The draw for the 2022 World Cup has been made, and there are several exciting group stage matches to look forward to when the action gets underway on 21st November in Qatar. With only 16 of the 32 teams set to advance, these five early clashes could be crucial in dictating who qualifies for the second round.
Senegal v Netherlands – Group A
Newly crowned Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal will go up against a strong Netherlands side in the first round of Group A fixtures, with the winner likely to be in pole position to top a group also featuring hosts Qatar and Ecuador. Liverpool teammates Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mané will be on opposite sides this time and are just two of the world-class players who could shine on the biggest stage of all.
England v USA – Group B
The match that is most likely to attract the greatest activity in western sports betting markets is England versus USA. For those placing a wager at one of the sites listed at bets.co.uk, England are currently the odds-on favourites, but they have yet to beat the USA at the World Cup following a shock defeat in 1958 and a 1-1 draw at the same stage in 2010. Gareth Southgate’s side should have enough on paper with the firepower of Harry Kane, but all eyes will be on this English-speaking rivalry, which takes place on Black Friday (25th November).
Argentina v Mexico – Group C
The biggest group game in terms of FIFA World Rankings is Argentina versus Mexico, with both sides currently sitting in the top ten. The Latin American derby pits arguably the best-ever footballer in Lionel Messi against an industrious yet talented Mexican outfit featuring the likes of Raúl Jiménez and Hirving Lozano. This will be the second match for both sides, and it might be crucial for Mexico in particular as they face a tough opening game with a Robert Lewandowski-inspired Poland.
Spain v Germany – Group E
With four-time World Cup winners Germany only in pot 3 for the draw, a match-up against another heavyweight looked inevitable, and that’s what came to pass as they were drawn with 2010 champions Spain. Germany struggled at Euro 2020 and eventually lost to England in the second round, but they appear to be a different proposition under new boss Hansi Flick. Luis Enrique’s Spain continues to impress with their fast, counter-attacking football. This clash certainly has the potential to be an early tournament classic.
Ghana v Uruguay – Group H
No group stage will stir up more emotions than Ghana versus Uruguay following the extraordinary end to the match when the sides last met in the quarter-finals at the World Cup 12 years ago. With the game at 1-1 deep into extra time, Dominic Adiyiah would have won it for Ghana with a header had striker Luis Suárez not saved the effort blatantly with both hands. Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty and Uruguay ended up advancing to the last four in a shootout. The fact that Suárez is likely to feature this time adds extra spice to the clash, which will take place on 2nd December.