World Cup draw: Endless possibilities following matchups in Doha


There are now 232 days until the opening game of the World Cup and we learned on Friday who would face who as the group stage draw took place in the Qatari capital.

Delegates from around the world flew in as former players such as Cafu, Tim Cahill and Ali Daei took part in the draw ceremony that saw 29 confirmed nations discover their fate while three play-off contenders also discovered what could potentially be ahead for them.

The draw threw up plenty of exciting and intriguing groups and while there probably is not a ‘group of death’ as such, almost every country will fancy their chances of having some sort of success in November.

Group A

Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

So we finally found out what the opening game will be and it is the hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador. It won’t look like a thriller on paper but it will give the debutants some belief that they can get off to a decent start.

African champions Senegal taking on the Netherlands looks like one of the group stage highlights and both will fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages. A final game clash between Ecuador and Senegal could well decide qualification.

Group B

England, Iran, USA, Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

Well, this was certainly the group for lovers of narrative.

On paper, it appears to be quite a nice draw for England but without knowing who will come through the play-off in June, it is hard to draw too many conclusions.

The USA and England have played out some memorable World Cup games in the past while Iran famously saw off the States in 1998 for a first-ever World Cup victory.

The prospect however of a battle between two home nations on the biggest stage is mouth-watering and with it being the final group game, there could be a lot on the line.

Group C

Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

A nice group appeared for Lionel Messi on what will probably be his last shot at winning the tournament. Argentina will be hopeful of topping the group with none of the other three sides having much success in recent editions.

Mexico and Poland will know their opening clash will go a long way to who will advance while Saudi Arabia would appear unlikely to get anything in what is quite a daunting group for the Middle Eastern side.

Mexico’s quest for a fifth match at a World Cup would most likely see them up against France in the last 16 in what would be an enormously difficult encounter for the North Americans.

Group D

France, UAE/Australia/Peru, Denmark, Tunisia

Should Peru or Australia make it through the intercontinental play-off in June, Group D will see three-quarters of the participants in Group C from 2018 in the same group once more.

France came through that group en route to winning the tournament back then and Les Bleus and Denmark will be feeling confident of a repeat result four years on.

Tunisia will be looking to cause an upset somewhere and build on their victory over Panama in 2018.

Look out for the matchday two clash between France and Denmark where a Danish win would throw everyone’s knockout predictions up in the air and open up the draw. It always happens somewhere and that could be the game that does it.

Group E

Spain, Costa Rica/New Zealand, Germany, Japan

Spain against Germany on November 27th is the standout fixture of the group stage draw but it has the look of a clash that will decide first place in the group, rather than knock a giant out.

Both sides will be confident of seeing off Japan and whichever of Costa Rica or New Zealand come through in June.

Japan may seek inspiration from neighbours South Korea however, who knocked the Germans out in 2018.

Group F

Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Two of the semi-finalists from Russia in 2018 will come together in the group stages as Belgium and Croatia lock horns in Group F.

The pair will face off in the final group game and should either slip up in advance of that, we could well see one of the more fancied European sides going home.

Morocco impressed in 2018 without winning while Canada will face Belgium in their first World Cup match since 1986. They may just believe their fairytale run could continue into the knockout stages.

Group G

Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Another group that is almost a carbon copy from 2018 only this time Cameroon will take the place of Costa Rica.

Brazil came out on top on that occasion while Serbia and Switzerland played out a controversial clash that saw the Swiss come from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a late winner from Xherdan Shaqiri.

They will meet in the final group game which could essentially be a winner-takes-all clash.

Cameroon are not going to make up the numbers though and will make for dangerous opponents after their dramatic late win over Algeria to qualify.

Group H

Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Uruguay will have the face up to the ghosts of World Cups past in Group H.

The South Americans knocked South Korea out in the last 16 in 2010 while they did the same to Portugal in Russia four years ago.

But the real battle for revenge will take place on matchday two when Ghana seek redemption after Luis Suarez and the handball controversy from the 2010 quarter-final.

This has the appearance of quite an open group and while Portugal will back themselves to win it, history has shown that they could just as easily finish bottom.

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