FIFA World Cup preview: the tournament heads to Qatar



The 2022 edition of the World Cup will be held in Qatar. Team USA will be participating for the first time since 2014, after missing the tournament in 2018.

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

The FIFA World Cup, arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, has set its groups for the tournament. The tournament does not begin until Nov. 21 and it will run through Dec. 18. Despite normally being held in the summer, it will take place in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar, and due to extreme heat in the desert climate it will be held during more mild weather.

32 teams will participate in the 2022 World Cup. The way the tournament is structured is by first dividing the teams into eight groups of four listed from A-H. Each team will play the other three teams in its group once, and the top two teams from each division will advance to a single-elimination bracket of 16 teams.

Only 29 of the teams have actually qualified. Due to various delays, there are still five games in June to decide the final three spots. Australia will play the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the winner will face Peru in an intercontinental playoff. New Zealand will face Costa Rica in another intercontinental playoff. Finally, the last team from Europe will come from a game between Wales and the winner of Scotland and Ukraine.

For the drawing, the teams were seeded into four pots to draw from. The host, Qatar, and the seven top-ranked teams in the world to qualify were in Pot 1, the next eight in Pot 2 and so on for Pots 3 and 4, with the unspecified teams placed in Pot 4. As the host, Qatar automatically qualified and received the one-seed in Group A, despite only being ranked 51 in the world. Naturally, Group A was the most enviable position due to having the lowest ranked one-seed, and the teams joining Qatar were the Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal.

Group B features England, the United States, Iran and the winner of the last European qualifier. If unable to get into Group A, then Group B was a good consolation prize, because the two teams to advance out of Group B each face a team from Group A. England was fourth in the 2018 World Cup and cruised through its European qualifiers and is the favorite to come out of this group. The United States returns to the World Cup after missing the 2018 edition and finished in third in their qualifiers, but were ranked in Pot 2. Iran dominated its Asian qualifiers and will be a sneaky sleeper team.

Group C has Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia. Mexico was ranked ahead of the United States and was one of three teams from the North and Central American qualifiers in the 2018 World Cup, being joined by Costa Rica and Panama. The favorite will be Argentina, led by superstar Lionel Messi in what could be his final World Cup, but Poland and Mexico are also dangerous. Group D features reigning 2018 champions France, Denmark, Tunisia and the winner of the playoff between Peru and the last team out of the Asia qualifiers.

Group E gets Spain, Germany, Japan and the winner of the playoff between New Zealand and Costa Rica. Germany and Spain are two of the eight teams that have won World Cups and will enter as the favorites. Group F features the third of the North American teams currently in. Canada, despite finishing as the best team in the North American qualifiers, ahead of Mexico and the U.S., which both received Pot 2 rankings, was seeded in Pot 4 and drawn in with 2018 third-place Belgium, 2018 runner-up Croatia and Morocco. This looks like one of the most stacked groups, with Belgium and Croatia as the favorites.

Group G has Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Brazil has never missed the World Cup and has only lost in the group stage once. They will be the group favorite, and as the number one-ranked team in the world, they will be a championship favorite as well. The final group features Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea, with Portugal entering as the favorite, led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

The World Cup has had eight different nations win championships. All of these teams have been either from South America or Europe. Could this be the year a different continent wins a title? Will there be a first-time champion, or will a classic contender add to their resume? Who will be the underdog who makes a run? These questions and more will be answered in November and December.