Five Group-Stage Fixtures To Get Excited About Ahead Of The 2022 World Cup

Five Group-Stage Fixtures To Get Excited About Ahead Of The 2022 World Cup

As we approach the end of the European football season, many fans already have their sights set on the Intercontinental World Cup qualifiers, which will decide once and for all who will make it to Qatar. The likes of Scotland and Wales will be vying for a place in their first World Cup this century, with both enjoying a chance to play at a major tournament in the Euros already, but a place on the plane to Qatar will really feel like once in a lifetime experience.

Despite the usual summer slot changed to late November due to the extreme weather in the Middle East, there is plenty of excitement for this year’s World Cup, to the detriment of the domestic league season. Club football might take a different shape over the first few months, with players wanting to stay injury free in order to represent their countries. Nonetheless, we’re in for an exciting five weeks in Qatar, and the group stages are about as unpredictable as they can get.

Clubmates will be pitted against each other, and as usual, there’s always the chance of an underdog to shock everyone that makes a bet on football throughout the early fixtures in the group stages. Read on, as we look at five of the most exciting fixtures to keep your eye on at the World Cup.

Netherlands vs Senegal – Group A

The Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal just about edged out Egypt in the World Cup qualifiers and will get a chance for their golden era to show what they’re about in a competitive group with the Netherlands, Qatar and Ecuador. Their fixture against the Dutch, who are playing in their first tournament since finishing third in 2014, could be decisive in who tops the group, and it will be interesting to see the battle between Liverpool colleagues Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mané if the 29-year-old continues to operate as a striker for his country.

Argentina vs Poland – Group C

The main talking point in this one will be the battle between Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski. The pair will go head-to-head in what will probably be the last time we see Paris Saint-Germain’s magician at his peak in a World Cup.

Despite his domestic form, Messi finally found international success having won the Copa América last summer and will want to right the wrongs of 2014, where he carried his country to within an inch of the history books.

Lewandowski has been equally free scoring for Bayern Munich and will want international success to bolster his Ballon d’Or bid over Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah.

France vs Denmark – Group D

These two sides actually met in an almost identical group with Australia in Russia 2018, the tournament that France went on to win. This will be their first defence of the World Cup and while their matches against Tunisia and either Peru, Australia or the UAE look routine for both European sides, this one looks a much closer affair.

The French were underwhelming at the Euros last summer while Denmark overachieved, and with talisman Christian Eriksen hopefully back in the side, the Danes could well sneak top spot if they can replicate the fairy-tale run they enjoyed that summer.

Spain vs Germany – Group E

Having enjoyed their own golden era in the late 2000s, Spain have looked a shell of their former selves in the last few international tournaments, and a win against Germany could be exactly what they need for their next generation to start a strong run of form. That won’t be easy though as the Germans begin life under Hansi Flick, who won the treble with Bayern Munich in 2020 and is regarded as one of the most tactically astute coaches around. Expect a close affair between two sides with solid international reputations.

Portugal vs Uruguay – Group H

It is likely this will be the last World Cup for Cristiano Ronaldo. The legend of the game turns 38 next season and while still looking at peak athletic performance, there’s only so long he can balance club football with international responsibility. As much as CR7 would love to bow out with a World Cup, Uruguay stand between them, and first place in Group H. With an abundance of talented strikers like Edinson Cavani, Darwin Núñez and Luis Suárez, the South Americans could have too much for an ageing Portuguese squad.

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