Beyond football, USA and Iran are fierce rivals on the world stage and their 2022 World Cup group stage match will be more than soccer……….
With just 18 days to go, fans are eagerly looking forward to the 2022 FIFA World Cup which kicks off in Qatar from the 20th of November to the 18th of December 2022.
The 2022 World Cup will be the 22nd edition of the global mundial and it promises to be exciting and thrilling. Starting from the group stages, there will some mouth-watering encounters you can’t afford to miss.
In this article, FootballOrbit brings you 12 group stage fixtures to keep your eyes on.
Qatar vs Ecuador (Group A)
The opening games of the FIFA World Cup are the curtain-raisers for the tournament and comes immediately after the opening ceremony.
No one wants to miss these two events.
All eyes will be on hosts, Qatar, when they face Ecuador in the tournament opener on November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Qatar is the first ever country to host a World Cup despite having never qualified for a previous edition.
Host nations always get automatic qualification spots.
Only one host nation (South Africa in 2010) has failed to advance past the group stage of the World Cup, and Qatar will try to avoid becoming the second.
Furthermore, 6 hosts have won the tournament — most recently France in 1998.
Qatar have been preparing for this moment for years and won the Asian Cup in 2019.
It also accepted invitations to play in the 2019 Copa America and 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with respectable showings in each competition.
It lost to Argentina 2-0 at the Copa America and reached the Gold Cup semifinals, losing to the United States 1-0.
To stand a chance of getting past the group stage, Qatar need to beat Ecuador in the opening game as the other two teams in Group A are Netherlands and Senegal.
Ecuador — boasting of the likes of Enner Valencia, Pervis Estupiñán and Moises Caicedo — will not be an easy nut to crack for Qatar…….. so grab your popcorn!
Senegal vs Netherlands (Group A)
The second game will be between Senegal and Netherlands on November 21 at the Al Thumama Stadium.
The Teranga Lions of Senegal deservedly won the AFCON trophy for the first time ever this year and knocked out Mohamed Salah’s Egypt to qualify for the World Cup.
Senegal are on the rise and have a strong core of players — the likes of Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye and Ismaila Sarr — that have been playing together for a while.
Netherlands on the other hand, are one of the dark horses, if not favourites, at the World Cup. The Dutch have never won the tournament before.
This match may likely decide who tops the group.
England vs USA (Group B)
Group B features England, USA, Iran and Wales and most of the matches promises to be exciting — majorly for reasons outside football.
On November 25, England will come up against USA at the Al Bayt Stadium and both nations will pause to watch their teams slug it.
The United States famously defeated England 1-0 in a group match of the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. The result is notable as one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history.
Both countries played out a 1-1 draw in another group stage encounter at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
USA vs Iran (Group B)
In one of the most politically tensed matches of the group stages, USA will face Iran on the 29th of November at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Beyond football, both countries are fierce rivals on the world stage and this match is more than soccer……….
England vs Wales (Group B)
England will face United Kingdom neighbours, Wales, on November 29 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium .
Wales will be making their first World Cup appearance in 64 years, having last qualified in 1958.
The Welsh will savour getting one over their English counterparts on their return to football’s premier competition.
Argentina vs Mexico (Group C)
Lionel Messi’s Argentina will square up versus Mexico on the 26th of November at the Lusail Stadium
With the other two teams in the group being Saudi Arabia and Poland; Argentina and Mexico will fancy their chances of topping the group and their meeting may eventually be the decider.
Although Argentina are the favourites, but Mexico tend to prove stubborn against the top teams at the World Cup……remember Germany at the 2018 World Cup in Russia?
France vs Denmark (Group D)
Defending world champions, France, will face Denmark in Group D on November 26 at Stadium 974.
Denmark have been impressive in recent years and made a fairytale run to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 last year.
Their squad includes the likes of Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Thomas Delaney, Philip Billing and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.
France — who will be without Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante — have no room for complacency.
Spain vs Germany (Group E)
In a mouth-watering fixture that seems like a knockout round match, Spain will battle Germany on the 27th of November at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Both nations (who won the 2010 and 2014 World Cups respectively) are among the favourites to win the tournament in Qatar.
Don’t be surprised if Spain and Germany meet again later in the knockout stages.
Belgium vs Croatia (Group F)
On the 1st of December, Belgium will come up against Croatia at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Belgium have a golden generation of players who know that this is probably their last chance to win a major international trophy, while Croatia made a dream run to the final at the last World Cup — losing to France.
Both Belgium and Croatia are among the dark horses in Qatar.
Brazil vs Serbia (Group G)
The most successful team at the FIFA World Cup, Brazil, will face Serbia on November 24 at the Lusail Stadium.
Brazil are the most favourite team to win the tournament but will have to negotiate past a tricky encounter versus Serbia at the group stage.
Serbia boast of experienced and established players like Dusan Tadic, Filip Kostic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Sergej Milinković-Savić, Matija Nastasic and Dusan Vlahović in their squad.
Portugal vs Uruguay (Group H)
Portugal will come up against Uruguay on the 28th of November at Lusail Stadium.
It will be a match between two vastly experienced teams as both nations have a core of players that have been playing together for a while.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Rui Patricio, William Carvalho, Jose Fonte, Joao Moutinho (Portugal) and Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera, Diege Godin and Martin Caceres (Uruguay) will all probably be making the final appearances at the World Cup.
Furthermore, the winner of this match will likely top Group H.
Ghana vs Uruguay (Group H)
Ghana vs Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup is one of the most controversial moments in FIFA World Cup history.
The Ghanaians almost became the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinal, but Luis Suarez controversially cleared the ball off the line with his hand.
Both countries will face up again in Qatar on the 2nd of December at the Al Janoub Stadium in what will surely be an entertaining game.
Remember that Ghana eliminated the Super Eagles of Nigeria to book their place in Qatar.
Which of these matches are you looking forward to the most?