Games to Look Out for in Qatar 2022 Group Stages

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By Martin Graham | 3rd Apr 2022

It is officially World Cup season as the 2022 FIFA World Cup draws have been concluded and the qualified teams now know who stands in their way to football’s biggest prize.

Qatar’s plans are going smoothly and tickets are already on sale for matches in what promises to be the most entertaining and engaging World Cup for fans of the beautiful game.

Unlike other World Cups before it, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar seems to have no particular group that can be termed “the group of death”, where every team has an equal chance of knocking each other out of the tournament.

But like other World Cups, there are some very exciting matchups that have been decided upon and fans are waiting with bated breath as the clock ticks down to November 21, the start of the month-long festival of football.

In light of this, we take a look at some of the games from the eight groups that will hold the most entertainment and sentimental value for fans.

GROUP A: Senegal v Netherlands | November 21

The opening day of the World Cup will, according to tradition, kick off with the hosts Qatar – who are competing in their first-ever World Cup – facing off with one of the teams in their group, in this case, Ecuador.

However, it is the second fixture of the opening day that holds the most entertainment value for fans. African Cup of Nations 2021 champions Senegal will face off against the Netherlands in a match that will see Sadio Mane attempt to get past Virgil Van Dijk.

The world was treated to Mane vs Mohamed Salah in the AFCON which Senegal won, and in the CAF World Cup qualifiers playoffs. Mane came out tops in both outings, and now they will get to see the Senegal attacker face off against another contender for the best in the world in his position, his Liverpool teammate Van Dijk.

The winner of this tie is also the automatic favourite to qualify in the top spot from group A and move on to the round of 16, so it is definitely a game to watch.

GROUP B: Iran v USA | November 29

While this match may not be as big as the other matches in this list, it holds sentimental value for both nations.

The world is no stranger to the political differences between both nations, which make any form of relations between them very complex to navigate. This has also spilt into sports, as the first of the two games between both nations in international football is still referred to as the “most politically charged game in World Cup history”.

Iran happened to grab their first-ever victory in the World Cup at that game, staged in the France 1998 World Cup. Their only other game, a friendly in 2000, ended in a 1-1 draw which will make it an even bigger fixture for the USMNT, sure to have a very unique and politically charged atmosphere.

GROUP C: Argentina v Mexico | November 26

Both sides are regular foes on the international stage and many will argue that Mexico are Argentina’s biggest football rival outside Brazil.

Their matches tend to come with so much passion and anticipation from both sets of fans, whose deafening roars can get loud enough to break the sonic barrier. Mexico has also not won against Argentina in the last 10 tries since their clash at the 2004 Copa America.

El Tri will have one problem, however, a raging Lionel Messi who will be playing in his last World Cup and wants to leave it all on the pitch, alongside his teammates whose respect for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will propel them to do the same.

GROUP D: France v Denmark | November 26

2018 World Cup winners France will be facing off against the most exciting European team of the past two years in Denmark in Group D, in a match that has little history but very much to offer in terms of entertainment value for fans.

Both teams are also favourites to make it out of their Gropu, as their other opponents are Peru and the winner of the inter-confederation playoffs between Australia (OFC) and UAE (AFC). It will be a fourth World Cup clash between both teams, but this one will have more sparks flying than their other meetings.

GROUP E: Spain v Germany | November 27

Two of the eight nations to have won the World Cup are grouped together in what could pass off as this tournament’s “group of death”.

Both European heavyweights have undergone something of a rebuild over the past couple of years and they will clash to see whose rebuild is on a stronger foundation.

It will mostly be an exhibition of amazing young talent with Pedri Gonzalez and Kai Havertz headlining the players to watch in the upcoming fixture for both Spain and Germany.

GROUP H: Ghana v Uruguay | December 2

Skipping to group H because the games in those groups, while high stakes because of the nature of the tournament, will not hold a candle to one of the most anticipated World Cup rematches in modern history.

In 2010, Ghana were denied a place in the World Cup semi-finals by Uruguay in the first and only tournament to be held on African soil.

Atletico de Madrid striker Luis Suarez stopped a header from Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah in the last minutes of extra time with his hands, earning him a red card. Unfortunately, Asamoah Gyan blazed the penalty over the bar, sending the match to a shootout which Uruguay won to progress to the semi-finals.

Despite the various rivalries in African football, Uruguay – particularly Suarez – are public enemy number one in Africa, as they denied the continent a collective joy. Many African teams have since looked forward to facing the South Americans in a bid to show them up on the world stage.

Ghana will have the opportunity to have their revenge against Uruguay in a rematch of that fixture, with the backing of all of Africa. The game will even have a lot more to offer as Luis Suarez could be playing in the tournament in what could be his last World Cup for his country.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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