FIFA World Cup 2022: Your Guide to the 8 teams and 32 groups | Football News

Ultimately, the Qatar World Cup practically has its closing form. Six days earlier than the opening sport of a event 12 years within the making, the ultimate names had been chosen; the ultimate, tough telephone calls to the dissatisfied had been made; and the previous couple of rosters had been submitted.
A complete of 832 gamers, greater than ever earlier than, will dream of what the following few weeks would possibly convey.
Lots of them have authentic motive to hope: This 12 months’s area is, maybe, a bit of extra open than normal, with the main 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 attainable to get some sense of what Qatar 2022 will appear to be.
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 idea 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 received 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 can be a triumph. Not dropping all three video games can be a hit, too.
Key Query: Félix Sánchez is a brilliant, succesful coach who has crafted a trendy, technical group, however all of his gamers are based mostly in Qatar and just a few, like Almoez Ali, have even fleeting expertise of taking part in 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 might supplant Colombia and Uruguay to grow to be the continent’s third drive behind Brazil and Argentina.


Ones To Watch: Midfielder Moisés Caicedo shall 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 properly regarded, too.
Key Query: Gustavo Alfaro, Ecuador’s Argentine coach, will consider his group can beat Senegal to second place and a spot within the final 16. However to take action he must establish a dependable supply of objectives from a roster whose expertise in protection and midfield just 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 properly balanced as any within the competitors, the normal favorites aside. Édouard Mendy is an elite goalkeeper, Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of many sport’s best defenders for a decade, there’s an abundance of business 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 sport forward of the World Cup after taking what his coach described as “a blow to the pinnacle 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 inclined to do fairly properly after they get to worldwide tournaments nowadays. Getting there has proved to be the laborious 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 closing 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 not 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 spot, it’s up entrance, the place Memphis Depay stays the one confirmed scorer. It could be a very good time for Cody Gakpo, the PSV Eindhoven sensation, to return good on his promise.


Ambition: England has been constructing to this event off the sector 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 must 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: Over the past 12 months, 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 actual 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 gifted technology of attacking gamers, and that England’s goals shall be undone by a scarcity of both ambition or self-confidence. He should weigh the rewards of chopping free in opposition to the danger of exposing his group’s vulnerabilities.
Pedigree: Iran has missed solely two World Cups since 1998, establishing itself as certainly 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 lifelike ambitions of ending that hoodoo, thanks largely to its attacking pair of Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi.


The Coach: Effectively-traveled Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz returned earlier this 12 months 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 event 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 various gamers have risked breaching group guidelines by posting statements of assist for the dissidents. It isn’t clear, at this level, if everybody in Iran would regard success as one thing to have fun.
United States
Pedigree: After an premature intermission, america is again. The humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 event — after an unbroken streak stretching again to 1990 — signifies that coach Gregg Berhalter’s group has nearly no expertise of taking part in 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 technology of gamers makes up for in publicity to Europe’s main leagues (and, certainly, the Champions League). Christian Pulisic could 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 must be possible.
Key Query: The obvious concern is who, precisely, will rating. A extra urgent inquiry could be whether or not Berhalter’s choice to present youth its day is prioritizing the long run on the expense of the current. The U.S. shall 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, nevertheless it 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 event 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. Beneath them, there are inexperienced shoots, together with the likes of Brennan Johnson and Neco Williams, however for now all the pieces nonetheless hinges on the veterans.
Key Query: Bale’s choice to maneuver to LAFC in MLS this summer time was seen as an try to ensure his health for the World Cup. It has not fairly labored like that — he was absent excess of the membership anticipated — however he did sub on and rating a vital equalizer within the MLS Cup closing. Wales will hope Bale has a number of extra flashbulb moments left.
Pedigree: For the primary time for a technology, 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 secure pair of (Lionel Messi) palms, however has succeeded the place so many others have (Lionel Messi) failed and crafted a cogent aspect from (Lionel Messi) Argentina’s wealthy pool of expertise.


Ambition: No person has actually talked about it, and it is vitally a lot not on anybody’s minds, particularly not in Argentina, however this may apparently be the final World Cup to function a small man from Rosario. There’s a basic, unstated sentiment that it could be good for him to log out with a win.
Key Query: There isn’t a level beating across the bush on this one: The entire sporting storyline of this event — 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 might need been a breeze for coach Hervé Renard’s group, however Saudi Arabia’s popularity as certainly one of Asia’s powerhouses is in flux. Whereas it received its first sport 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 brilliant appointment for a rustic that has to take advantage of a squad drawn solely from its home league. The sense stays, although, that departing the event with a greater file than Qatar is all that issues.
Key Query: There are solely two groups within the event and not using a single participant in a significant European league: the host nation and Saudi Arabia. Obtained knowledge would make that an insurmountable impediment to successful a sport, 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 dropping each the Nations League and the Gold Cup to its northern neighbor.
Ambition: Something, actually, that isn’t elimination within the spherical of 16. That has been Mexico’s destiny in every of the previous seven tournaments. Martino’s process is to make sure there’s 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 journey on the result of Mexico’s assembly with Poland, a sport 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 shall be examined.
Ambition: Poland could have set its sights on beating Mexico to second place within the group — or making the most of 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 possible be his final World Cup, too. For the primary time — due to the emergence of Piotr Zielinski and Nicola Zalewski — it’s attainable to consider he has a worthy supporting solid.
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 strategy to trend a group that enables Lewandowski to shine? Poland has the best pure striker on the planet. The problem has all the time been discovering a strategy to let him present it.

Pedigree: France is the reigning champion and, for all of the romance hooked up 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 consider it might probably finish that run.
The Lacking: Deschamps has known as up 11 of the gamers who received 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 taking part in sources 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 idea 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 laborious manner by successful two playoffs — in opposition to the United Arab Emirates after which Peru — after failing to qualify for one of many 4 computerized slots from Asia.

Ambition: Australia might now be a mainstay of the World Cup, nevertheless it has not really received a sport on the event since 2010. Altering that file 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 target, 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 solid as Australia’s subsequent star.
Pedigree: There shall be a temptation to explain Denmark as a darkish horse, nevertheless it 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 may be 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 sector in the course of 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 can by no means be thought to be a real contender for the title, however it could be no shock to see Hjulmand’s aspect make the quarterfinals, on the very least. That may match the nation’s finest World Cup efficiency.
Pedigree: Tunisia secured a spot in its sixth World Cup in regular, relatively than spectacular, trend. The nation conceded solely two objectives over six video games throughout Africa’s second part of qualifying after which slipped previous Mali in a playoff due to a single aim over two legs. Don’t anticipate the Eagles of Carthage to be a comfortable contact.
Ambition: Being in the identical group as France and Denmark may appear to inhibit Tunisia’s aspirations, however coach Jalel Kadri has vowed to depart if his group is eradicated within the group stage. Not reaching the final 16, he mentioned earlier this 12 months, can 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 probably the most high-profile, however the creative Anis Ben Slimane is an intriguing prospect, too.

Pedigree: Spain’s fall from grace was swift and brutal. The nation produced actually probably 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 technology, 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 interesting proposition, however a lot will rely on Enrique’s threat 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 person needed to wait so long as Costa Rica to seal a spot in Qatar — its playoff victory in opposition to New Zealand accomplished the sector — however that doesn’t imply it must be dismissed as a makeweight. This can be a nation that has reached the quarterfinals extra just lately 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 technology 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 anticipate Costa Rica to repeat its heroics of 2014, when it got here inside a penalty shootout of constructing the semifinals. Its group that 12 months, in spite of everything, was far tougher, 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 bunch 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 by means of with younger expertise.
The Lacking: Germany’s unassuming, widespread coach, Hansi Flick, would possibly, in his gloomier moments, replicate that his sources have been thinned by damage greater than most. Shedding Timo Werner, Marco Reus and Florian Wirtz is a blow, nevertheless it means an opportunity for the likes of Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko, the Borussia Dortmund striker who turns 18 this month.
Key Query: There may be nonetheless a way that Germany is trapped between two generations: the one represented by Thomas Müller, now properly into his 30s, and the one represented by his inheritor for membership and nation, Jamal Musiala. Flick’s process is to construct a group that may intensify one of the best of each.

Ambition: Japan has certified for each World Cup since 1998, usually alternating between elimination within the group part 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 just lately returned residence. At the least in idea, this can be the strongest, most skilled, group Japan has ever taken to a World Cup.
Key Query: If there’s 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 objectives has been an issue for a while. It reveals no signal of assuaging.
Pedigree: It could be simple to dismiss this technology of Belgian gamers as a disappointment; they’ve spent nearly a decade, in spite of everything, being hailed as contenders to win a significant trophy. They may not have received 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 the planet. That’s not unhealthy.

The Story: Belgium’s vivid younger prospects have, by now, grown grey and outdated. Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertonghen are all now the excessive aspect of 30, and Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco are hurtling towards that line. This may very well be one event too many, or it may very well be an excellent final hurrah.
Key Query: For the primary time in years, it doesn’t really feel as if Belgium enters the event beneath any explicit stress. Roberto Martínez’s group has not been talked about as a attainable winner. Hazard and Lukaku have been solid 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 certainly one of soccer’s nice knights errant, oversaw Morocco’s qualification for the event, which means he has now taken 4 groups to the World Cup in an extended, distinguished and adventurous profession. He has, although, really 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 shall be beneath stress to show that was the right choice.
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 by means of a qualifying course of that the U.S. and Mexico discovered notably fraught.
The Stars: Two gamers stand out from the technology that ended Canada’s wait: Alphonso Davies, possible 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 valuable little romance within the group stage draw — Canada has each motive to really feel a bit of harshly handled by destiny — but when Herdman can discover a strategy to unleash Davies and David, specifically, Canada might hassle all three of its illustrious opponents.

Pedigree: For Croatia, reaching the semifinals in 1998, in its World Cup debut, was exceptional sufficient. Getting all the best way to the ultimate 4 years in the past was probably the most astonishing performances within the event’s historical past. Croatia, as a rule, shouldn’t be discounted.
Ambition: Croatia earned its place in Qatar with relative ease, however its displaying in final summer time’s European Championship — the place it was eradicated, in probably the most 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 closing 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, superb sundown.
Pedigree: Brazil final received the World Cup 20 years in the past, a drought the nation usually regards as 16 or so years too lengthy. Tite’s squad is a fearsome one, encompassing the 2 finest goalkeepers on the planet, a miserly protection, an clever and industrious midfield, and a barely absurd ahead line. There isn’t a motive Brazil can not win its seventh crown.

The Star: The supporting solid 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 degree in latest weeks that he’s decided to make it depend.
Key Query: Brazil’s type lately has been formidable, however — thanks partly to the coronavirus pandemic — it has not confronted a European group since March 2019, and it has not confronted certainly one of Europe’s main powers since dropping 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 probably 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 spite of everything, is not any imply feat.
The Star: Midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been probably the greatest 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 identical earlier than each event, and Serbia by no means fairly manages to ship on its promise. The query is: Why?
Pedigree: With minimal fuss, Switzerland has grow to be an admirably widespread function of each World Cups and European Championships. Murat Yakin’s group earned a spot in its fifth straight World Cup by ending on high of a qualifying group that included Italy, the European champion, and it did so with out dropping a sport.
Ambition: Switzerland usually, and accurately, regards reaching the knockout rounds as a form of par end. Historically, it’s then eradicated in probably the most boring sport of the event: Its three round-of-16 video games this century have produced solely two objectives (neither of them for Switzerland). It could 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 properly above its relative weight. Like Belgium, the group of gamers answerable for that success at the moment are previous their primes. This may increasingly show to be a event 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 aim modified all the pieces.
The Star: The profession of Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting is impossibly curious. An also-ran at Stoke Metropolis, a middling form 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 become the pure inheritor to Robert Lewandowski.
Ambition: Below Rigobert Track, a totemic former participant turned inspirational coach, Cameroon completed third at this 12 months’s African Cup of Nations — solely a penalty shootout defeat to Egypt price it a closing on residence soil — and can consider it might probably go away Qatar as one of the best of the African contingent.
Ambition: Portugal will journey to Qatar believing — although probably not verbalizing — that it might probably win the event. Lionel Messi, in spite of everything, just isn’t the one participant with a reputable declare as the best of all time who shall be taking the curtain after this World Cup, and if something Cristiano Ronaldo has a greater supporting solid.
Cristiano Ronaldo: The simmering furor over his therapy at Manchester United this season — the place he has largely been lowered to taking part in within the Europa League, relatively than the Premier League — might have a silver lining. Ronaldo, 37, will definitely not be going into his final World Cup worrying about fatigue.
Key Query: There isn’t a prospect of Fernando Santos, Portugal’s gruff, stubborn coach, even enthusiastic about making an attempt to construct a group that doesn’t heart on Ronaldo, which suggests he should confront the problem that has foxed three Manchester United coaches: learn how to intensify his advantages whereas masking his drawbacks.
Pedigree: Qualification was a bit of nerve-racking 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 totally in 2018 — to Qatar.
The Story: Otto Addo, the final of these three coaches, has seen his sources 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 kids will outline how Ghana fares in what’s, admittedly, a tricky 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 totally different to Brazil’s. This event proved one too many for the mastermind of that rise, although, with the avuncular, beloved Óscar Washington Tabárez dismissed midway by means of 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 technology: Liverpool’s electrical, unformed Darwin Nuñez; Barcelona’s Ronald Araújo; and, most of all, the irrepressible Federico Valverde.
Key Query: Tabarez’s alternative, Diego Alonso, guided Uruguay to Qatar with out a lot fuss. How he fares shall be decided by the extent to which he’s ready to belief the long run, relatively than counting on the previous.
South Korea
Pedigree: England, France, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands have all missed the World Cup extra just lately than South Korea, which has now made each finals since 1982, even when qualification this time round was rather less easy than regular.
The Star: Barely two weeks earlier than its opening sport, 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 sport with a fractured cheekbone. Son has assured followers he shall be able to play. The lingering worry is that he might not fairly be at his thrilling finest.
Key Query: South Korea might need contributed probably the most memorable moments in Russia 4 years in the past — eliminating Germany — however its outcome was nonetheless a disappointment. The query this 12 months would be the identical because it was then: Does Son have sufficient of a supporting solid to shine?

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