There are less than 30 days left before the biggest football tournament, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar will begin. Players right now are focused on their club football but the unique circumstance of a winter World Cup means that there is still one last chance for some players to stake their claim for a sport at the showpiece event.
In this article, Group F will get the spotlight. Belgium, Canada, Morocco and last edition’s finalists, Croatia, are part of a strong group that may well provide the winner of the tournament and even a team capable of causing upsets in the knockout rounds.
Belgium will be favorites to win this group as they are favorites to win the entire competition. In 2018, Belgium had an impressive run to the Semifinals of the World Cup and their victory against Brazil in the quarter final stages made them look like favourites to win the competition but they were knocked out by France the following round.
2022 is a huge year for the Belgians. Their golden generation of world class players have been unable to capture any international gold. With their best players in their primes, this might be their last World Cup together as their best players will be in their middle/late 30s by 2026. The number two ranked nation will be highly motivated to leave Qatar with the World Cup in tow.
Last edition’s finalists Croatia would be seen as dark horses once again. A nation that wasn’t really expected to go that far in the last tournament come into this one with similar outside expectations but their goal will be to go as far as possible in this tournament. That task will be harder to accomplish this time as Croatia have seen a turnover in players in the last four years but they have enough quality to trouble any side ag the World Cup.
Belgium’s end goal is to be World champions. Without the risk of looking past their group stage opponents they will need to keep their focus on what is in front of them and win their games to make a statement. Roberto Martinez’s side will be favorites to win their group and advance pretty comfortably.
Croatia may not have the firepower they had in 2018 but the squad is still filled with enough talent to make another big splash in Qatar. They will most likely finish second in the group behind Belgium.
In what is only their second World Cup qualification and their first since 1986, Canada go into this tournament as relative unknowns on the world stage. This gives them the opportunity to make a huge splash in Qatar and announce themselves to the World as the new kids on the block. If they get out of this group, they would’ve done just that.
Morocco are the second highest ranked African country at the tournament. They posess some of the best talents on fhd African continent and in Europe in their ranks and are ready to unleash it for the world to see. The Atlas Lions go into their fifth world cup appearance hoping to pull off a huge upset and advance to the knockout stages.
In a group where each team has very talented players, Belgium stands out by a considerable margin. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Youri Tielemans are just a few big hitters in a team primed for world dominance. They’re called a golden generation for a reason.
As touched on before, the most important players that make up this golden generation are ageing and will do everything to come home with a trophy this time around. Seasoned campaigners like Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are 33 and 35 years old respectively while the elite strike force that consists of players like Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are already either approaching their 30s or ready in their early 30s.
The aftermath of the World Cup four years ago saw Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Vedran Corluka and Djaniel Subasic announce their retirement from international football at different times. These were players that were vital to the success of Croatia at the World Cup and now they won’t feature at all as Croatia look into the future but, replacing the will not be easy.
Fortunately for Croatia, some really talented players have come through the ranks. The likes of Josip Sutalo, Josko Gvardiol and Josip Brekalo have become important parts of the national team fold. Through they have big shoes to fill but the presence of veteran leaders like Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic still in the squad, there is a good mix of youth and experience and a competitive squad there.
Canada’s most recognizable players will obviously be Alfonso Davies of Bayern Munich and Jonathan David of Lille. These are two players who are not only recognizable in name but also in talent. They will be key figures for Canada if they will make progress in the tournament.
Morocco will head to Qatar without their best attacker in Hakim Ziyech after a falling out with Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who was critical of the winger’s attitude and even alleged that he feigned injury. The 29-year-old has now retired from international duty as a result.
His creatvity and flair will be a huge loss for the national team but the presence of great players like Sofiane Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri and Munir El Haddadi will dull the pain a little. Creative responsibility will now fall heavily on the shoulder of Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Achraf Hakimi.
Group F has the feel of a group that may bring about a shocking result at the World Cup with four teams looking to accomplish something magical and forge their names in history. It’s going to be fun to watch.
The AC Milan midfielder may not be a starter for Belgium but will be a useful asset against tired legs when he comes on late in games.
The young defender has attracted interest from all over Europe and a big tournament will only see the interest in the RB Leipzig man increase.