With Qatar-Ecuador, the draw for the 2022 World Cup determined an unprecedented opening match, kicking off a group stage that will feature several attractive duels such as Spain-Germany, Argentina-Mexico, Portugal-Uruguay or the United States-Iran, that the latter because of its geopolitical relevance.
– Spain-Germany, the main course –
Two giants of Europe face to face. Germany, with four World Cups and three European Championships to its name, faces a Spain that has one world title and three European titles in its history. Both will be the favorites of group E, which is completed by Japan and the winner of one of the pending playoffs (Costa Rica or New Zealand).
Spaniards and Germans have already faced each other four times in World Cups, with two German victories (group stage in 1966 and second group stage in 1982), a draw (group stage in 1994) and a Spanish victory (semi-finals of 2010).
Most recently, Spain steamrolled Germany 6-0 in a 2020 UEFA Nations League matchup, an affront that Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and company will seek to avenge in the emirate.
In group F, the duel between Belgium and Croatia is also one of the most interesting in the first phase. The Belgian ‘Golden Generation’ continues to chase a major international title and Croatia will face Qatar-2022 as current world runner-up.
– Iran-USA USA, a geopolitical duel (again) –
It will be a ‘remake’ of what was experienced in the World Cup in France-1998. On the third day of group F, Iran and the United States, two countries whose diplomatic relations have been broken since 1980, then faced each other in Lyon, with the presence in the gallery of Madeleine Albright, then American Secretary of State and recently deceased.
The Iranians then won 2-1, but what happened before the game was remembered and history: the two teams met for a joint photo before the match and the Iranian players presented white flowers to the Americans.
Almost 25 years later, the two teams will meet again in a World Cup, in group B of Qatar-2022.
In that same group, the United States will live another attractive match, with England.
In 1950, the United States surprised the English (1-0) in Belo Horizonte, with a team made up mostly of ‘amateur’ players.
– Argentina-Mexico, with the mark of Tata Martino –
Argentina and Mexico will meet in group C and both have a common denominator: Gerardo Martino.
The current coach of Mexico, formerly of the Albiceleste, will face his native country and also one of his most illustrious former pupils, Lionel Messi, whom he also had under his command at FC Barcelona.
It will be a special day for Messi, who will also have a very interesting duel in that group C, against the Pole Robert Lewandowski, another of the star attackers of European football.
Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or at the end of last year, leaving Lewandowski without a prize.
But the Polish star is a scoring machine, as evidenced by his data with Bayern Munich and also with Poland (75 goals in 129 international games). However, Lewandowski was unable to help Poland out of their World Cup group and the country has not since 1986.
. Brazil-Cameroon, a ‘green-yellow’ duel
“Cameroon is the Brazil of Africa”, declared in 2019 the great attacker of the ‘Indomitable Lions’, Samuel Eto’o.
He is now the president of the Cameroonian Football Federation and will be looking forward to that Group G duel between two teams in yellow and green jerseys.
Cameroon qualified with difficulty in a tense ‘playoff’ against Algeria and will seek the surprise against Neymar’s Brazil, as they already achieved in 1990, when they managed to defeat Diego Maradona’s Argentina by surprise in Italy.
Brazil will also face two European teams in the group, Switzerland and Serbia, who led their groups in the World Cup qualifiers, sending Italy and Portugal to the playoffs. The Azzurra was eliminated there and out of Qatar-2022.
– Uruguay-Ghana, again with Luis Suárez –
A reunion for everything great. Ghana and Uruguay cross paths again in a World Cup and it is inevitable that both will remember what happened in South Africa in 2010.
Luis Suárez will surely have it very present. He was sent off in the final part of extra time when he voluntarily prevented with his hand a goal that would have given the victory to the African team.
The action was punished with a penalty, which Asamoah Gyan sent to the crossbar.
The pulse was decided in the penalty shootout and there Uruguay won 4-2, preventing Ghana from becoming the first African team to reach a World Cup semi-final.
“Clearly, the time for revenge has come,” Ghanaian Federation president Kurt Orkaku told the BBC.
Luis Suárez continues in the ‘Celeste’ and hopes not to be expelled in this new match against Ghana, scheduled for the third day of a group H completed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and South Korea.