The FIFA World Cup brings with it the possibility of surprises, unforeseeable circumstances and the gnashing of teeth of controversy. It also brings the contenders to a table that has often allowed only European and South American nations as diners. the mail and guardian will analyze each group before the competition begins to determine who could be the nation that replaces France as world champion. Group F consists of Belgium, Canada, Croatia and Morocco.
What’s your deal?
The Belgian team arrives at this World Cup with much less expectation than the previous two. Since 2018, they have lost their star defender Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard looks half the player he was, Romelu Lukaku has struggled with form and injuries in the past year, and the likes of Dries Mertens and Axel Witsel have stopped playing at the highest level. level. in club football.
Still, there is no side that takes this Belgian side lightly. They are still second in the FIFA rankings, behind Brazil, and went unbeaten in their World Cup qualifying group.
But his 2022 form has been inconsistent. They have won just four of their last nine caps and they have been thrashing. This further explains that many of the Belgian players are well past their prime, including the defensive pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
Belgium are likely to pass through this group, but finishing top may elude them if Croatia is in the mood.
However, this feels like the last chance for the nation’s golden age to clinch an international trophy. Having finished third in 2018, his experience could influence how far they go this time.
Kevin de Bruyne will be the force driving Belgium forward in this tournament. They usually play him in his favored role of number 10 behind Hazard and Lukaku, and with those two really needing to get fit, it’s impossible to think of a better player than De Bruyne to fuel them.
He has already provided 10 assists for Manchester City in the Premier League this season and can always deliver a spectacular, game-winning moment for his team when he is extra cautious.
If we get a few masterclasses from the magician, the Belgian team could renew the hype on them.
What’s your deal?
Canada has only appeared once before in the World Cup. They didn’t win a game in 1986 and could face a similar fate in 2022.
Like most international teams, the Canadians enforce a three-back system, but they don’t use their most destructive weapon as a winger or even as a winger. Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies is used as a free player in this side. Usually, he starts at the number 10 position and is asked to do much more than he is used to.
Davies is technically good and showed in the World Cup qualifiers that he is more than comfortable playing so high up the pitch.
However, Canada leaks goals and it might be too much of a task for them to break out of this group.
While Davies will be crucial for Canada, Lille striker Jonathan David is a serial killer in front of goal and can hurt any team with his pace, finishing ability with both feet and aerial presence. He has scored nine times in the French league this season and provides crucial support for Davies.
It’s no secret that Davies will cause problems for the opposition with his pace, but he will still need someone to finish off the chances he creates, and David provides that option.
Still, even with the talent of these two, Canada will need as big a miracle as Qatar to host the World Cup.
What’s your deal?
Runners-up in 2018, the Croats return to the World Cup as dark horses. They still have a well-balanced team, but the players have aged and may not be able to keep up the same pace throughout the tournament.
Croatia have a defense embodied by rising star Joško Gvardiol, who plays for Germany’s RB Leipzig. The defender has plenty of top clubs looking to sign him after a great Bundesliga season in 2021.
They may struggle in attack, with no real experience in the number nine position, but the Croatian side will thrive in midfield. Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic make up the three midfielders and each one of them offers something different.
Brozovic will play a holding role, disrupting play and offering additional support to the defense; Kovacic is good on the ball and runs from box to box and Modric will throw passes between the lines hoping to bring attackers from behind.
The Croatian side should have a lot on their plate for this group, but their match against Belgium could determine who progresses to the round of 16 playing against lesser opposition.
Modric, winner of the 2018 World Cup ballon d’or, will once again be Croatia’s main man. The Real Madrid midfielder showed last season that his serenity in midfield is still wonderful.
He can also produce world-class passing and finishing when needed, but at 37, the midfielder’s greatest quality is dictating the pace of play as if conducting an orchestra.
This can help Croatia control the games from start to finish, especially the game against Belgium, who have periods when they like to play at a hectic pace.
Modric’s contribution will once again be essential for Croatia’s progression in the tournament.
What’s your deal?
In their previous five World Cup appearances, Morocco only made it past the group stage once and that was in 1986.
Despite exiting in the group stage in 2018, Morocco showed courage in a group containing Spain and Portugal. They are also a very exciting team to watch. Actually, in modern football, any team that lines up in a 442 formation is exciting to watch.
The team is built around unity which could see them mount a challenge in this group. They have a lot of talented people, like Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, PSG winger Achraf Hakimi, Bayern Munich defender Noussair Mazraoui and Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech.
The cohesion of this team will be a key factor in their matches against Croatia and Belgium. If these players can establish some chemistry, they can really cause problems for teams on the wings.
This group will also put their defensive steel to the test. Stopping midfielders like Luka Modric and Kevin de Bruyne won’t be easy, but if they manage to stop them and move forward, Morocco could go further than expected.
Hakimi and Ziyech will be Morocco’s key men on the right. Hakimi’s ability to break through from right-back, coupled with his outrageous pace, will cause a problem for any side with lazy wingers, while Ziyech will provide more technical play to find passes, pushing precise deliveries into the box for his target man Youssef En. -Nesyri. attack.
Bounou will also be vital in goal. He had an excellent season with Sevilla in Spain last year and it will need to be in his prime to rescue the African team against the best attackers in the world.