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’s a event that has prompted 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 very fact no alcohol shall be bought at stadiums, the on-field motion guarantees to be unpredictable and thrilling.
Right here is all that you must know in regards to the 32 nations competing and the gamers who may dazzle.
Solely eight nations have ever received the boys’s World Cup, a lot of that are among the many favorites this time round.
Brazil holds the data for many titles, having lifted the trophy 5 instances, and the brand new technology 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 executed 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 help him.
There may be high quality everywhere in the pitch, not least in protection, the place Chelsea’s skilled Thiago Silva and Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos will seemingly kind a defend for Liverpool’s goalkeeper Allison.
Brazil additionally has a powerful document to boast, profitable or drawing 28 of its previous 29 matches, the one loss coming in opposition to Argentina within the Copa America remaining 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 possibly can’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, various accidents in key positions may hurt its possibilities. Star striker Karim Benzema has been dominated out on the eve of the event, 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 harm.
Nielsen’s Gracenote predicts Brazil has a 20% likelihood of profitable the competitors, with Argentina, boasting the nice Lionel Messi in its squad, the subsequent almost definitely to carry the trophy with an 18% likelihood.
Simon Gleave, head of research for Gracenote Sports activities, stated: “No other teams have been anywhere near as consistent over the last four years as the two South American giants and this consistency means that there is a good chance of one of them prevailing.”
It’s uncommon that an underdog wins the World Cup however it’s not inconceivable.
Denmark has its new golden technology. 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 its most essential participant and his return to the crew is nothing in need of a miracle.
Eriksen collapsed throughout Denmark’s recreation in opposition to Finland at Euro 2020 and obtained life-saving remedy 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 one of the best African crew on the event – even with out Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, who misses out by harm.
‘The Lions of Teranga’ received the African Cup of Nations for the primary time earlier this 12 months and have a number of star names taking part in in Europe’s prime leagues.
Though Mane shall be an enormous loss, the crew is now not simply reliant on its captain.
Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy is a prime class goalkeeper and Kalidou Koulibaly is used to coping with the easiest 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 facet has an opportunity, albeit very slim, ought to the draw be variety.
A few of the greatest gamers on this planet shall be on present in Qatar and, for a lot of, it’s presumably the final likelihood they need to get their arms 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 largest worldwide stage.
Messi has already confirmed this shall be his final World Cup and, given he’ll be over 40 when the subsequent event comes round, it’s protected to say Ronaldo is unlikely to play one other.
Each are already their nation’s prime goalscorers and each have an inexpensive likelihood of going far within the event.
Away from the established superstars, although, this is also a event that reveals some lesser-known abilities.
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 present has eight assists in simply seven appearances in Qatar’s prime division. He’s one to look at within the opening recreation.
One other rising star is Japan’s Takefusa Kubo.
The playmaker, 21, has learnt his commerce at a few of soccer’s most prestigious faculties, spending time in Barcelona’s youth academy earlier than becoming a member of Actual Madrid in 2019.
He’s since left the Spanish capital however has excelled at Actual Sociedad this season. He shall be an essential participant in Japan’s World Cup marketing campaign and has already been dubbed the ‘Japanese Lionel Messi’ again residence. No strain, then.
American star Gio Reyna may 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 large strides, getting loads of recreation time in latest weeks after lacking various video games final season with harm.
Talking to CNN in 2020, Ghana’s supervisor and former Dortmund youth coach Otto Addo stated Reyna’s capability was clear from an early age.
“It’s his technique under pressure,” he stated. “To make no errors beneath strain, to alter course beneath strain and to speed up within the midfield.
“He also has game intelligence, to position himself always between the lines, to read the game and he knows what’s next. He brings a lot, way more than other players from his age group.”
The event kicks off on November 20 with Qatar going through Ecuador on the Al Bayt Stadium. The knockout levels then begin on December 3, earlier than the ultimate takes place on December 18.
US: Fox Sports activities
UK: BBC or ITV
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 event and all USMNT group fixtures.
Nov 20: Qatar vs. Ecuador – 4pm, Fox Sports activities 1
Noc 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 Closing – 3pm, Fox