Daniel Kehn is a freshman journalism major and writes columns for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
The 2022 World Cup is finally here and soccer (football) fans around the world are gearing up for another amazing iteration of the most-watched sport on the planet.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting international play, and the host country's intense summer heat, the competition will be held Nov. 21 through Dec. 18 in Qatar. It should be noted that Italy, the defending 2020 Euro champions will not be participating after being eliminated during World Cup Qualifying – this will be the nation's first time missing the World Cup since 1958.
While there are a few national teams whose fate needs to be decided, FIFA has drawn the four-teamed groups for the initial stage of the tournament.
Group A – A little boring
Teams: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands
There is nothing that stands out too much with Group A other than the fact that it houses the 2010 runner up in the Netherlands. The Dutch have fallen from grace since that tournament, however, and have been unable to replicate that form. I would expect the Senegal or Netherlands to top the group, with leniency towards Senegal. Like every group, there will be something to watch, but it won’t be amazing here.
Group B – A true standout
Teams: England, Iran, United States and the UEFA Playoff Winner (Urkaine-Scotland winner vs. Wales)
A strong group on name alone, Group B could prove to be the most entertaining of the groups in Qatar. A young and hungry United States team will be looking to make a mark at the tournament after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. England is coming off of a heartbreaking loss in the Euro 2020 final (held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) to Italy with no players leaving the national team since. The winner of the UEFA playoff is bound to be a wild card team, but I would expect Scotland to scrap into the group. It’s up in the air here so I will play it safe, England to top, United States runner up.
Group C – Two aging teams and an exciting young one
Teams: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland
Of the teams in Group C, Mexico, Poland and Argentina have some major star power with the likes of Leo Messi, Angel Di Maria, Robert Lewandowski, Hirving Lozano and Edson Alvarez. However, Poland had shaky moments in qualifying and Argentina, despite being 30 matches unbeaten, has historically underperformed at the World Cup. Age will catch up to Argentina and Poland while Saudi Arabia’s general lack of quality on the pitch will be their downfall, Mexico has a very good chance to top this group with Argentina most likely making it out with a second-place finish.
Group D – The French earn an easy ride to the knockout stages
Teams: France, Denmark, Tunisia and the AFC-CONMEBOL playoff winner (United Arab Emirates-Australia winner vs. Peru)
No disrespect to the other three teams in Group D, but France is the defending World Champions and after a somewhat disappointing performance at the 2020 Euros, looks to be back in world-beating mindsets. Le Bleu will have young superstar Kylian Mbappé and veteran marksmen Karim Benzema in attack while Hugo Loris will steer the defense from goal – there is not much that can stop this team.
Denmark will no doubt be a team to watch though as team captain Christian Eriksen will be back on the world stage after suffering a cardiac arrest that sidelined him early in his 2020 Euro campaign. Tunisia and either of the three teams still vying for a spot in the group look understaffed and will most likely take the six-match lap before exiting in the group stages.
Group E – The Group of Death
Teams: Spain, Germany, Japan and the CONCACAF-OFC playoff winner (Costa Rica vs. New Zealand)
What I will officially name the 2022 World Cup’s “Group of Death,” there are two dangerous heavy hitters in this group in Spain and Germany along with a solid defense powerhouse in Japan. Add to that true unknowns in Costa Rica and New Zealand and you have what will prove to be the most competitive group of the pack. Spain has been downright awful in international competition in recent years but looks to be back in the running while Germany has been on a steady decline since winning the 2014 World Cup. Germany will be under recently new head coach Hansi Flick who revolutionized Bayern Munich in his two-year stint with the Bundesliga outfit; the Bavarians look completely reinvigorated as an all-around threat and will prove tough competition. I have Germany top and Spain at second.
Everyone will have their eyes on Group E and for good reason, exciting matchup after exciting matchup.
Group F – Slightly disappointing, but we can root for Canada
Teams: Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia
Croatia did make it to the final of the 2018 World Cup, but that was four years ago and their stars are aging rapidly. Belgium ranked No. 1 in the world for a consistent period of time but has seemed to waste it’s golden generation on disappointing international results. Canada is young and bright, making only the second World Cup, and first since 1986. Morocco has some wild card potential, but I do not expect any great things. I will go for the shock with Canada finishing first in Group F and Belgium running up.
Group G – Watch out for Brazil
Teams: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon
Brazil is in a dominant state right now. The South American team is without a doubt one of the scariest teams in the world right now and will be eager to put it on display on the world stage. Switzerland is a tough defensive team and will drag a lot of energy out of their opponents but there is relatively minimal attacking output. Cameroon has always had wild card streaks in international competition and Serbia is a fair unknown shout. I have Brazil topping the group and Switzerland finishing second.
Group H – Should be fun, nothing crazy
Teams: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea
This will be a fun watch. It seems as though Cristiano Ronaldo (along with Argentina’s Messi) will be participating in his final World Cup, a truly sad sight. His Portugal team will be threatening but I believe they have lost their fire. Ghana will be in its first World Cup since 2014 while an aging Uraguay squad and an up and down South Korea team will also be in attendance for Group H. There will be plenty of fun competition, but nothing too crazy. I have Portugal managing a first-place finish in a relatively easy group while Uraguary will somehow finish second.
There you have it, a definitive thought on each of the 2022 World Cup groups. While many sports fans cling to The Masters and March Madness, nothing gets me fired up like 32 national teams fighting for the chance to be the best in the world.
Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @Daniel_Kehn.