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 prime 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 return third, their best-ever match. 

Since then, the crew has misplaced a few of its prime gamers who had been nicknamed the “golden technology”, reminiscent of ex-Manchester Metropolis star Vincent Kompany. 

However there may be nonetheless high quality and the crew’s pleasant towards 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 all the pieces with a ball sooner than his opponent. Nonetheless, the very fact he can do all the pieces additionally places lots of stress on his shoulders. 

Who’s Belgium’s shock bundle?

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

What three phrases would you utilize to explain Belgium’s nationwide soccer crew?

Wall. Expertise. Creativity.

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 Expertise, as we have now eleven gamers who’re over 30 years outdated.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

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

There isn’t an excessive amount of stress on the crew, which results in barely much less ambition and expectations. This sentiment can also be linked to the truth that the crew is getting older.

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


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

The qualifiers had been wobbly and the top coach, Zlatko Dalić, was trying to find the appropriate 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 lots of query marks surrounding the crew.

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 crew.

Who may very well be Croatia’s shock bundle?

The crew 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 utilize to explain Croatia’s nationwide soccer crew?

For techniques, let’s go together with: direct as attainable. Croatia is present process a slight transition by way of techniques. In 2018 they had been fairly a counter-attacking crew, now they’re extra inclined to clutch the ball due to some tactical tweaks.

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

The hangover from the 2018 silver medal is gone and that is very uncommon for Croatia. They’re fairly life like 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 count on one thing. Nonetheless, the primary purpose 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 crew in? How did World Cup qualification go?

The Danish crew is in an excellent scenario, they had 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 crew. He’ll play a extra superior position for Denmark than he does for Manchester United. He’s a extremely inventive participant.

Who’s Denmark’s shock bundle?

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 incredible recently for Frankfurt. My concern is he might not get sufficient sport time to point out his expertise.

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain Denmark’s nationwide soccer crew?

The crew is versatile, mature and optimistic. There are lots of senior gamers with worldwide caps. The crew can also be not seen as “little Denmark” – opponents are conscious that the times the place they might flip up and simply beat Denmark, are over.

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

The one stress is to get out of the group phases. 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 turn out to be higher as quickly as they placed on the nationwide shirt. In different nations reminiscent of 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 shedding to Italy within the last of Euro 2020, England picked themselves as much as breeze via 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 aspect in?

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

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

Supervisor Gareth Southgate argued that he was experimenting along with his crew forward of the much more necessary World Cup, however followers are involved concerning the crew’s kind and the health of a few of their prime 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 count on to ship on the large stage. Two extra objectives in an England shirt in Qatar will see him equal Wayne Rooney’s document whole of 53 for the nationwide aspect.

Who may very well be England’s shock bundle?

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

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

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

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain England’s nationwide soccer crew?

Conservative. Pragmatic. Passionate.

How properly do English followers suppose your nationwide crew 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 environment when gamers flip up for England obligation.

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 prime 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 match in Qatar. 

Some, reminiscent of 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”.

Who’s France’s star participant?

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

Who may very well be France’s shock bundle?

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

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain France’s nationwide soccer crew?

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 turn out 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 crew’s efficiency, the French are divided, with probably the most pessimistic imagining a return dwelling within the group stage. On this respect, the statistics are likely to level in that route, 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 towards Oman.

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

Who’s Germany’s star participant?

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

Who may very well be Germany’s shock bundle?

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

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain Germany’s nationwide soccer crew?

One. Match. Staff. [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 match: they are saying they won’t watch the World Cup in any respect or will watch it in a really restricted means.

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

The followers don’t see the crew as the large favourites, however they hope that they will return to the glory of earlier occasions. 

[Words: Sebastian Zimmermann**]


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

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

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

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

Who’s the Netherlands’ star participant?

A very powerful participant within the crew is Frenkie de Jong. He is been wonderful since Van Gaal took over and has appeared 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 aspect in midfield and may management matches on his personal.

Who’s the Netherlands’ shock bundle?

Cody Gakpo wasn’t well-known outdoors of the Netherlands initially of 2022, however that’s rapidly altering. Taking part in for PSV Eindhoven, the 23-year-old ahead has straight contributed to extra objectives than another 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 utilize to explain the Netherlands’ nationwide soccer crew?

Thrilling. In-form. Underrated.

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

There may be actual optimism surrounding this crew. The squad is filled with thrilling younger abilities reminiscent of Gakpo and Xavi Simons and is led by arguably the nation’s greatest-ever supervisor. 

Nonetheless, if all the pieces 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 will get previous the South Individuals although or keep away from them altogether, there is not any different crew the Dutch concern and there’s no cause why they cannot turn out 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 towards 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 match. 

Poland had been then drawn towards 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 prime goalscorer and standout star. However the 34-year-old, who spent eight years at Bayern Munich earlier than shifting to Spain, isn’t surrounded by the identical calibre of participant on the nationwide stage. 

Who may very well be Poland’s shock bundle?

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

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain Poland’s nationwide soccer crew?

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

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

Expectations are all the time comparatively excessive and the large hope is to beat Mexico within the first sport of the group stage. Most individuals hope the crew will get into the second spherical but it surely’s seemingly 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 an ungainly 0-0 draw with the Republic of Eire, Portugal wanted only a draw at dwelling 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, the most effective groups in Qatar, are aiming to win the match in what is very more likely to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final World Cup. 

Their kind isn’t 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 impression Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview may have on his kind – and Portugal’s probabilities — in Qatar.

Who’s Portugal’s star participant?

Cristiano Ronaldo is the largest identify however at 37 years outdated, he’s clearly on the downward trajectory of his profession. Bernardo Silva is the opposite one that may have a superb match if the coach lastly understands the way to profit from his expertise behind the strikers.

Who may very well be Portugal’s shock bundle?

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

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

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

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

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain Portugal’s nationwide soccer crew?

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. We now have the most effective groups on the earth — if not the greatest — if we have a look at it place by place. 

However there’s additionally the inconsistency of the crew performances, capable of present nice performances or to frustrate the supporters with performances far beneath the extent these gamers have proven at their golf equipment.

Nonetheless, successful each a European Championship and a Nations League since 2016 is what counts in the long run. 

Ronaldo is the large star however he’s additionally typically seen by supporters as the large drawback as teammates all the time look to him when issues go flawed. Sadly, he is not the participant he was 10 years in the past. 

Persons are not so assured concerning the nationwide coach and quite a bit suppose Fernando Santos shouldn’t be the supervisor. That is as a result of in some matches he’s making an attempt to make sure the crew 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 occasions, 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 successful their final 5 matches. 

Dragan Stojković, nicknamed Pixi, a legend of Serbian soccer, grew to become coach in 2021 and remodeled the nationwide crew’s sport. 

Serbia began to turn out to be extra offensive and rating extra objectives, permitting the likes of striker Aleksandar Mitrović to hit prime kind. 

He scored eight objectives 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 crew. With fifty objectives 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 bundle?

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 utilize to explain Serbia’s nationwide soccer crew?

Offensive. Assured. Combative.

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

There may be euphoria and an actual “soccer fever” within the nation. That is all the way down to qualifying for Qatar, the current performances on the pitch and the type of play launched by supervisor Dragan Stojković. 

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

Stojković mentioned this was regular.

“The gamers are conscious of their duty, and we’re going to Qatar utterly relaxed,” he mentioned. “In an especially sturdy competitors, we certified for the match with type. 

“Solely malicious individuals can discover flaws. It’s what it’s. I do not like pointless delight, 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 prime 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 an identical state of affairs within the Nations League, the place Spain completed prime of their group however solely on the final minute due to a late winner towards Portugal, within the last fixture. 

Who’s Spain’s star participant?

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

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

The actual star of the crew is the coach Luis Enrique. He has constructed a crew in response to his type the place he is the primary determine. Typically 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 crew to the ultimate of the final Nations League regardless of the crew’s youth, one thing that gave him lots of credit score amongst Spanish followers.

Who may very well be Spain’s shock bundle?

Ansu Fati may actually be the distinction. He missed a number of matches due to an damage in the beginning of the season along with his membership FC Barcelona. He was additionally not referred to 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 in the long run, he made the lower. He is a “completely different” participant with the expertise to turn out to be a world-class ahead. He is bought the flexibility to alter the course of a match, to attain objectives 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 utilize to explain Spain’s nationwide soccer crew?

Possesion. Possesion. Possesion.

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

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

[Words: Manuel Terradillos]


How did World Cup qualification go?

Switzerland completed prime 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?

Nearly all 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 damage and the second a abdomen drawback. 

There may be additionally a query mark over striker Xherdan Shaqiri, who has not performed for the reason that elimination of his Chicago Fireplace crew 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 turn out to be indispensable for his English membership Arsenal, is the star of this group. Different prime performers are AS Monaco striker Breel Embolo and Noah Okafor, the rising star of Swiss soccer.

Who may very well be Switzerland’s shock bundle?

Swiss coach Murat Yakin has surprisingly referred to 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 following spherical, the rest could be a “bonus”.

[Words: Vincent Coste]


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

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

After beating Austria, Wales performed their final qualifying match towards Ukraine. The strain was loopy. On the one hand, Wales hadn’t certified for the World Cup since 1958, and on the opposite, the complete world was on Ukraine’s aspect, due to the conflict. 

When it comes to gamers, there have been a number of accidents within the Welsh camp for the reason that 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 damage.

Who’s Wales’ star participant?

I must say Gareth Bale. If you happen to ask Welsh followers they may say the identical factor. He is aware of the way to lead the crew, and even though 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 bundle?

It is dependent upon how carefully you observe Welsh soccer, however for the skin world, I’d say Brennan Johnson. He performs for Nottingham Forest within the Premier League and is a incredible expertise.

Which three phrases would you utilize to explain Wales’ nationwide soccer crew?

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

How properly do Welsh followers suppose the crew 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. Alternatively, 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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