The draw for the World Cup has set the stage, although the list of invitations for this year’s tournament in Qatar is not yet complete. However, although the teams now know who will play and when, there are still many questions about how things will go at the first Winter World Cup. Here is an editorial about the world’s biggest sports spectacle.
When is the World Cup?
The tournament starts with four matches on November 21 (three days before Thanksgiving in the United States), which is the start of football’s 12 days of four games a day. During the following month, all matches will take place in a narrow circle of eight stadiums in and around Qatar’s capital, Doha, making it the most compact World Cup in history.
The final is on December 18 – a week before Christmas.
who are the favorites
Brazil, France, England and Spain are the four best choices among the odds, followed by another pedigree group: Argentina, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The usual suspects qualified early, there are so many, in fact, that our football columnist Rory Smith wrote in November that “the probability is that the winner is already there.”
However, only eight countries have ever won the World Cup, and seven are on the field again. (Sorry, Italy. See you next time. Maybe.)
Who will the United States play with?
The Americans qualified again after missing the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They have fallen into an intriguing group that includes England, Iran and a European opponent who will be determined in the June playoffs (the survivors will be Wales, Scotland or Ukraine).
The United States has experience against its two well-known opponents. He equalized England in South Africa in 2010 on the road to victory in his first-round group, but lost to Iran in 1998 in a match full of political intrigue.
And they will start: the United States will face the European play-off winner on November 21, the first day of the tournament, and then play England four days later, on Black Friday. The match against Iran on November 29 will close the group stage.
What’s next? The Group of Americans will be paired in the round of 16 with teams advancing from Group A – a section that includes Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.
Wait, aren’t they playing the World Cup in July?
They always had, until Qatar got it.
Qatar, like other bidders, originally proposed holding the tournament in its usual summer period, and rejected all suggestions that it could not do so with cooling technology that did not exist at the time. As The Times wrote on election day 2010:
“Qatar’s offer has overcome concerns about the heat, which could reach 120 degrees in summer. Officials say they will build air-conditioned stadiums, spending $ 4 billion on upgrading three arenas and building nine new ones in a compact area connected by a subway system.
It took more than four years, but in 2015, FIFA, the world’s leading body in football, finally concluded that the 120-degree Summer World Cup could bring unnecessary problems (such as the deaths of fans and players) and agreed. is to move the tournament to the relatively colder months of November and December.
What about the league matches that are usually held then?
Oh, the leagues grumbled. A lot. But they lost.
The transition to winter will disrupt not only league competitions in Europe and elsewhere, but also the lucrative UEFA Champions League, and will require starting the season earlier or ending later, or both.
The Winter World Cup would also leave those professionals who do not go to Qatar – less than 800 world players participate – with a mid-season break that could be extended to two months, including camps before tournaments and friendly matches and post-Cup breaks. .
Fox Sports, which paid hundreds of millions of dollars for broadcasting rights in the United States, will have to indulge in another fall sport that demands attention at this time of year in a month of football games. Maybe you’ve heard of the NFL?
How many teams are entering?
A total of 32. They were divided into eight groups of four on the draw, which in particular did not include anything that looked like a traditional Death Group. The first two players in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.
Which countries qualified?
Qatar automatically qualified as the host, and 28 other national teams have joined it so far. This includes most of the biggest teams from Europe and South America: England and Germany, Brazil and Argentina, France and Spain.
Canada is here. The United States and Mexico are here. Ukraine could still leave. Russia will not.
Three places remained unclaimed. One will come from Europe, where Ukraine’s playoffs against Scotland have been postponed by war. These teams will meet in June and the winner will face Wales for the final spot in Europe.
The other two entries will come from two intercontinental playoffs that month: Costa Rica will face New Zealand, a survivor from Oceania, in one game, and Peru, a fifth-placed team from South America, will face a team from Asia, Australia or the United Arab Emirates. Emirates.
Are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving?
Yes and yes.
Argentina and Messi qualified in November. But Portugal and Ronaldo had to sweat in the European playoffs after missing the guaranteed road to the group stage final.
Who won’t be there?
Erling Haaland, for example. (Norway did not qualify.) Mohamed Salah. (Egypt lost to Senegal on penalties for the second time in a month.)
Oh, and Italy. But that is not new to them then. The Italians also missed the 2018 tournament. Oops.
When will the matches take place?
Qatar is in the same time zone as Moscow. So, whatever strategy you used to wake up early (or stay awake until late) for the 2018 games will work this time as well. But that will mean the starting matches as early as 4 am Eastern time, and no later than 2 pm Eastern time.