Teams qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be eagerly waiting to see who they are pitted against in the tournament’s group stages.
The draw will take place on 1 April at the DECC venue in Doha, with the tournament starting in November – rather than in the summer, due to the extremely hot temperatures during those months.
The first match will take place on 21 November at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, with the host nation and the final will be played on 18 December at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, a week before Christmas.
Of the 32 participants, 29 have already booked their places to participate in the Winter Football World Cup.
The final three places will be decided in June in the intercontinental play-off as well as the European play-off final which has been delayed due to the war in Ukraine.
How does the World Cup draw work?
The 32 countries will be drawn into eight groups of four, with host country Qatar being placed in Group A.
Other countries will be divided into four pots based on FIFA rankings, with the top-rated teams joining pot one in Qatar.
Each group shall have no more than one nation from any federation other than Europe, in which no one group may consist of more than two nations.
Included in the top pot of seeds would be the seven highest-ranked sides, as well as host Qatar. England is currently ranked fifth in the world, followed by Belgium, Brazil, France and Argentina. Spain and Portugal will also be in first place for a draw, taking the top seed.
This means England could be placed in the same group as Germany – which is currently ranked 11th and therefore in the second seed pot.
FIFA has revealed that three teams with the potential to advance through the play-offs by the time of the draw will be considered an entrant and the lowest ranked countries will be placed in the pot four.
Who has qualified, and who is in each pot?
Four-time winners Germany was the first team to qualify, while Brazil also qualified early as one of the top four teams in groups from South America.
The winners of the 2018 tournament, France, qualified in November, finishing top of their European qualifying group and England booked their place in Qatar Relax, qualifying as group winners during the final international break of 2021.
This is how the pots go in draw:
pot 1: Qatar, Brazil, Belgium, France, Argentina, England, Spain, Portugal.
Pot 2: Mexico, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Uruguay, Switzerland, USA, Croatia.
Pot 3: Senegal, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea, Tunisia.
Pot 4: Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Wales/Scotland/Ukraine, Costa Rica/New Zealand, UAE/Australia/Peru.
The play-off for the last place in the fourth pot will take place in June.
Italy Qatar are the biggest team to miss out on a spot after failing to qualify for the tournament for the second time in a row following a play-off loss against North Macedonia.
Mo Salah’s Egypt will also not play in Qatar as the African Cup of Nations lost 3-1 on penalties to runners-up Senegal.
Colombia, ranked 19th in the world, also missed out with the likes of Luis Diaz, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado.
Who are the favourites?
After reaching the final of Euro 2020 last year, England will be one of the favorites going to Qatar – only to lose on penalties to Italy.
The Three Lions also exceeded expectations by reaching the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and will look to do better this year.
However, the bookies’ favorites are Brazil and France while Spain, Germany, Argentina and Belgium will all be expected to be among the contenders.
Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo and 2018 runners-up Croatia, can be considered outside players.
Of the 21 tournaments that have taken place so far, nine have been held outside Europe and only twice have a European team won the World Cup outside Europe – Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014.
What is the format and schedule?
The 2022 World Cup will feature 32 teams in eight groups of four, with the top two teams progressing to the Round of 16.
Four group matches will be played each day, with the first leg of the tournament lasting 12 days.
The matches will be handed over to the stadiums after the draw.
The round of 16 matches will be held on December 3-6, the quarter-finals on December 9 and 10 and the semi-finals on December 13 and 14.
FIFA has confirmed that the first two rounds of matches will begin at 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm and 10 pm local time (10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm in the UK).
Kick-off times for group games and the final round of the knock-out rounds will be 6 pm and 10 pm local time (3 pm and 7 pm UK time).
The final is scheduled to begin on 18 December at 6pm local time (3pm UK time).
The third place play-off will take place on 17 December.
Who can be the stars?
This could be the last chance for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the World Cup in Qatar.
Both will be determined to take their teams to the pinnacle of football before hanging up their boots and Ronaldo will be backed by Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancello and Diogo Jota, while Messi will be supported by Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martínez and Paulo. would be expected to like. Dybala can help Argentina lift the trophy.
France’s star-studded team stormed into the tournament in Russia but had a disappointing Euro 2020, with Les Blaises being knocked out on penalties by Switzerland.
Football writers have marked PSG’s Kylian Mbappe as Messi and Ronaldo’s successor and expect the forward to be crucial for France.
While Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling have won praise for England in the last two tournaments, a host of young players will be significantly more experienced.
Players like Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount and Declan Rice have become established stars in the Premier League, but Jude Bellingham could be the key for England. The midfielder has shown maturity at Borussia Dortmund over the past 18 months despite being a teenager. He has been a squad player for Gareth Southgate since 2020 but showed his ability during the international break, winning the man of the match award in a friendly against Ivory Coast.
Canadian football has seen a resurgence in recent years and Bayern Munich’s Alfonso Davies is the poster boy for North Americans. He is currently out of action after doctors identified a heart problem, but he will be the key to Canada’s hopes of getting out of his group.
While Salah has missed the World Cup this year, his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane will be hoping to take Senegal deeper into the tournament. The forward was the key to Senegal’s success in the African Cup of Nations this year.
Germany’s Kai Havertz will be hoping to continue his good form at Chelsea going into the tournament. He has been a key to Chelsea’s success since last May’s Champions League final winning goal-scorer Thomas Tuchel took over.
Spanish youngster Pedri showed a glimpse of his talent at Euro 2020 and established himself as an important part of Xavi’s Barcelona squad, drawing comparisons to Iniesta.
He will turn 20 in Qatar and is a sure bet for one of the young players to watch during the tournament.
© Sky News 2022