that doesn’t middle on Ronaldo, which implies he should confront the problem that has foxed three Manchester United coaches: the right way to intensify his advantages whereas masking his drawbacks.
Pedigree: Qualification was slightly annoying for Ghana: It required three coaches, a controversial penalty kick and a fraught playoff victory over Nigeria to hold the Black Stars — so near being semifinalists in 2010, however absent fully in 2018 — to Qatar.
The Story: Otto Addo, the final of these three coaches, has seen his assets bolstered by a gradual provide of newly registered, twin nationwide recruits, together with Tariq Lamptey, a Brighton proper again, and Iñaki Williams, the Athletic Bilbao ahead whose brother, Nico, has been included in Spain’s squad.
Key Query: The extent to which Addo succeeds in mixing collectively these new faces with the established figures in his squad — the likes of Thomas Partey and the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan — in addition to an thrilling crop of rising children will outline how Ghana fares in what’s, admittedly, a troublesome group.
Pedigree: For the higher a part of a decade, Uruguay has been South America’s third drive: Certainly, its efficiency over the past three World Cups has not been vastly completely different to Brazil’s. This match proved one too many for the mastermind of that rise, although, with the avuncular, beloved Óscar Washington Tabárez dismissed midway via qualification.
The Stars: A dozen years on from his first encounter with Ghana, Luis Suárez continues to be there. So, too, are the likes of Edínson Cavani and Diego Godín. The veterans are joined, although, by the standard-bearers of a brand new era: Liverpool’s electrical, unformed Darwin Nuñez; Barcelona’s Ronald Araújo; and, most of all, the irrepressible Federico Valverde.
Key Query: Tabarez’s substitute, Diego Alonso, guided Uruguay to Qatar with out a lot fuss. How he fares will likely be decided by the extent to which he’s ready to belief the long run, fairly than counting on the previous.
South Korea
Pedigree: England, France, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands have all missed the World Cup extra not too long ago than South Korea, which has now made each finals since 1982, even when qualification this time round was rather less clean than regular.
The Star: Barely two weeks earlier than its opening recreation, South Korea confronted its nightmare: the sight of Son Heung-min, the Tottenham ahead and the nation’s lone famous person, being faraway from a Champions League recreation with a fractured cheekbone. Son has assured followers he will likely be able to play. The lingering concern is that he could not fairly be at his thrilling finest.
Key Query: South Korea may need contributed one of the memorable moments in Russia 4 years in the past — eliminating Germany — however its end result was nonetheless a disappointment. The query this yr would be the similar because it was then: Does Son have sufficient of a supporting forged to shine?

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