Qatar World Cup: Your information to the 13 European groups competing at soccer extravaganza


How did World Cup qualification go?

Belgium didn’t lose any of their qualifying video games for the World Cup, coming high of a gaggle containing Wales and the Czech Republic. 

What sort of kind is Belgium in?

On the World Cup 4 years in the past, Belgium beat England in a play-off match to come back third, their best-ever event. 

Since then, the group has misplaced a few of its high gamers who have been nicknamed the “golden technology”, similar to ex-Manchester Metropolis star Vincent Kompany. 

However there may be nonetheless high quality and the group’s pleasant in opposition to Egypt in Kuwait on Friday might be a possibility to get some good outcomes earlier than the World Cup.

Who’s Belgium’s star participant?

Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is a genius, he can do every thing with a ball sooner than his opponent. Nonetheless, the actual fact he can do every thing additionally places plenty of strain on his shoulders. 

Who’s Belgium’s shock package deal?

Leandro Trossard is in nice form. He has scored targets in opposition to Manchester Metropolis and Chelsea this season, in addition to a hat-trick in opposition to Liverpool.

What three phrases would you employ to explain Belgium’s nationwide soccer group?

Wall. Expertise. Creativity.

Wall, as a result of now we have Thibaut Courtois from Actual Madrid in objective, who’s inconceivable to get previous. Expertise, as now we have eleven gamers who’re over 30 years outdated. And at last, I’d say creativity.

How properly do Belgians suppose your nationwide group will do in Qatar?

There isn’t an excessive amount of strain on the group, which ends up in barely much less ambition and expectations. This sentiment can be linked to the truth that the group is getting older.

[Words: Belgium football journalist Sven Claes, as told to Estelle Nilsson-Julien]


What sort of kind is the Croatian group in? How did World Cup qualification go?

The qualifiers have been wobbly and the pinnacle coach, Zlatko Dalić, was trying to find the fitting formation. However qualification for the World Cup was by no means existential, regardless of an surprising loss to Slovenia. Croatia is quietly optimistic and there aren’t plenty of query marks surrounding the group.

Who’s Croatia’s star participant?

I’d say Luka Modrić. He’s 37 and nonetheless in nice form. He’s the captain and chief of the group.

Who may very well be Croatia’s shock package deal?

The group is an efficient mix of latest faces and older extra skilled ones. Defender Josip Šutalo may very well be a shock, he’s a teenager from Prva HNL membership Dinamo Zagreb.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Croatia’s nationwide soccer group?

For techniques, let’s go along with: direct as potential. Croatia is present process a slight transition when it comes to techniques. In 2018 they have been fairly a counter-attacking group, now they’re extra inclined to seize the ball because of some tactical tweaks.

How properly do Croatians suppose your nationwide group will do in Qatar?

The hangover from the 2018 silver medal is gone and that is very uncommon for Croatia. They’re fairly lifelike and the primary milestone might be to get out of the group stage. After that, because the 2018 World Cup confirmed us if the draw is beneficial then you definitely would possibly anticipate one thing. Nonetheless, the principle objective is actually to get out of the group stage. 

[Words: Croatian football journalist Juraj Vrdoljak, as told to Estelle Nilsson-Julien]


What form is the Danish group in? How did World Cup qualification go?

The Danish group is in an excellent state of affairs, they have been near-perfect in qualification till they misplaced to Scotland. The truth that they bought to the semi-finals within the European Championships actually lifted the nation.

Who’s Denmark’s star participant?

Christian Eriksen is the mind of the group. He’ll play a extra superior function for Denmark than he does for Manchester United. He’s a extremely inventive participant.

Who’s Denmark’s shock package deal?

I’m undecided how a lot of a shock he’s, however Jesper Linstrom. He’s the Danish offensive participant in the very best form, having been improbable currently for Frankfurt. My concern is he might not get sufficient recreation time to point out his expertise.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Denmark’s nationwide soccer group?

The group is versatile, mature and constructive. There are plenty of senior gamers with worldwide caps. The group can be now not seen as “little Denmark” – rivals are conscious that the times the place they may flip up and simply beat Denmark, are over.

How properly do Danish followers suppose your nationwide group will do in Qatar?

The one strain is to get out of the group levels. I believe everybody expects Denmark to complete second behind France, while beating Tunisia and Australia. The draw has been unkind, nevertheless, I believe the Danish gamers grow to be higher as quickly as they placed on the nationwide shirt. In different nations similar to England, this isn’t the case.

[Words: Sports journalist Liam Barker, as told to Estelle Nilsson-Julien


How did World Cup qualification go?

After the frustration of dropping to Italy within the ultimate of Euro 2020, England picked themselves as much as breeze by way of their World Cup qualifying group, which included groups of various high quality, from Poland and Hungary to Andorra and San Marino.

What kind is the English facet in?

World Cup qualifying might have been stress-free, however England’s kind since reserving their place in Qatar has been massively worrying.

They crashed out of the Nations League high group, the place they misplaced 4-0 at residence to Hungary.

Supervisor Gareth Southgate argued that he was experimenting together with his group forward of the way more necessary World Cup, however followers are involved in regards to the group’s kind and the health of a few of their high stars. Striker Harry Kane, for instance, has began 13 video games in 43 days for his membership Tottenham Hotspur, a fixture schedule condensed to make room for a winter World Cup.

Who’s England’s star participant?

Harry Kane is England’s star participant and the person followers anticipate to ship on the large stage. Two extra targets in an England shirt in Qatar will see him equal Wayne Rooney’s file whole of 53 for the nationwide facet.

Who may very well be England’s shock package deal?

It will not be a shock to followers of Borussia Dortmund, however 19-year-old Jude Bellingham may very well be England’s shock package deal

He has been the star performer in current matches, regardless of the group’s poor kind.

One other wildcard may very well be Leicester Metropolis midfielder James Maddison, whose targets and assists in a struggling Premier League group propelled him into Southgate’s squad on the final minute.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain England’s nationwide soccer group?

Conservative. Pragmatic. Passionate.

How properly do English followers suppose your nationwide group will do in Qatar?

The current poor kind has seen unrest amongst some England followers over Southgate’s techniques, which they see as conservative and unlikely to reach the larger matches.

Others although would argue current outcomes are only a blip in what has been a profitable interval in cost for Southgate, who, in stark distinction to his predecessors, has succeeded in making a membership ambiance when gamers flip up for England responsibility.

If England does fail to triumph in Qatar, it will not be as a result of the gamers aren’t taking part in for the supervisor.

[Words: Chris Harris]


How did World Cup qualification go?

The qualifying marketing campaign went properly. France completed unbeaten and high of their group with a six-point lead over second-placed Ukraine.

What sort of kind is France in?

Coach Didier Deschamps has solely chosen 11 gamers from France’s World Cup-winning 2018 squad for the event in Qatar. 

Some, similar to Blaise Matuidi, have retired from worldwide soccer. Others — Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté — are injured.

Prolific striker Karim Benzema has not featured a lot for Actual Madrid in current weeks amid “a number of little health points”. 

Replace: Benzema has now withdrawn from the event.

Who’s France’s star participant?

Much more than in 2018, the star of the French group is Kylian Mbappé. Season after season, the PSG striker is breaking data. This 12 months, he grew to become the youngest participant in historical past to succeed in 40 targets within the Champions League.

Who may very well be France’s shock package deal?

The shock is extra in how the group might be arrange. Within the absence of full-backs Jonathan Clauss and Lucas Digne, it’s doubtless France will in all probability not play with three defenders.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain France’s nationwide soccer group?

Defending. World. Champions.

How properly do the French suppose your nation will do in Qatar?

As in lots of nations, the query of a boycott of the World Cup in Qatar has grow to be extra urgent in current weeks. Many main cities have introduced that they won’t arrange an enormous display screen to point out the video games. However a current ballot confirmed that 60% of French individuals would watch the World Cup. 

As for his or her group’s efficiency, the French are divided, with probably the most pessimistic imagining a return residence within the group stage. On this respect, the statistics are likely to level in that course, since solely Brazil (in 1962) and Italy (in 1938) have managed to retain their title. 

Cautious, French president Emmanuel Macron introduced that he would solely go to Qatar if France reached the semi-finals.

[Words: Vincent Coste]


How did World Cup qualification go?

The qualification went properly. Germany completed first of their group with just one defeat and 9 factors forward of North Macedonia.

What sort of kind is Germany in?

Their kind has fluctuated to some extent. With the brand new nationwide coach, Hansi Flick, they managed a commanding qualification, however within the UEFA Nations League, they solely completed third. 

Within the final qualifying match earlier than the World Cup, they managed a laborious 1-0 win in opposition to Oman.

Flick must do with out the injured Timo Werner and Florian Wirtz. The weak point stays the defence, the place solely defender Antonio Rüdiger appears to be in good kind.

Who’s Germany’s star participant?

The DFB group doesn’t have an actual star participant in its ranks. Goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer is taking part in his fourth World Cup event. The group additionally depends on the expertise of “oldie” Thomas Müller. In whole, seven Bayern Munich gamers make up the group’s axis.

Who may very well be Germany’s shock package deal?

In assault, 17-year-old Yossoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund has been nominated; he’s the youngest participant within the DFB group since Uwe Seeler. If every thing goes properly, he may presumably make his worldwide breakthrough.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Germany’s nationwide soccer group?

One. Event. Workforce. [a reference to Germany often going into a tournament struggling but always seeming to perform above expectations]

How properly do the Germans suppose your nation will do in Qatar?

In Germany, many individuals are boycotting the event: they are saying they won’t watch the World Cup in any respect or will watch it in a really restricted manner.

On the final two tournaments (World Cup 2018, Euro 2021), Germany solely carried out fairly mediocrely. 

The followers don’t see the group as the large favourites, however they hope that they’ll return to the glory of earlier instances. 

[Words: Sebastian Zimmermann]


What sort of kind is the Dutch group in? How did World Cup qualification go?

The Dutch head into the World Cup in higher kind than every other main European nation. 

Since supervisor Louis van Gaal returned in the summertime of 2021, the group have gained 11 and drawn 4 of their 15 matches, with the highlights being a 4-2 win in opposition to Denmark and a 4-1 win in opposition to Belgium.

They topped their World Cup qualification group forward of Turkey and Norway. 

Who’s the Netherlands’ star participant?

An important participant within the group is Frenkie de Jong. He is been wonderful since Van Gaal took over and has regarded higher than ever at membership stage for FC Barcelona lately. 

Virgil van Dijk and Memphis Depay are additionally key gamers, however De Jong is the heartbeat of the facet in midfield and might management matches on his personal.

Who’s the Netherlands’ shock package deal?

Cody Gakpo wasn’t well-known outdoors of the Netherlands at the beginning of 2022, however that’s shortly altering. Enjoying for PSV Eindhoven, the 23-year-old ahead has immediately contributed to extra targets than every other participant in Europe’s main leagues this season and appears set to hitch one of many world’s largest golf equipment.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain the Netherlands’ nationwide soccer group?

Thrilling. In-form. Underrated.

How properly do Dutch followers suppose the nationwide group will do in Qatar?

There’s actual optimism surrounding this group. The squad is filled with thrilling younger skills similar to Gakpo and Xavi Simons and is led by arguably the nation’s greatest-ever supervisor. 

Nonetheless, if every thing pans out as anticipated, the Netherlands will face maybe the one two groups in higher form than them, Argentina and Brazil, within the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. 

If they’ll get previous the South Individuals although or keep away from them altogether, there isn’t any different group the Dutch concern and there’s no purpose why they can not grow to be World Champions for the primary time.

[Words: Dutch football expert Finley Crebolder, as told to Estelle Nilsson-Julien]


How did World Cup qualification go?

Poland got here second in England’s World Cup qualification group, which noticed them drawn in opposition to Russia of their first play-off match to succeed in Qatar. 

However, in mild of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a rustic bordering Poland, Warsaw refused to play the sport.

Soccer world governing physique FIFA later disqualified Russia from the event. 

Poland have been then drawn in opposition to Sweden, who they beat 2-0 to succeed in Qatar, regardless of having a brand new coach, Czesław Michniewicz, following Paulo Sousa’s resignation.

Who’s Poland’s star participant?

Robert Lewandowski, who performs for FC Barcelona, is Poland’s all-time high goalscorer and standout star. However the 34-year-old, who spent eight years at Bayern Munich earlier than transferring to Spain, will not be surrounded by the identical calibre of participant on the nationwide stage. 

Who may very well be Poland’s shock package deal?

Central defender Jakub Kiwior who performs for Spezia Calcio in Italy has solely made 4 appearances for Poland’s nationwide group however he’s much more skilled than his age exhibits.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Poland’s nationwide soccer group?

It is a troublesome one, however I’d go along with: hardworking, missed and unpredictable.

How properly do Polish followers suppose the Polish nationwide group will do in Qatar?

Expectations are at all times comparatively excessive and the large hope is to beat Mexico within the first recreation of the group stage. Most individuals hope the group will get into the second spherical but it surely’s doubtless that they gained’t get a lot additional. 

[Words: Polish football writer and journalist Ryan Hubbard, as told to Estelle Nilsson-Julien]


How did World Cup qualification go?

Not nice. After a clumsy 0-0 draw with the Republic of Eire, Portugal wanted only a draw at residence to Serbia to qualify. However they misplaced and needed to qualify through the playoffs, beating Turkey and North Macedonia, who had earlier knocked Italy out. 

What sort of kind is Portugal in?

Portugal, probably the greatest groups in Qatar, are aiming to win the event in what is extremely more likely to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final World Cup. 

Their kind will not be nice however the majority of the squad performs in the very best European leagues, together with the Champions League. Many have been taking part in properly, together with the trio from Manchester Metropolis — Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva — and AC Milan’s Rafael Leão.

It is also unclear what affect Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview may have on his kind – and Portugal’s possibilities — in Qatar.

Who’s Portugal’s star participant?

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most important title however at 37 years outdated, he’s clearly on the downward trajectory of his profession. Bernardo Silva is the opposite one that may have event if the coach lastly understands find out how to profit from his expertise behind the strikers.

Who may very well be Portugal’s shock package deal?

Rafael Leão, João Palhinha (Fulham) and Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton) may all be massive surprises.

Striker Leão, who stars for Italian champions AC Milan, was voted the very best participant in Serie A final 12 months, proving to be deadly together with his velocity, clear assists and targets. 

Palhinha is a typical quantity 6 taking part in within the Premier League, the place he is displaying defensive aggressiveness, good passing abilities and the power to attain targets. 

Nunes is a midfielder that may flip a defensive state of affairs into an attacking play in only one physique transfer. He is robust in possession and intense in defence.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Portugal’s nationwide soccer group?

Proficient. Balanced. Skilled.

How properly do the Portuguese suppose your nation will do in Qatar?

Portuguese persons are by nature optimistic in terms of soccer. Now we have probably the greatest groups on the earth — if not the greatest — if we take a look at it place by place. 

However there’s additionally the inconsistency of the group performances, in a position to present nice performances or to frustrate the supporters with performances far under the extent these gamers have proven at their golf equipment.

Nonetheless, profitable each a European Championship and a Nations League since 2016 is what counts ultimately. 

Ronaldo is the large star however he’s additionally typically seen by supporters as the large downside as teammates at all times look to him when issues go unsuitable. Sadly, he isn’t the participant he was 10 years in the past. 

Individuals are not so assured in regards to the nationwide coach and rather a lot suppose Fernando Santos shouldn’t be the supervisor. That is as a result of in some matches he’s attempting to make sure the group would not lose, fairly than profit from its attacking riches. 

[Words: Francisco Marques]


How did World Cup qualification go?

Serbia certified unbeaten in a gaggle containing Euro 2016 champions Portugal. They gained six instances, together with 2-1 in Lisbon.

What sort of kind is Serbia in?

After qualification, Serbia took their good kind into the Nations League, topping their group and profitable their final 5 matches. 

Dragan Stojković, nicknamed Pixi, a legend of Serbian soccer, grew to become coach in 2021 and reworked the nationwide group’s recreation. 

Serbia began to grow to be extra offensive and rating extra targets, permitting the likes of striker Aleksandar Mitrović to hit high kind. 

He scored eight targets within the World Cup qualifiers and 6 within the Nations League.

Who’s Serbia’s star participant?

A number of gamers stand out: Fulham ahead Aleksandar Mitrović, Juventus striker Dušan Vlahović and captain Dušan Tadić, who performs for Ajax. They’re the engine of the group. With fifty targets in simply 76 video games, Mitrović is Serbia’s most prolific-ever striker. 

Nonetheless, followers are anxious about accidents to Mitrović and Vlahović.

Who may very well be Serbia’s shock package deal?

Srđan Babić, 26, and 21-year-old Strahinja Eraković — the one participant from the Serbian nationwide league in Serbia’s World Cup squad — may very well be the shock packages. 

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Serbia’s nationwide soccer group?

Offensive. Assured. Combative.

How properly do Serbians suppose your nationwide group will do in Qatar?

There’s euphoria and an actual “soccer fever” within the nation. That is right down to qualifying for Qatar, the current performances on the pitch and the model of play launched by supervisor Dragan Stojković. 

Regardless that Serbia has been drawn in the identical group as Brazil, followers are optimistic.

Stojković stated this was regular.

“The gamers are conscious of their accountability, and we’re going to Qatar utterly relaxed,” he stated. “In a particularly robust competitors, we certified for the event with model. 

“Solely malicious individuals can discover flaws. It’s what it’s. I do not like pointless pleasure, however I do like essential modesty.”

[Words: Aleksa Boljanović]


What sort of kind is Spain in? How did World Cup qualification go?

Spain booked their place on the Qatar World Cup by ending high of their qualification group. 

Nonetheless, an surprising defeat to Sweden put Spain’s first-place place in danger proper till the final second. 

It was the same state of affairs within the Nations League, the place Spain completed high of their group however solely on the final minute because of a late winner in opposition to Portugal, within the ultimate fixture. 

Who’s Spain’s star participant?

Probably the most gifted participant is Pedri adopted by rising star Gavi.

Spain has a gaggle of actually gifted gamers however lacks a world star, in comparison with the previous once we had gamers like Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Casillas, Villa and Puyol.

The true star of the group is the coach Luis Enrique. He has constructed a group in accordance with his model the place he is the principle determine. Generally he is been criticised for selecting gamers that he likes independently of their kind or if there are different gamers taking part in in the identical place and performing higher. 

Nonetheless, regardless of all of this, Luis Enrique managed to take the group to the ultimate of the final Nations League regardless of the group’s youth, one thing that gave him plenty of credit score amongst Spanish followers.

Who may very well be Spain’s shock package deal?

Ansu Fati may actually be the distinction. He missed a number of matches due to an harm in the beginning of the season together with his membership FC Barcelona. He was additionally not known as as much as play for Spain in current video games, a call that noticed some criticise supervisor Luis Enrique. That solid doubt on Fati being within the World Cup squad, however ultimately, he made the minimize. He is a “completely different” participant with the expertise to grow to be a world-class ahead. He is bought the power to alter the course of a match, to attain targets the place no person sees an opportunity. All in all, he is bought the expertise wanted to be a brand new star, however no person can assure it.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Spain’s nationwide soccer group?

Possession. Posssesion. Possession.

How properly do Spaniards suppose your nationwide group will do in Qatar?

No person is certain. Seeing the gamers now we have, let’s imagine that Spain is a step behind different favourites, similar to Brazil and France. However we additionally know that now we have sufficient expertise to even win. We noticed how we made it to the ultimate of the Nations League and we have been overwhelmed solely due to a controversial objective. Due to that, followers don’t rule out the opportunity of making simply an “common” World Cup nor the opportunity of changing into World Champions. We really suppose we will win. 

[Words: Manuel Terradillos]


How did World Cup qualification go?

Switzerland completed high of their qualifying group, forward of Italy, who needed to undergo the playoffs to succeed in Qatar. In an enormous shock, the Euro 2020 winners misplaced to North Macedonia.

What sort of kind is Switzerland in?

The vast majority of the group is in fine condition besides for 2 essential gamers, goalkeeper Yann Sommer and midfielder and captain Granit Xhaka. The primary is recovering from a foot harm and the second a abdomen downside. 

There’s additionally a query mark over striker Xherdan Shaqiri, who has not performed because the elimination of his Chicago Fireplace group from the playoff race for the US soccer championships, Main League Soccer, final October.

Who’s Switzerland’s star participant?

Captain Granit Xhaka, who has as soon as once more grow to be indispensable for his English membership Arsenal, is the star of this group. Different high performers are AS Monaco striker Breel Embolo and Noah Okafor, the rising star of Swiss soccer.

Who may very well be Switzerland’s shock package deal?

Swiss coach Murat Yakin has surprisingly known as up 4 goalkeepers for Qatar. With Yann Sommer and Jonas Omlin not 100% match, Fabian Rieder, 20, from Younger Boys Bern, may very well be thrown in on the deep finish. 

How properly do the Swiss suppose their nation will do in Qatar?

Switzerland is in a troublesome group, with Brazil, Cameroon and Serbia. For a lot of Swiss supporters, it might be good to qualify for the subsequent spherical, the rest could be a “bonus”.

[Words: Vincent Coste]


What form is the Welsh group in? How did the World Cup qualification go?

Wales completed second in a qualifying group together with Belgium and the Czech Republic, that means they needed to undergo the play-offs to succeed in the Qatar World Cup.

After beating Austria, Wales performed their final qualifying match in opposition to Ukraine. The stress was loopy. On the one hand, Wales hadn’t certified for the World Cup since 1958, and on the opposite, the whole world was on Ukraine’s facet, due to the battle. 

By way of gamers, there have been a number of accidents within the Welsh camp because the begin of the season, together with Gareth Bale and Harry Wilson. Midfielder Joe Allen made the squad regardless of not having performed since September due to a hamstring harm.

Who’s Wales’ star participant?

I must say Gareth Bale. Should you ask Welsh followers they may say the identical factor. He is aware of find out how to lead the group, and even supposing he’s 33 years outdated, he nonetheless manages to do issues on the pitch that no person else can.

Who may very well be Wales’ shock package deal?

It depends upon how intently you comply with Welsh soccer, however for the skin world, I’d say Brennan Johnson. He performs for Nottingham Forest within the Premier League and is a improbable expertise.

Which three phrases would you employ to explain Wales’ nationwide soccer group?

Counter-attack, courageous and resolute. They’re a group who places their our bodies on the road to win.

How properly do Welsh followers suppose the group will do? What are expectations?

We haven’t been to a World Cup in 64 years, simply getting there for some individuals is totally large. However, we’ve managed to get out of the group stage on the final main tournaments we’ve been at. 

[Words: Glen Williams, Cardiff City correspondent at Wales Online, as told to Estelle Nilsson-Julien]

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