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Who Has Qualified for the 2022 World Cup?

The sphere is beginning to fill. Solely a dozen or so locations within the 2022 World Cup stay undecided, and a handful of these can be claimed within the coming days. With the draw for the finals set for Friday, the event is starting to take form.

Fairly what the event, riddled with scandal and concern from the day Qatar was introduced because the host, can be like can’t but be recognized. The identities of the groups who will contest it, although, are — for probably the most half — extraordinarily acquainted.

Most, if not fairly all, of the standard contenders are already there: a 10-country-strong European contingent led by France, the defending champion, and Belgium, officially the world’s greatest staff, in addition to the likes of Spain and England and Germany. They’ve been joined by the 2 nice powerhouses of South America, Brazil and Argentina.

Solely two main names are lacking: Italy, which can miss the event for the second straight cycle after falling to North Macedonia in a playoff, and Portugal, which now should beat the Macedonians on Tuesday to assert one among Europe’s closing three areas. Elsewhere, the image is changing into clearer.

4 of Asia’s slots, for instance, will go to Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan; Australia now should discover a method in by a playoff. In North America, Canada — unexpectedly — has made it, forward of a stalling Mexico and a creating United States. In South America, Ecuador is again within the finals, dragged throughout the road by Uruguay, which goes as nicely.

Solely in Africa — the place 5 home-and-away playoffs will resolve who makes it to Qatar — and Oceania, which has had its total qualification course of delayed many times due to the coronavirus pandemic, does readability stay elusive. For them, and the groups headed to playoffs in June, there are nonetheless months to attend, extra spots to be claimed. The chances are, although, that the winner is already there.

Right here’s a take a look at who’s in:

The way it certified It has been simple to lose sight of it, within the swirl of controversy that has dogged the event ever because it was awarded to this tiny Gulf state in 2010, however the automated entry granted to the competitors’s host nation has given Qatar a direct route into a contest it has not often come near reaching on advantage.

What can we count on in 2022? Current outcomes haven’t been encouraging: Coach Félix Sánchez’s staff has over the previous few months been crushed comprehensively by Serbia, Portugal and Eire. Qatar is unlikely to outlive the group stage, however don’t count on it to be embarrassed: Sánchez is a brilliant, succesful coach, and his staff — bolstered by a number of nationalized Qataris — is organized and technically proficient.

The way it certified Germany may need been the primary staff to earn a spot in Qatar, however by its requirements, its progress was filled with jeopardy and rigidity. In March, underneath its former coach Joachim Löw, Germany truly misplaced a recreation in qualifying. It gained all 9 of the others, and made it with a complete set of fixtures to spare.

What can we count on in 2022? The timing of the event could also be in opposition to Germany. 2022 could come slightly too late for a number of the nation’s stalwarts — Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gündogan — however simply too early for the thrilling era, led by Kai Havertz, Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, that can finally substitute them.

The way it certified Recent from a formidable, emotional run to the semifinals of the European Championship, Kasper Hjulmand’s staff made brief work of a sort group, profitable its first 9 video games and qualifying with a month to go.

What can we count on in 2022? Denmark’s spectacular qualifying file — not just for this event, however established during the last six years or so — and its efficiency at Euro 2020 augur nicely for Qatar: Hjulmand can be aiming for a spot within the knockout rounds on the very least. The one query mark is that if the staff will have the ability to rely on Christian Eriksen, the midfielder who ought to make Denmark a sentimental favourite for neutrals. Final week, he marked his return to the nationwide staff with a purpose in opposition to the Netherlands. On Tuesday, he added one other in his first recreation within the stadium in Copenhagen the place he collapsed through the Euros final summer season.

The way it certified Tite’s staff sailed by South America’s arduous qualifying course of, profitable 14 of its 17 video games and drawing the opposite three. It has conceded solely a single purpose at house — a statistic aided by the truth that its assembly with Argentina was referred to as off after officers from the nation’s well being ministry stormed the sector to arrest a number of the visiting Argentine gamers — and has solely dropped factors on the highway in Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador.

What can we count on in 2022? We’ve got been right here earlier than: Brazil trying irresistible in qualifying, solely to stutter when the finals arrive. Tite has crafted a resolute, well-drilled facet greater than able to profitable the event — and wresting it away from Europe for the primary time since 2002 — however the suspicion remains to be that an excessive amount of of the artistic burden rests on Neymar.

The way it certified In a phrase: curiously. The defending champion’s place in Qatar by no means seemed in any actual doubt, nevertheless it was extra a purgatory than a parade. Ukraine and Bosnia each left Paris with some extent — certainly, the French didn’t beat second-place Ukraine house or away — and the abiding impression is that France may very well be a lot extra.

What can we count on in 2022? There may be each motive to imagine that France might retain the trophy, changing into the primary staff since Brazil, in 1962, to do it: The nation’s depth of expertise is such that its reserves would most likely make the semifinals. And in Kylian Mbappé, it has a participant who might use the event as a springboard to true greatness. However, simply as in 2018, there may be completely no assure will probably be thrilling to observe.

The way it certified The world’s No. 1-ranked staff — a standing Belgium has held for 3 years or so — didn’t, actually, want to interrupt a sweat, scoring a formidable 25 objectives in its eight qualifying video games, though a 3rd of these got here in a single outing in opposition to Belarus.

What can we count on in 2022? This appears like a mantra that has held for a minimum of the final three tournaments: Now actually is the time for this Belgian era to win one thing. Its array of attacking expertise is bettered solely by France and England, and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are actually of their prime years. If there’s a be aware of warning, it’s that the nation’s defensive ranks have thinned slightly lately; this staff doesn’t appear as well-balanced because the 2016 or 2018 editions.

The way it certified Croatia left it extraordinarily late, sealing a spot in Qatar solely due to an Fyodor Kudryashev personal purpose with 10 minutes to play within the nation’s closing match, what turned out to be a 1-0 win in opposition to Russia on a sodden subject in Cut up. Topping a finely balanced group, although, one which included Slovakia and Slovenia, warrants reward.

What can we count on in 2022? Subsequent winter will presumably function a closing hurrah for the era of gamers that took Croatia to the ultimate in Russia in 2018: Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Domagoj Vida and the remaining could not have one other event in them. There are indicators that one other era will observe, and Croatia will most definitely not go quietly, however a repeat of Russia doesn’t appear doubtless.

The way it certified With loads of the ball, however not an unlimited quantity to indicate for it. Spain’s automated place within the subject was doubtful till the ultimate spherical of qualifiers, when Sweden’s sudden collapse eased the stress. Few groups are as technically adroit as Luis Enrique’s facet, however qualifying proved as soon as once more that Spain’s toothlessness in entrance of purpose is now endemic.

What can we count on in 2022? All the things is dependent upon whether or not Spain can discover a dependable goal-scorer: for all that Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets had been hailed because the embodiments of the staff that lifted the trophy in 2010, the presence of David Villa was the antidote to what may in any other case have been a sterile form of domination. In Pedri and Gavi, Spain has two of the brightest prospects in world soccer to exchange Xavi and Iniesta. Now it must hope that Ansu Fati might be its Villa.

The way it certified In silence, in Lisbon. For 90 minutes on the ultimate matchday, it appeared as if Serbia can be taking over a reasonably customary place within the playoffs: Portugal wanted solely some extent to qualify. However then Aleksandar Mitrovic headed in Dusan Tadic’s cross, the Serbian bench emptied, and Portugal discovered itself staring on the grass because it opened up beneath its toes.

What can we count on in 2022? Serbia must be a risk. It has a staff drawn largely from Europe’s main leagues: a protection constructed on Matija Nastasic and Nikola Malenkovic, a midfield adorned by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and the evergreen Tadic, and, in Dusan Vlahovic, one of many brightest younger forwards on the planet. Historical past, although, suggests Serbia is not going to dwell as much as expectations.

The way it certified England is, underneath Gareth Southgate, severely good at qualifying for tournaments. Attracts with Hungary, at house, in a recreation marred by crowd hassle, and Poland, away, had been the one blots on its ledger this time. It has now misplaced just one recreation on the best way to a significant finals in 12 years.

What can we count on in 2022? Extra necessary, England’s file at these finals is on the upswing. Southgate took the staff to a semifinal in 2018 — with the help, admittedly, of a sort draw — after which to inside a penalty shootout of profitable the European Championship on house soil in the summertime of 2021. With a settled backbone and an ever-improving cadre of younger gamers, England must be thought of a real contender.

The way it certified Belgium tends to attract focus as Europe’s diminutive powerhouse, however the Swiss transformation into event mainstays is not any much less admirable. Murat Yakin led the staff to the highest spot in its group, above the recently-anointed European champion, Italy, in his first few months within the job. The Swiss didn’t lose a recreation and conceded solely two objectives within the course of.

What can we count on in 2022? The reply to that is, successfully, sure: Switzerland will qualify in second place from its group after which be eradicated — most likely on penalties, most likely after a goal-less draw — within the spherical of 16. That shouldn’t be learn as a dismissal. {That a} nation as small as Switzerland can carry out so reliably makes it, in some ways, an instance to others.

The way it certified Remarkably, Euro 2020 was the primary main event the Dutch had reached since making the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup: The Netherlands missed each Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. Its progress to Qatar was not precisely imperious — a defeat in its closing recreation in opposition to Norway would have meant elimination — however that Louis van Gaal’s staff coped with the stress, and the ghosts of failures previous, bodes nicely.

What can we count on in 2022? There are causes to imagine the Netherlands, safely certified, could be one thing of a power in Qatar. Its file in World Cups is extraordinarily good: a closing in 2010, semifinals in 1998 and 2014. The final of these, after all, got here underneath the aegis of van Gaal, now restored to his put up. In Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, it has the core of an especially good staff. And in Ryan Gravenberch, the newest Ajax wunderkind, it might have a star able to take flight.

The way it certified The hunt to make sure Lionel Messi will get one closing shot on the World Cup ought to, actually, have been fraught and hectic and filled with internecine squabbles. It’s a disgrace, in a method, that it was something however: After a sluggish begin, Argentina didn’t lose a recreation earlier than punching its ticket.

What can we count on in 2022? Plenty of garment-rending over Messi, most likely, on condition that will probably be the final time a participant many regard as the best of all time will grace the World Cup stage. The query can be how nicely Lionel Scaloni can craft a staff to intensify Messi’s presents — impacted or not by age — and if Argentina’s reasonably cobbled-together protection can dwell as much as its unimaginable richness in assault.

The way it certified Iran has, this century, develop into one thing of a World Cup stalwart. It has solely missed two tournaments since 1998, and there was by no means any actual doubt that it could qualify for its third consecutive finals. Dragan Skocic’s facet solely dropped factors to South Korea within the closing spherical of qualifying, and it had secured its place in Qatar by the tip of January.

What can we count on in Qatar? Historically, the benefit with which Iran qualifies has no bearing in any respect on the way it performs within the finals: the nation has solely ever gained two video games at a World Cup, and it has by no means made it past the group stage. There may be extra motive to be constructive this time round, not least due to an assault that options Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi and Alireza Jahanbakhsh, the form of Champions League-quality expertise that might have an effect.

The way it certified After a surprisingly sluggish begin for a staff that has not missed a World Cup since 1982 — involving attracts with Iran and Iraq and a really late win on house turf in opposition to Syria — Paulo Bento’s staff made it by qualifying comparatively unscathed. A win in its penultimate recreation, in opposition to Iran, bodes nicely, too.

What can we count on in Qatar? South Korea may need contributed some of the memorable moments in Russia 4 years in the past — eliminating Germany in Kazan — however its event was nonetheless a disappointment, eradicated within the group stage alongside the reigning champion. The query this yr would be the similar because it was then: Does Tottenham’s Son Heung-min have sufficient of a supporting solid to shine?

The way it certified Positioned within the extra aggressive of Asia’s two closing qualifying teams — alongside Saudi Arabia and Australia — Japan toiled, at first, shedding two of its opening three video games. Hajime Moriyasu’s staff recovered, although, profitable six video games in a row, even when few of these victories had been emphatic.

What can we count on in Qatar? Japan tends to oscillate between exiting the World Cup on the group stage and exiting within the spherical of 16; the chances are high that the identical will apply once more this time round. The one be aware of encouragement, although, is that there are extra Japanese gamers in Europe than there have been for some years: not simply the celebs at Liverpool and Arsenal, however a clutch of representatives at Stuttgart and Celtic and Eintracht Frankfurt. That have could turn out to be useful.

The way it certified Hervé Renard’s staff offered what was, basically, a mirror picture to Japan’s qualification course of: it began robust, increase what proved to be an unassailable lead over Australia, after which appeared to modify off, shedding in Japan after which drawing with China. By that stage, although, it might afford to coast just a bit.

What can we count on in Qatar? Renard, the globe-trotting French coach with the lengthy blond hair and the open-necked shirt, made his identify by profitable the African Cup of Nations twice, however his sole expertise of a World Cup was being eradicated on the group stage with Morocco in 2018. With a squad primarily based fully in Saudi Arabia, it’s exhausting to see him bettering that on the second try.

The way it certified As ever, South America’s qualifying group changed into a frantic scrap to occupy one of many two automated slots not occupied by Brazil and Argentina. Ecuador made it thanks in no small half to a wonderful house file — it misplaced solely as soon as, to Peru, at altitude in Quito — and the six objectives of D.C. United’s Michael Estrada.

What can we count on in Qatar? There’s a case to be made that Ecuador is now well-placed to determine itself as South America’s third power, a job beforehand performed by the likes of Colombia (2010-2014) and Chile (2014-2018). Gustavo Alfaro, the Argentine coach, has a younger, proficient squad, although the dearth of a high-caliber goal-scorer could also be a hindrance.

The way it certified Few international locations can have endured fairly a lot angst on the best way to Qatar as Uruguay, which got here so near failing to make it to the finals that it parted firm with Óscar Washington Tabarez, the beloved coach who had develop into synonymous with the nation’s nationwide facet, midway by the event. His substitute, Diego Alonso, guided the staff over the ultimate few hurdles with stunning assurance and little to no fuss.

What can we count on in Qatar? This would be the closing stand of Uruguay’s nice era, the one which got here of age in South Africa in 2010 and can nonetheless, by some means, carry the nation’s hopes into Qatar. The forwards will nonetheless be Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani; the protection will nonetheless be marshaled by Atlético Madrid’s Jose María Gímenez. Age, almost definitely, will stop a repeat of that run to the semifinals 12 years in the past, however there can be no extra wily staff within the event.

The way it certified Canada has not, famously, been to a World Cup since 1986; although the nation began qualification with hopes of ending that wait, it could likely have imagined a fraught and hectic path by the North American octagon. It didn’t work out like that: Canada sailed by, from begin to end, not simply securing a spot however ending above each america and Mexico within the course of.

What can we count on in Qatar? Canada just isn’t more likely to win the World Cup — sorry, Canada — however there is no such thing as a motive to imagine will probably be humiliated. John Herdman has a sensible, industrious squad with two beacons of real star high quality: Alphonso Davies (as soon as he’s wholesome once more) and Jonathan David. Profitable tournaments have been constructed on much less.

The way it certified It could be a little bit of a stretch to recommend qualification went easily for Ghana. Having missed out on Russia 4 years in the past, it took three coaches, a deeply controversial penalty kick and a victory over Nigeria on away objectives to hold the Black Stars to Qatar.

What can we count on in 2022? This isn’t fairly so star-studded a squad because the staff that took Ghana to inside a missed penalty of the semifinals in 2010, and even the one eradicated within the group stage in 2014: Arsenal’s Thomas Partey is by a long way the standout performer. The event might, although, come at a tremendous time for a promising crop of expertise: Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus, Roma’s Felix Afena-Gyan and Kamaldeen Sulemana of Rennes.

The way it certified Twice in seven weeks, Senegal and Egypt couldn’t be separated. First, in February, the African Cup of Nations closing went to penalties. Then, after slender house wins in Cairo and Dakar, so did their World Cup playoff. On each events, Egypt stuttered, and Sadio Mané didn’t, turning his nation into continental champion and incomes it a spot on the World Cup.

What can we count on in 2022? Senegal could be the best-equipped staff Africa has despatched to the World Cup for the reason that Ivory Coast’s golden era in 2014. In Mané, it has one of many world’s greatest gamers, and round him are a clutch of mainstays of Europe’s greatest and brightest groups: Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gueye, Kalidou Koulibaly. Aliou Cissé’s staff may have a little bit of assist in the draw, however will probably be aiming for the knockout rounds on the very least.

The way it certified Vahid Halilhodzic is nice at qualifying. The Bosnian coach has taken three international locations to the final three World Cups — Ivory Coast, Algeria and Japan — and there was not often any doubt that he would repeat the trick with Morocco. It gained six of six in its qualifying group, after which comfortably dispatched the Democratic Republic of Congo in a playoff. No different African staff has made it look fairly really easy.

What can we count on in 2022? Oddly, solely as soon as has Halilhodzic truly made it to a finals: he was fired by each Ivory Coast and Japan earlier than the World Cup rolled round. When he did get there, in 2014, he took Algeria to the spherical of 16. Now, with a squad together with Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri, he’ll imagine he can match that achievement with Morocco.

The way it certified Exquisitely. Did you see it? You have to have seen it. Go and watch the video. Even should you’ve already watched it, watch it once more. Obtain it. Within the 119th minute of the second leg of its playoff in opposition to Algeria, Cameroon was crushed, condemned to heartache on the final. After which, within the 124th minute, Karl Toko Ekambi appeared, and every part modified. It’s exhausting to think about how any staff might have ever certified extra dramatically.

What can we count on in 2022? Cameroon completed third within the Cup of Nations on house soil earlier this yr — crushed by Egypt, on penalties, within the semifinals — and Coach Rigobert Track has constructed an skilled, well-organized facet. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar lend it a risk at one finish, however the star is, almost definitely, on the different, within the type of goalkeeper André Onana.

The way it certified Thanks, largely, to an especially miserly protection: Tunisia conceded solely twice in Africa’s second group stage, after which managed to see off Mali by a single purpose within the playoff. It doesn’t have the identical form of star high quality as any of 4 different African representatives, however will probably be no pushover in Qatar.

What can we count on in 2022? Tunisia has by no means survived past the group stage in any of the 5 World Cups it has reached, and it’s more likely to be solid because the weakest of the African qualifiers this time round, too. Its defensive solidity will stand Jalel Kadri’s staff in good stead, although, whereas the younger Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mejbri provides slightly finesse.

The way it certified Portugal ought to, actually, have been house and dry months in the past, just for its focus to falter on the worst doable second: a last-minute purpose in Lisbon from Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic condemned Cristiano Ronaldo and his help workers to Europe’s repachage. It didn’t detain Portugal too lengthy, although: Turkey and North Macedonia had been dispatched with relative ease to keep up the nation’s file of qualifying for each main event this century.

What can we count on in 2022? Although the main target will, after all, be on what’s more likely to be Ronaldo’s closing event, Portugal shouldn’t be diminished to the Manchester United ahead and 10 others. Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes add guile in midfield, João Cancelo is among the many greatest fullbacks on the planet, and Diogo Jota has emerged as a poacher supreme. Portugal will journey to Qatar believing it may win the event.

The way it certified Poland’s gamers made it completely plain each to the nation’s authorities, and to FIFA, that they’d be greater than prepared to forego qualification in the event that they had been compelled to fulfill Russia in a playoff within the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine. That message, almost definitely, was the decisive think about Russia’s expulsion from the event. Poland was given a bye, and duly beat Sweden comfortably to e book its place.

What can we count on in 2022? The query for Poland this winter would be the similar because it has been for a decade or extra: can the coach — on this case Czeslaw Michniewicz — construct a staff that permits the nation’s biggest asset, Robert Lewandowski, to shine? So long as Lewandowski, the best pure striker in world soccer, is current, Poland shouldn’t be taken flippantly.

The way it certified For all of the low moments — defeats in Panama and Canada, dispiriting attracts with El Salvador and Jamaica — and for all of the lingering nervousness that there a repeat of 2017 may sooner or later drift into view, Coach Gregg Berhalter’s staff progressed comparatively serenely again to the World Cup, making it to Qatar with (successfully) a recreation to spare and with out shedding to Mexico.

What can we count on in 2022? That america has the core of a really gifted younger staff, one constructed round Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, shouldn’t be in query. If all of these gamers stay match, and if Berhalter manages to decide on — or unearth — a standout striker, there may be ample motive for optimism forward of the event.

The way it certified In fact, it’s Mexico, reasonably than america, that has appeared uncertain and inchoate throughout qualifying during the last couple of years. Gerardo Martino’s staff made it by regardless of failing to beat both the U.S. or Canada, house or away, and after managing to lose each the Nations League and the Gold Cup finals to its northern neighbor within the final yr.

What can we count on in 2022? Mexico’s latest World Cup file is a proud and irritating one: seven straight tournaments, seven straight progressions out of the group stage, seven straight eliminations within the spherical of 16. There may be motive to imagine this could be the time to interrupt the streak, however for all of the expertise at Martino’s disposal — Raul Jiménez, Hirving Lozano, Diego Lainez, Jesús Corona — qualifying has executed nothing to recommend will probably be in fairly the best way Mexico needs it.

That’s 29 groups, so FIFA nonetheless wants three extra: These can be determined in June, it hopes.

One will come from the war-delayed European playoff: Ukraine should play Scotland, after which the winner will face Wales for Europe’s closing place.

The opposite two will come from intercontinental playoff matches: single elimination video games set to be held in Qatar (the place, it must be famous, will probably be blistering sizzling in June). Costa Rica, the fourth-place finisher in Concacaf, will meet New Zealand, the Oceania champion, in a single recreation. Within the different, Peru, which got here fifth in South America, will play the final Asian survivor: both Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

By then, these groups will know their paths in Qatar, as their locations can be drawn with the remainder of the groups on Friday. They’ll simply have to assert them.

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