Group F could turn out to be one of the more interesting at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this winter. On one hand, we have Belgium’s golden generation looking at their last chance at glory, and the 2018 World Cup runners-up in Croatia.
On the other hand, we have two sides in Morocco and Canada who are ending long absences from the World Cup. Believe it or not, this was almost the group I handed the ‘Group of Death’ moniker. Let’s take a closer look at it.
Group F – Belgium’s “Last Chance”
Easily the biggest team in this group, Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils simply must make an impact in this tournament. If they fail to do so, this current batch of Belgians will join the scrap heap of many other ‘Golden Generations’ in world football.
The Belgians have an impressive record in qualifying. They last lost a World Cup qualifying match almost fifteen years ago, back in 2009.
They also have a brilliant record in group stage fixtures at the biggest sporting competition in the world.
They are undefeated in their last 12 group stage matches at the FIFA World Cup. Their last loss in a group stage fixture was all the way back at World Cup ‘94 when they fell to Saudi Arabia 1-0.
It’s time to take that form into the knockout rounds.
After a third-place finish in Russia last time out, only a final appearance will be a pass mark for Belgium.
They should qualify from this group, but then the real pressure will begin. It is not hyperbole to say this tournament might just define how good this so-called Golden Generation is.
The surprise runners-up in Russia are another side that will be looking to take that next step. Zlato Dalic’s men have a huge job ahead of them, however, if they are to achieve that.
The Vatreni dominated Group H in UEFA qualifying. They topped their group, losing only once along the way. A loss to Slovenia 1-0 all the way back on the very first matchday of qualifying.
Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, and Mario Pasalic all played integral parts scoring three goals each.
They have their work out with Belgium but will fancy their chances against Morocco and Canada.
And let’s face it. Croatia has a tremendous record once they reach the knockout phase of the World Cup. The two times they have played in the knockout rounds, they have finished third (in ‘98) and then runners up (in ‘18).
If they make it this time around, you’d be a brave man to bet against them.
Les Rouges could quite simply be the biggest surprise across the entire world in terms of how they qualified for the World Cup. It will be their first World Cup since 1986.
The Maple Leafs not only topped the CONCACAF Octagonal.
They owned it.
And in a qualifying stage that contains Mexico and the USMNT – that’s no small feat. Canada wasn’t defeated until qualification was essentially already a dead certainty.
And if the party that transpired when they did qualify is anything to go by – this country will explode should they perform well at the World Cup finals in Qatar.
And with the likes of Jonathan David and Alphonse Davies on the pitch. Anything is possible.
Morocco has made it to back-to-back World Cups after a 20-year absence prior to their appearance in Russia. The Atlas Lions won their final CAF qualification playoff matchup over DR Congo convincingly 5-2.
A 4-1 victory in Casablanca was the exclamation point to their qualifying journey. Some big teams failed to make it out of African qualifying, so Morocco should not be dismissed.
They will find it difficult after the international retirement of their star player Hakim Ziyech, however.
2022 Qatar World Cup Grouping Previews
Group E Group F Group G Group H
Stuart Kavanagh is an up-and-coming sports journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website thepyrrhic.com, he is also the co-host of the ‘After Extra Time’ podcast. Football mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.Follow paulmbanks