2022 World Cup Guide: Groups A-D


Samuel Fung, Staff Writer

Guide to the Mid-Season World Cup (Which Aged Very Well)

It is hard to ignore the magnitude of major sporting events involving many countries around the world, especially if one of these countries is a resurgent American team. That is what will be on display though, during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is being hosted in Qatar. The tournament is going to be much different than usual World Cups, seeing as it will be held in the winter time, interrupting league schedules across Europe. Today, we will look at the World Cup as a whole, including the teams and their players.


It is hard not to address the controversy behind the selection of Qatar as host, or the preparation for the tournament. There are whole other articles dedicated to the alleged behind-the-scenes bribery and corruption at FIFA, so I will just mention them briefly. Qatar was selected as host in 2014, and immediately, fans became outraged. Investigations into FIFA opened, and arrests were made by 2015. Qatar had very little infrastructure to host such a large-scale sporting event in 2014, so they had to hire migrant workers to help build the stadiums. The country was criticized for providing poor working conditions, with human rights groups citing the number of workers dying during the preparation for the World Cup. The Qatari government implemented some labor reform, but it had little impact on the working conditions. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has attempted to turn the focus from the human rights toll to soccer, but these controversies will ultimately cast a dark shadow over this tournament.


The Groups

The group stage of this World Cup will feature eight groups of four teams. The top two in each group will advance to the knockout stages (the Round of 16), and those two teams will have accumulated the most points. A team will earn three points for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss. Tiebreakers, if needed, included goal differential, goals scored, and fair play (getting fewer yellow or red cards, which knocked Senegal out of the previous World Cup). The groups look like this:


Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F Group G Group H
Qatar England Argentina France Spain Belgium Brazil Portugal
Ecuador Iran Saudi Arabia Australia Germany Canada Serbia Ghana
Netherlands USA Mexico Denmark Costa Rica Morocco Cameroon Uruguay
Senegal Wales Poland Tunisia Japan Croatia Switzerland South Korea


The top two of each group advance to the round of 16, where the first place of one group will go against the second-place team in another group. For example, first place in Group A will face second place in Group B, and vice versa. The same applies to Groups C-D, E-F, and G-H. This means no two teams in the same group will meet unless they get to the final or the third-place game, the latter of which will be contested between the two semi-final losers.

The teams

Now, here’s a quick guide to the teams themselves. Every team has one significant thing going for them this tournament, whether it be about the team itself or one of their star players.

Group A


This will be the first time Qatar ever competes in a World Cup, having qualified automatically as the host nation. In the lead up to the World Cup, manager Felix Sanchez, formerly a youth coach at Barcelona, led Qatar to victory in the AFC Asian Cup. Sanchez’s men won all three group stage games and all the knockout stage games, scoring 19 goals and allowing just one, which came in the final against Japan that ended in a 3-1 Qatari win. Striker Almoez Ali scored nine of those goals, and ten of the goals were assisted by winger Akram Afif. Meanwhile, Saad Al Sheeb won best goalkeeper of the tournament. As a result, Qatar was invited to play in the 2019 Copa America (usually for South American teams) and the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where they made the semi-finals before being beaten by the USA. Ali was the top scorer in the Gold Cup, and he and Afif made the team of the tournament. They may just be the best possible Cinderella story in this World Cup, but they have a tough group going for them.


Ecuador will play Qatar in the opening game of the World Cup on November 20th. They last qualified in 2014 but failed to make it out of a group that featured France and Switzerland. This time around might be different, however. Coach Gustavo Alfaro, appointed in 2020, has a huge pool of talent at his disposal. Midfielder Moises Caicedo has risen to stardom in the English Premier League with Brighton and Hove Albion. Pervis Estupinan, also playing for Brighton, has also become a big part of the squad. Piero Hincapie and Gonzalo Plata, both under 23 years old, are set to play their first World Cup. Returning to the World Cup is a 33-year-old striker and captain Enner Valencia, who currently leads the Turkish Super Lig in scoring, with 11 goals for Fenerbahce. He is the country’s all-time top goalscorer, and his contributions helped Ecuador take the final automatic qualification spot for South America. Ecuador could cause problems in this group. But, they still will be underdogs compared to the other two teams in the group.


Senegal qualified for the previous World Cup, with a few yellow cards ultimately knocking them out of the tournament after earning a similar record and both scoring and allowing the same amount of goals. In 2002, they managed to famously defeat former mother country France and advanced to the quarterfinals before a defeat against eventual third-placers Turkey. This, however, might be Senegal’s best squad ever. Thanks to rules regarding eligibility, many talented Frenchmen have declared allegiance to Senegal via their heritage. Notable additions to coach Aliou Cisse’s setup include goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who rose to prominence in 2017 with French minnows Stade de Reims, before joining Stade Rennais, then English giants Chelsea and keeping 25 clean sheets in a Champions League-winning season, tightening his grip on the starting goalkeeper spot for the national team. Many young players have risen to important roles for the Teranga Lions. Joining national captain Kalidou Koulibaly in defense are Abdou Diallo, Pape Gueye, and Fode Ballo-Toure, all of whom declared allegiance to the Sengalese over the French. Vice-captain Idrissa Gueye, who is set to become the first player to ever play 100 games for Senegal, is joined by Pape Matar Sarr, Pathe Ciss, and Mamadou Loum in midfield. The attack will be led by Sadio Mane, a former Liverpool star who recently joined Bayern Munich, and now includes Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia, Bamba Dieng, and Habib Diallo. Watch for Iliman Ndiaye, who has 9 goals and 2 assists for Sheffield United in the EFL Championship. The Africans of Group A are out for redemption and are favorites to advance to the Round of 16, but not to win the group.

The Netherlands

The Dutch are out for even greater redemption, with an even better squad than their last one. They last qualified in 2014, finishing third, but after coach Louis Van Gaal was hired by Manchester United, the Dutch saw their form deteriorate. They missed out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup under Danny Blind, and after a disappointing Euros in 2021, the Dutch turned back to Van Gaal, who spent just two years as Man United coach before being fired. The Netherlands have added brand new, generational talents to their setup since their last World Cup, replacing aging stars like Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder, and Robin Van Persie. Justin Bijlow and 39-year-old late bloomer Remko Pasveer are now jostling for the goalkeeper spot. The new defensive trio of central defenders includes Virgil Van Dijk, Stefan De Vrij, and Matthijs De Ligt, with Jurrien Timber behind them. Jeremie Frimpong, Tyrell Malacia, and Denzel Dumfries also are set for their first World Cup. The midfield now features Frenkie De Jong and Teun Koopmeiners joining veterans Marten De Roon and Steven Berghuis. Replacing Robben, Kuyt, Van Persie, and others are Cody Gakpo, Noa Lang, Donyell Malen, Steven Bergwijn, and Memphis Depay, who was a budding star in 2014 and has since become a bonafide star in Europe. The overall Dutch squad may be one of the most stacked in Qatar, and they are expected to top the Group and make a decent run in the knockouts, but the team has shown volatility before.

I believe that the Dutch and the Senegalese will make it out of Group A, but expect Qatar and Ecuador to cause some sort of chaos.

Group B


The US is back, and supposedly better than ever, for this World Cup. The days of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard are over. Coach Gregg Berhalter has seen a huge wave of talent arising and heading to Europe. America has also been helped by foreign-based players declaring to play for them. Notable additions include Dutch-American defender Sergino Dest, Ghanaian-American midfielder Yunus Musah, and British-born defender Cameron Carter-Vickers. Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brendan Aaronson, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams have added a lot of dynamo to the red, white, and blue, whilst Matt Turner provides solidity as goalkeeper. Haji Wright and Josh Sargent are having great seasons playing as center forwards for their teams. Group B is set to be a very close and difficult group, with the concern being drawn over recent American performances, including a dismal 2-0 loss to Japan. But, there is a chance the US quells said doubts with a good series of performances on their way to their third consecutive World Cup knockout stage appearance.


Wales has qualified for the first time since 1958. This is thanks to the rise in young talent and in profile. Wales qualified for the Euros in 2016 and made the semi-finals thanks to top performances by winger Gareth Bale. He has since failed to match his peak performance and has left Real Madrid for LAFC in the MLS, helping them win the MLS Cup on the 5th of November over the Philadelphia Union. But he has a ton of support around him which coach Rob Page can use. Forwards Daniel James and Brennan Johnson have a ton of speed, and Kieffer Moore, AFC Bournemouth’s leading scorer on four goals, has become a top target man for fullbacks Neco Williams and Connor Roberts. Ethan Ampadu has added some defensive solidity in the midfield behind veterans Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen. Joe Rodon, Ben Cabango, and Chris Mepham have added youth to the defense alongside Ben Davies. Danny Ward adds competition for Wayne Hennessy in goal. Wales are by far the biggest underdogs in the group, with no player in the squad having any World Cup experience whatsoever. But it does not mean there is no chance for them to do something special.


Most of Iran’s players are not well-known, but they did put up a very solid fight against Portugal and Spain in the 2018 World Cup. Alireza Beiranvand was making highlight reel-type stops in goal as Iran fell just short of a knockout stage spot. The squad will be similar to the last time round, but some of coach Carlos Quieroz’s men have gained larger profiles. In particular, their striker duo of Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun is becoming more notable. After the World Cup, Taremi signed for Al-Gharafa in Qatar and scored 13 goals for the club before moving to Portugal. He spent one season with Rio Ave before Champions League club FC Porto snapped him up, signing him to a 4-year deal. He has since scored 62 times in more than 100 appearances for Porto, including five so far in this year’s UEFA Champions League. Azmoun signed for Russian club Zenit St Petersburg, and played there for three years. After some top performances in the Champions League, German side Bayer Leverkusen signed him in January 2022, where he has provided depth in the forward line. Both men are set to threaten the other teams in the group. Including the favorites.


England made a surprise run to the semi-finals in 2018, finishing fourth. Some of their stars of then, most notably midfielders Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard, have faded towards irrelevancy. But, in their place rises a stacked group of attacking midfielders. Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, and James Maddison are all on the roster. This is because the rest of the midfield is stacked too. This is set to be the first World Cup for both Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, even Kalvin Phillips. The Euro runners-up of 2021, the Three Lions also have a ton of new defensive firepower. Coach Gareth Southgate had to play Kyle Walker as a center-back in 2018. Now he can play solid veteran Conor Coady alongside John Stones, and Ben White could provide depth there. The right-back situation is unbelievable, with Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, and more competing for limited room. They sadly will be without Reece James due to injury. Their top left-back, Ben Chilwell, is also set to miss the World Cup. Expect Trippier or even Saka to fill in at left-back if Luke Shaw, the starter, is  There is increased competition for the starting goalkeeper spot. Jordan Pickford faces competition from Aaron Ramsdale, who rose very quickly from relegated Bournemouth to starting keeper at Arsenal in just two years. Lastly, Southgate has to pick between a bunch of center- forwards to accompany Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. Callum Wilson has come back from an injury-plagued season to score six times for Newcastle United and make his way into the 26-man squad.

I believe this group will be very close, but England should finish top on the back of stout defending, a signature to Southgate’s style of play. The United States and Iran will likely come down to the last game, with the US prevailing over Iran and taking the spot in the Round of 16.

Group C


In Leo Messi, Argentina has the greatest South American player of all time. He may have had to leave Barcelona due to financial difficulties, but he is flourishing in France with Paris Saint-Germain. The overall squad Argentina had in 2018, however, did not do enough to support him. They were eliminated by eventual champions France, but the concerns about defense have been quelled. Argentina enters this World Cup having been unbeaten since 2019, and they have won a Copa America in that time. It is thanks to a new pool of talent in defense, midfield, and goalkeeper. Instead of career-long backup Sergio Romero, Argentina has Premier League starter Emiliano Martinez and La Liga starter Geronimo Rulli. Instead of mediocre old boys Ezequiel Garay and Javier Mascherano, Argentina has tenacious youngsters Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martinez, both starters in the Premier League for Tottenham and Manchester United respectively. Fullbacks Nahuel Molina and Marcos Acuna have become big names in La Liga, the former of whom scored seven goals for Udinese in Serie A (no defender ever gets that many goals unless they take penalties). Instead of veterans Enzo Perez and Lucas Biglia, there is defensive stalwart Guido Rodriguez and playmaker Rodrigo De Paul. And in place of the legendary Sergio Aguero is Serie A superstar Lautaro Martinez. Don’t forget about Paulo Dybala, or Alejandro “Papu” Gomez, either. This is Messi’s greatest chance to win a World Cup final, an even greater chance than when the Argentines made the final in 2014 and ultimately lost in extra time. Let’s hope coach Lionel Scaloni can get the World Cup his country heavily craves.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a bit of a mysterious team. All of their players actively play in their home nation, however, most of them bring a bit of World Cup experience. They qualified in 2018 but ultimately struggled with Uruguay and Russia in their group. They fought back to defeat Egypt 2-1 later in the cup. This year, new additions to the squad include Firas Al-Buraikan at forward and Saud Abdulhamid at right-back. If there is any real reason to worry about Saudi Arabia, it should be noted that their World Cup qualification group consisted of Japan and Australia, and they topped the group outright, with Saleh Al-Shehri scoring seven times in qualification. There may be a chance for the Saudis to cause chaos. Herve Renard’s men may have the advantage of playing in the Qatari environment and climate, which is very similar to Saudi Arabia’s because of their close proximity to each other. The team cohesion is also pretty high since all the players play in Saudi Arabia. However, quality may ultimately outdo them.


Mexico pulled off the shock of the group stage, defeating the Germans 1-0 in their first group game. They advanced to the Round of 16 before succumbing to Brazil. They enter the group stage as favorites to get out of the group, most likely in second place, and the Mexicans have ambitions, but this may be their last chance to prove something. Legendary goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is playing in what is likely his final World Cup, and the same can be said for Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado, both midfielders with experience, but seeing regression in form. Striker Raul Jimenez suffered a severe head injury in 2021, and has not played as well as he used to. So, coach Tata Martino must rely on young attacking dynamos on the right and the left. Hirving Lozano, Jorge Sanchez, and Alexis Vega will be relied on for their attacking flair. However, the team overall is solid and should be in very close games.


Poland is set to pose a threat to Argentina and Mexico. They entered the 2018 World Cup with a disproportionately better attack and goalie roster than they had in defense and in midfield. It has changed slightly. The striker corp consists of Robert Lewandowski, the current top goalscorer in La Liga for Barcelona, and Arakdiusz Milik of Juventus. The Midfield has gotten younger, with Piotr Zielinski, Szymon Zurkowski, Premyslaw Frankowski, and Nicola Zalewski adding dynamo to an aging midfield. In defense, Pawl Dawidowicz and English-born Matty Cash add depth and athleticism alongside the aging Kamil Glik. They disappointed in 2018, losing two of three group-stage games and scoring just twice, none of which were by Lewandowski. Safe to say, Czeslaw Michniewicz has a big job to do. He has to gel the squad together in the hopes they can pip the Mexicans to the second knockout stage spot.

I predict Argentina will very easily top this group, and Poland and Mexico will be closely fighting for second. I believe Mexico will eke out enough points and goals to go through.

Group D


The comeback story of the World Cup lies here with Denmark. In 2021, during the Euros, midfielder Cristian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during a game against Finland. He survived, but ultimately was forced to leave then-employers Inter Milan due to laws banning players with defibrillators. He revived his career with Brentford and now is a routine starter at Manchester United. He will lead a midfield that now features Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Mathias Jensen. He has Mikkel Damsgaard, Jonas Wind, and Jesper Lindstrom as forwards to feed and new defensive and attacking support alongside him in Joakim Maehle and Rasmus Kristensen. This may be Kasper Schmeichel’s last World Cup, but Danes should be excited over the rise of Hertha Berlin goalkeeper Oliver Christensen, who is set to back up Schmeichel in this tournament. Kasper Hjulmand is leading a golden age in Denmark, who made the Euro semi-finals despite Eriksen’s medical emergency leaving him out. They clearly have proven capable against strong competition and should be able to get out of this group.


Australia is once again representing the South Pacific in the World Cup. Not much has changed since 2018. Their captain then, Mile Jedinak, retired and gave the captain’s armband to goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Andrew Redmayne has risen as a late bloomer to become his backup (it will be his first World Cup at age 33). Harry Souttar, born in Scotland, has joined the Australians through heritage on his mother’s side. He adds youth to a team that also features many under-25s. Their most notable inclusion is Garang Kuol, an 18-year-old forward who is set to leave Australia to join Premier League surprises Newcastle United. He is by far the youngest of all of Australia’s attackers, the rest of whom are all over the age of 27. Aaron Mooy also has a lot of young men around him, including Riley McGree, Cameron Devlin, and Awer Mabil. Australia is going to have a tough time getting out of this group. Coach Graham Arnold has his work cut out for him.


Of all the teams eliminated in the group stage in the last World Cup, Tunisia was the only one to score five goals, and they were the only eliminated team who scored in every single game. Wahbi Khazri scored two of those goals, including the goal that won Tunisia their final group game against Panama. He will partner with national team captain Youssef Msakni in this upcoming World Cup. The defense added two new players from other countries. Dutch-born Omar Rekik and French-born Yan Valery both declared for Tunisia through parental heritage. The midfield features Ellyes Skhiri, who stars for German side FC Koln, and Manchester United academy product Hannibal Mejbri. Tunisia is the underdogs in the group, especially since Jalel Kadri’s men have to face the big team in the group, which is…



Ladies and gentlemen, France is the defending champion of the world and former colonizer of multiple nations in this World Cup. The French have the most stacked and deepest talent pool out of all nations in the football world. Several quality goalkeepers, tenacious tackling defenders, well-rounded midfielders, and clinical forwards are all over the place representing France, to the point where many have opted to choose to represent other nations. Coach Didier Deschamps will have many decisions to make, especially with injuries plaguing Paul Pogba, star of 2018’s World Cup, and Mike Maignan, a rising star who excelled with AC Milan last season. There is added quality to multiple different positions for France. In goal, Hugo Lloris, a slightly error-prone goalkeeper as of late, may face competition from Alphonse Areola. Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano, and William Saliba provide competition in the central defense. Kounde can play at right-back, with Deschamps able to use him instead of converted center-back Ben Pavard in attack if need be. Theo Hernandez and his brother Lucas provide similar levels of quality on the left side of defense. With midfield linchpins Pogba and N’Golo Kante out, Deschamps can turn to young stars Matteo Guendouzi and Aurelien Tchouameni. Mbappe and Griezmann will be joined in attack by Marcus Thuram, who is starring in Germany. Watch for Karim Benzema to make an impact too. There will certainly be a ton of quality in this French side as they attempt to defend their world title. It will not be a cakewalk.

I believe France will top the group with 3 wins out of 3 (just), but Denmark will get into the Round of 16 behind them.


Check back in later for a guide to groups E-H!