World Cup Preview Part One

The most coveted sports competition in the world is just around the corner, so it’s time to dive into the group stage draws of the 2022 World Cup and make our predictions.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cover Image
By Ying Chen

The 2022 World Cup is just two months away, and the excitement has already started! Since France won the 2018 World Cup, all the squads have gone through major changes, and it will be interesting to see which team brings the title home at Qatar. This tournament is likely to be the last World Cup for legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, yet it will be the first for promising young talents like Darwin Núñez, Pedri, and Phil Foden. The brackets for the group stages have been drawn, and there is a lot to unravel before the first match on November 20.

Group A:

Netherlands (Favorites) — The favorites for this group are none other than the Netherlands. Big names like Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, and Frenkie de Jong make the Dutch team a force to be reckoned with. Despite having poor luck in past international competitions, this promising squad will aim to make a deep run in this year’s edition.

Senegal (Challengers) — The current champion of the African Cup of Nations is expected to make it through the group stages and could put up a fight for the title. Forward Sadio Mane and defender Kalidou Koulibaly are only two of the talented players in the Senegalese team, which will surely leave its mark on the tournament.

Ecuador (Underdogs) — Ecuador plays the opening day match of this year’s tournament against the host, Qatar, and could make it through the group stages provided the team performs well against its tough opponents.

Qatar (Wild Card) — Underestimating Qatar might turn out to be a big mistake for anyone brave enough to do so. Though the host country is one of the lowest FIFA-ranked nations in the World Cup, playing on your home soil fuels a whole new breed of motivation. Based on Russia's deep run as the host country in the 2018 edition and their narrow exit to Croatia on penalties in the quarterfinals, Qatar could follow this example to be the tournament’s biggest wild card.

Group B:

England (Favorites) — Chants of “Football’s Coming Home” still echo through the streets of England. The fifth FIFA-ranked team in the world will want to come back from its loss in the Euro 2020 final with a second World Cup to its name. After Euro 2020 champion Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup, England is one of the favorites to dominate and potentially win the tournament, but first, they must deal with their tough opponents in the group stage.

USA (Challengers) — The USA has participated in every World Cup from 1990 to 2014, yet it has never made it to the finals. The team also failed to qualify for the 2018 competition, much to the disappointment of American fans. However, it could all change this time around. The squad, led by Christian Pulisic, has shown promising signs recently, and with a CONCACAF Gold Cup win last year, the team could bring the country to its first World Cup title.

Wales (Underdogs) — Wales has a very well-rounded and established team with superstar captain Gareth Bale, experienced midfielder Aaron Ramsey, and promising youngster Neco Williams. The recent controversies surrounding manager Ryan Giggs are no reason to underestimate Wales heading into the contest.

Iran (Wild Card) — Iran is another one of the Asian powerhouses in this year’s tournament, and the team will be aiming to put up a strong fight in its group. After topping the World Cup Qualifiers Group A over the likes of South Korea, Iran’s recent form will make circumstances interesting in this group.

Group C:

Argentina (Favorites) — Messi. The one and only name that every Argentinian is thinking of ahead of the competition. After winning his first major international trophy at 2021 Copa America, the PSG superstar is in fiery form as he looks to add the greatest prestige in soccer to his name. Backed by an incredible team, including the likes of forwards Lautaro Martínez and Ángel Di María, this Argentinian side is aiming to conquer the world.

Mexico (Challengers) — The Mexican team finds itself in a difficult group with Poland and Argentina but will surely put up a fight and is expected to make it through the group stages, unless the underdogs can surprise them.
Poland (Underdogs) —
Prolific striker and Poland’s captain Robert Lewandowski needs no introduction after his sensational form for Bayern Munich and now FC Barcelona. Provided Poland’s team can step up when it’s needed most, Lewandowski’s side could shock its opponents in Group C.

Saudi Arabia (Wild Card) — Saudi Arabia will face a Messi-inspired Argentina and Lewandowski-led Poland in Group C, hoping to cause an upset against some of the best.

Group D:

France (Favorites) — The winners of the last World Cup are looking stronger than ever heading into the tournament. After bouncing back from a disappointing Euro exit with a Nations League trophy, the French squad will be spearheaded by star forwards Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema, with a powerful lineup behind them to support. The emergence of young talents like Aurélien Tchouaméni has bolstered the team over the past few months, making France one of the biggest challengers for the title this year.

Denmark (Challengers) — Denmark can be seen as the Group D challengers and face reigning world champion France. Captain Kasper Schmeichel’s side is definitely up to the task after a solid performance at the latest Euro 2020 tournament, where Denmark narrowly lost to a very strong England team in the semifinals.

Tunisia (Underdogs) — The Tunisian squad finds itself in a tricky situation with France and Denmark to contend with. If talents like Manchester United youngster Hannibal Mejbri can perform on the big stage, then coach Jalel Kadri’s side could stun the Group D favorites.

Australia (Wild Card) — Australia finds itself in the same group as France and Denmark for a second consecutive World Cup. After a poor showing against its tough opponents at the 2018 tournament, the team could prove to be the deciding factor in whether the World Cup curse strikes France in this year’s contest. The curse became prominent in the 2000s, when the defending champions failed to make it out of the group stages in the 2002, 2010, 2014, and 2018 tournaments.

The first four groups already look thrilling, with electrifying matchups such as England vs. USA and France vs. Denmark. Stay tuned for the second part of the World Cup preview to visit Groups E, F, G, and H, and see what’s in store there!