Group Guide

View all available outright and match odds, plus get news, tips, free bets.
All you need to bet on the World Cup

Group Guide

View all available outright and match odds, plus get news, tips, free bets.
All you need to bet on the World Cup

Betzone Group Guide

32 participants at the 2022 World Cup now finalised, we can now begin everyone's favourite debate - who's going
to win the whole thing? Here are all 32 teams heading to Qatar - ranked on their chances of going all the way.

  • Group A

    • Netherlands

      Fifa Ranking 8
      Coach Louis Van Gaal
      Players to watch: Virgil Van Dijk, Memphis Depay
      Our Prediction: Back for a third stint in charge, coach Louis van Gaal, has dared to drop the fêted 4-3-3 formation, in favour of 5-3-2/3-5-2. The Oranje will be buoyed after topping their Nations League group, ahead of local rivals Belgium. Having failed to qualify in 2018, they secured an automatic place this time, at the expense of Turkey and Norway. Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt should provide a strong defensive platform, with Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay offering creativity further forward. The Netherlands hasn’t failed to score in their last 15 matches — ever since their surprise defeat to the Czech Republic at Euro 2020. Three-time World Cup runners-up, a kind draw should ensure significant progress once again.
      to win the World Cup
    • Senegal

      Fifa Ranking 18
      Coach Aliou Cissé
      Players to watch: Sadio Mané
      Our Prediction: Twice this year, Sadio Mané got one over on his former Liverpool teammate Mo Salah, as Senegal beat Egypt, firstly in the Africa Cup of Nations Final and then in the Final Round of World Cup qualifiers, requiring penalties on both occasions. Defensively sound, Senegal only conceded two goals en route to that AFCON title, and only once in their last 18 matches has an opponent scored twice against the Lions of Teranga. Édouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, and Sadio Mané provide a strong spine, within coach Aliou Cissé’s 4-3-2-1 formation, for a nation that should edge Ecuador for second place and will be hoping to match their Quarter-final appearance of 2002.
      to win the World Cup
    • Qatar

      Fifa Ranking 50
      Coach Félix Sánchez
      Players to watch: Akram Afif
      Our Prediction: Playing in their first World Cup, Qatar’s performance will be the culmination of a 12-year effort, ever since they learned of their host status, which automatically qualified them for the tournament. With every player drawn from their domestic league, they will hope teamwork, and home advantage can make up for a lack of quality. Spanish-born coach, Félix Sánchez, favours a 5-3-2 system and a high press. Despite being surprise AFC Asian Cup winners in 2019, The Maroon are likely to become only the second World Cup hosts to fail to make it out of the group, after South Africa, in 2010.
      to win the World Cup
    • Ecuador

      Fifa Ranking 44
      Coach Gustavo Alfaro
      Players to watch: Moisés Caicedo
      Our Prediction: Ecuador survived an attempt by Chile to remove them from the tournament for fielding an ineligible player. Ecuador don’t travel well, and once again owes their place in the Finals to a tremendous home record, where they obtained draws with both Brazil and Argentina. Having had four managers in the previous three years, Gustavo Alfaro has steadied the ship. Usually set up in a 4-3-3 formation, La Tri will field one of the youngest teams in the tournament — with an average age under 26. Short of goals, with only two in their last five matches, their clash with Senegal will likely decide their fate.
      to win the World Cup
  • Group B

    • USA

      Fifa Ranking 16
      Coach Gregg Berhalter
      Players to watch: Christian Pulisic
      Our Prediction: From 1990 to 2014 the Stars and Stripes made the most of a straightforward CONCACAF qualification path to reach seven consecutive World Cup tournaments. Failure to reach Russia 2018, caused a major rethink, with many senior names jettisoned in favour of younger players, as they build towards co-hosting the 2026 renewal. Consequently, Chelsea’s 24-year-old Christian Pulisic is now one of only three US players from their most recent squad to have reached 50 caps. Pulisic got the first of their two goals in a home win over Mexico, but despite an unbeaten home record in qualifying, poor away form left the US scrambling to grab the final automatic place on goal difference, three points behind Canada and Mexico. Gregg Berhalter favours a possession-based approach and a 4-3-3/4-1-2-3 system. The US will be targeting another famous result against England after their 1950 triumph, and topping the group ahead of the Three Lions in 2010. With only four places separating England’s World Cup opponents in the world rankings, which of them qualifies is tough to call.
      to win the World Cup
    • Iran

      Fifa Ranking 20
      Coach Carlos Queiroz
      Players to watch: Sardar Azmoun
      Our Prediction: It’s a sign of the country’s Footballing turmoil that Carlos Queiroz is Iran’s third manager since qualification began. For the third consecutive World Cup, Queiroz will lead the Iranian Cheetahs, after replacing Dragan Skočić, who’d led them to a first-place finish in qualifying. Iran ended two points ahead of South Korea, despite losing in Seoul. In Russia, Iran pushed Spain and Portugal hard, thanks to late goals. A 95th-minute goal saw off Morocco and, after losing to Spain, they secured a point against Portugal with a 93rd-minute equaliser. As in 2018, Bayer Leverkusen’s forward, Sardar Azmoun, is the star man, within their 4-3-3 formation. His goal earned a creditable recent draw with Senegal, a result, along with a win over Uruguay, four days earlier, that confirms Iran shouldn’t be taken lightly. Qualification will be tough, but Iran will aim to equal their finest hour in Football — a win over the US at France ’98 — and will relish a first meeting with England.
      to win the World Cup
    • Wales

      Fifa Ranking 19
      Coach Rob Page
      Players to watch: Few players are more crucial to their team’s chances than Gareth Bale
      Our Prediction: After a 64-year absence, Wales is back in the World Cup. A draw against Belgium in their final qualification game saw The Dragons reach the playoffs. After defeating Austria, Wales ended Ukraine’s emotional qualification bid. Gareth Bale, deployed in a role behind the front man in Rob Page’s 3-4-2-1 formation, scored all three goals in those two games. Bale has 40 international goals, and the remainder of their most recent Nations League squad has 25 between them. At Euro 2016, Wales was only denied a point against England in injury time. With Wales playing England last, their qualification prospects would improve should England start the tournament with two wins — after winning their first two matches in 2018, Southgate made eight changes for the last group game.
      to win the World Cup
    • England

      Fifa Ranking 5
      Coach Gareth Southgate
      Players to watch: Harry Kane
      Our Prediction: After leading the Three Lions to their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years, Gareth Southgate went one better at Euro 2020. A record of eight wins and two draws in qualification is hard to fault and would have been better but for conceding a 92nd-minute equaliser in Poland. The Three Lions were Europe’s top goalscorers in qualifying, netting 39 goals in 10 matches, though 24 came at the expense of minnows Andorra and San Marino. However, woeful performances in the Nations League, including losing home and away to Hungary, led to relegation.

      England’s best formation is debatable, as Southgate has recently tried 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, and 3-4-3. Nevertheless, England possesses a world-class number nine, and three of their number made UEFA’s Euro 2020 team of the tournament. England have delivered strong performances in back-to-back tournaments and with the promising group of young players who delivered a historic haul of three trophies, in 2017, from Under-17s to Under-20s, approaching their peak, should reach the latter stages. Whether they will be able to end 56 years of hurt is another matter. See our new articles on England here
      to win the World Cup
  • Group C

    • Mexico

      Fifa Ranking 13
      Coach Tata Martino
      Players to watch: Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa: the “Great Wall Of Mexico”.
      Our Prediction: Mexico has been eliminated at the last 16 stage of every one of the past seven World Cups, leaving El Tri’s supporters dreaming of finally reaching the elusive ”Quinto Partido.” (fifth game). Pipped to the top spot in CONCACAF qualifying by Canada, Mexico has an experienced squad with an average age close to 30. Pressure continues to build on under-fire manager, Tata Martino, whose switch to a 5-2-3 formation backfired in a comprehensive 3-0 defeat against Uruguay before he reverted to a 4-3-3 system. A question mark remains over the number nine shirt, where Raúl Jiménez hasn’t been the same since a severe head injury, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has rebuffed overtures to return. Another Round-of-16 exit is the likeliest scenario.
      to win the World Cup
    • Poland

      Fifa Ranking 26
      Coach Czeslaw Michniewicz
      Players to watch: Twice European Golden Boot winner, Robert Lewandowski
      Our Prediction: After finishing as runners-up behind England in qualifying, Poland achieved a highly creditable victory against Sweden in the playoffs. Coach Czeslaw Michniewicz has only been in the role for less than a year, and has experimented with four different formations, with 4-2-3-1 looking the likeliest to be adopted. The “1” is simple — Lewandowski’s ongoing importance is shown by his having had 13 goal involvements in qualifying. The Eagles finished bottom of their group in their last two major competitions. They should avoid that fate, but the opening game with Mexico will be crucial.
      to win the World Cup
    • Saudi Arabia

      Fifa Ranking 51
      Coach Hervé Renard
      Players to watch: Salem al-Dawsari
      Our Prediction: Saudi Arabia topped their final qualification pool, ahead of Japan and Australia. Although an entirely domestically based squad aids unity, with so many foreign strikers imported into the Saudi Pro League, there are few home-grown number nines to choose from. Whoever gets the role, will get a first-rate supply line from excellent winger al-Dawsari. Frenchman Hervé Renard has overseen a more settled preparation than under the manager carousel of four years ago when they were hammered 5-0 by Russia. Herve’s 4-2-3-1 formation has made Saudi Arabia harder to break down, and none of their last 15 matches has seen more than two goals scored. However, The Green Men have won only one of their last 12 World Cup games, and a tough group will make it difficult to add to that tally.
      to win the World Cup
    • Argentina

      Fifa Ranking 3
      Coach Lionel Scaloni
      Players to watch: Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi.
      Our Prediction: Italy were unbeaten in 27 games prior to the Euros and won the title and Argentina will hope to follow suit, arriving in Qatar on an unbeaten run of 35 matches. After 10 consecutive failures, La Albiceleste finally laid the ghost of Copa América disappointments, triumphing in the 2021 renewal.

      Defensively solid, they conceded only eight goals when finishing second behind Brazil in qualification. Argentina possesses great squad depth and will be better organised than they were in 2018 when players confronted manager Jorge Sampaoli after losing to Croatia. Lionel Scaloni usually opts for a 4-3-3 formation, with a front line of Ángel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, and all-time great, Lionel Messi, in probably his last World Cup. Could a World Cup Semi-final with bitter rivals Brazil be on the cards?
      to win the World Cup
  • Group D

    • Denmark

      Fifa Ranking 10
      Coach Kasper Hjulmand
      Players to watch: Kasper Schmeichel conceded only 3 goals in 10 qualifiers
      Our Prediction: Followed an impressive run to the Semi-finals of the Euros by winning nine of their 10 qualifiers — they went through their first eight qualifiers without conceding a goal. European Champions in 1992, the World Cup hasn’t been as kind, with Denmark getting beyond the last 16 only once. But having managed two wins and a draw in their last three games against France, Danish Dynamite won’t fear the group favourites. With a strong defensive unit, they will also have Christian Eriksen’s creativity in midfield, as part of a 4-3-3 formation. There is no reliance on one source of goals, with 18 different players getting on the score sheet in qualifying. Coach Kasper Hjulmand has had a win rate of 67.6% since taking over in July 2020. Horses don’t come much darker.
      to win the World Cup
    • Australia

      Fifa Ranking 38
      Coach Graham Arnold
      Players to watch: Martin Boyle
      Our Prediction: Australia’s 1,008-day qualification odyssey saw them finish a distant third behind Saudi Arabia in the Third Round, before scraping past the UAE, and needing penalties to eliminate Peru. 4-2-3-1 is coach Graham Arnold’s preferred system, in which ex-Brighton pair Mathew Ryan and Aaron Mooy provide valuable experience. They drew with Denmark and only lost 2-1 to France, in Russia. However, the Socceroos lack the talent pool of 2006, making emulating their achievement of reaching the last 16 in that tournament difficult.
      to win the World Cup
    • Tunisia

      Fifa Ranking 30
      Coach Jalel Kadri
      Players to watch: Wahbi Khazri
      Our Prediction: Tunisia defeated Mali in the deciding qualifier thanks to a bizarre own goal. Set up in a 4-3-2-1 formation, Tunisia is solid defensively, as evidenced by having kept a clean sheet in both legs against Mali. Winning the Kirin Cup over the summer boosted morale, though a recent 5-1 defeat against Brazil shows the challenge of competing on the world stage. The Eagles of Carthage were the first African nation to win a match at a World Cup, but have not escaped the group in five attempts, and that might well happen again in Qatar.
      to win the World Cup
    • France

      Fifa Ranking 4
      Coach Didier Deschamps
      Players to watch: Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema.
      Our Prediction: Seeking to become the first back-to-back winners since Brazil in 1962, France comfortably topped their qualification group, though Ukraine twice held them to a draw. At Euro 2020, France only really turned up for 18 minutes, being eliminated by Switzerland, after seemingly thinking they had secured a place in the Quarter-finals, with three quick goals.

      Coach Didier Deschamps, who is likely to use a 3-4-1-2 formation, has had a decade at the helm and has incredible squad depth at his disposal. Big names like Mbappé, Benzema, and Griezmann offer plenty in attack, but Les Bleus look susceptible defensively in wide areas. There will be a feeling of déjà vu, with Denmark and Australia as group opponents, as they were in 2018. France should avoid the fate of four of the last five reigning champions, who went out at the group stage, and remain genuine contenders to lift the trophy.
      to win the World Cup
  • Group E

    • Japan

      Fifa Ranking 24
      Coach Hajime Moriyasu
      Players to watch: Takumi Minamino
      Our Prediction: A loss to lowly Oman put Japan’s bid to qualify for a seventh consecutive World Cup in jeopardy. But they reeled off six straight wins to finish in second place behind Saudi Arabia. Coach Hajime Moriyasu prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation, where Monaco’s Takumi Minamino, stars on the left flank. The presence of two holding midfielders has shored things up defensively, and Japan comes into the tournament off the back of five clean sheets, albeit a few against poor opposition. Samurai Blue has alternated group exits with reaching the last 16, since 1998, and given the presence of two of Football’s superpowers in their group, there is a strong likelihood that the sequence will continue with a first-round exit.
      to win the World Cup
    • Costa Rica

      Fifa Ranking 31
      Coach Luis Fernando Suárez
      Players to watch: Keylor Navas, formerly of Real Madrid, now at PSG.
      Our Prediction: With nine wins, two draws, and one defeat in their last 12 matches, Costa Rica approaches the Finals in good form. Their qualification campaign really was a “game of two halves” — they opened with one win in seven games before going on an eight-match unbeaten run, including their playoff win over New Zealand. In 2014, Costa Rica took “parking the bus” to new heights, in reaching the Quarter-finals. Survivors Navas, Joel Campbell, and Bryan Ruiz will need the help of younger legs if they are to progress. A 5-4-1 formation is deployed, and Costa Rica looks to hit on the counterattack. Los Ticos will be the third nation that Coach Luis Suárez (not that one) has taken to a World Cup but emulating his feat of taking Ecuador to the last 16, in 2006, looks like a tall order.
      to win the World Cup
    • Spain

      Fifa Ranking 7
      Coach Luis Enrique
      Players to watch: Ansu Fati and Pedri
      Our Prediction: Spain proved to be draw specialists during the Euros, with honours even in two of their three group matches, followed by three knockout games that required either Extra-Time or Penalties. Coach Luis Enrique has the opposite problem to many of his fellow managers, with several of his first-choice players getting too little Football at club level.

      Spain will arrive in Qatar in good form, having topped their Nations League group, ahead of Iberian rivals, Portugal. Tiki Taka is alive and well with Spain achieving an average of 76% possession during the qualifiers, as La Roja secured their 12th consecutive World Cup appearance. While there are questions about their defensive starters, young stars like Pedri, Fati, and Gavi are exciting, although who takes the number nine shirt is anyone’s guess. Spain against Germany on 27th November is the match of the group stage, and, while a repeat of their hugely impressive 6-0 Nations League win against Germany is highly unlikely, that level of performance would take Spain close to a second World Cup title.
      to win the World Cup
    • Germany

      Fifa Ranking 11
      Coach Hansi Flick
      Players to watch: Jamal Musiala
      Our Prediction: The first nation, aside from the hosts, to qualify for the tournament, Germany recorded the joint-highest points tally among European nations, with 36 goals scored and only four conceded. Hansi Flick has a Bundesliga, German Cup, and Champions League treble on his CV, and began with a 13-game unbeaten run as National Coach.

      Germany possesses an experienced core, with the defensive skills of Antonio Rüdiger, outstanding defensive midfielder Joshua Kimmich, and the original sweeper-keeper, Manuel Neuer. Jamal Musiala — Germany’s youngest international since 1954 — represented England from Under-15 to Under-21 age groups, and now looks set to spearhead Germany’s talented group of youngsters. By the standards of a team with four World Cup wins and four runners-up finishes, Die Mannschaft has produced poor performances in their last two major championships. But they followed disappointing tournaments in 1998 and 2000, with a runners-up finish in 2002, reminding us of one of Football’s great clichés: “never write off the Germans.”
      to win the World Cup
  • Group F

    • Croatia

      Fifa Ranking 12
      Coach Zlatko Dalic
      Players to watch: It’s still 37-year-old Luka Modrić.
      Our Prediction: Pre-tournament 33/1 shots four years ago, Croatia surprised the world when reaching the Final in Russia. In arguably Europe’s weakest qualifying group, Croatia pipped Russia to the top spot. The Blazers are the only team to opt for a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond — appropriate for a team with jewels like Modrić, Kovačić, Pašalić, and Brozović in the middle of the park. Having looked like an aging team at Euro 2020, their recent form has been very encouraging. They qualified for the Nations League Finals, ahead of France and Denmark, with four wins and a draw in their last five fixtures. Twice Semi-Finalists, their other three World Cup tilts ended in the Group Stage. This campaign looks most likely to end somewhere in between.
      to win the World Cup
    • Morocco

      Fifa Ranking 22
      Coach Walid Regragui
      Players to watch: Hakim Ziyech and world-class right-back Achraf Hakimi
      Our Prediction: Playing all their first-round qualifiers at home, Morocco topped their section before dispatching DR Congo in the playoff. Conceding late on was their undoing in Russia when they allowed two stoppage-time goals. Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech is back in the fold after a fallout with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic. Quarter-finalists in the Africa Cup Of Nations, the Atlas Lions may continue to adopt a 5-1-2-2 set-up. Their form has improved recently, with three wins and a draw in their last four outings. They will be hoping to emulate their appearance in the last 16 from 1986, which is a possibility.
      to win the World Cup
    • Canada

      Fifa Ranking 41
      Coach John Herdman
      Players to watch: Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David
      Our Prediction: Canada sealed a first World Cup appearance since 1986 by topping the CONCACAF qualification group ahead of Mexico and the US, greatly helped by a solid defence that allowed only seven goals in 14 games. Les Rouges’s return to the big stage is largely thanks to Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille’s forward Jonathan David. Coach John Herdman, from County Durham, is likely to adopt that most English of formations: 4-4-2. Recent form has been mixed — they beat Qatar but lost 2-0 to Uruguay. Outsiders in the group, they are looking to build ahead of co-hosting the 2026 renewal and making the last 16 for the first time remains a possibility.
      to win the World Cup
    • Belgium

      Fifa Ranking 2
      Coach Roberto Martinez
      Players to watch: Kevin De Bruyne & Thibaut Courtois.
      Our Prediction: The term “Golden Generation” really is a misnomer. Belgium’s much-vaunted current group of players has one Semi-final appearance and three Quarter-final exits to show for their previous four tournaments. In charge of the last three of those campaigns has been Roberto Martinez, who prefers a 3-4-3 formation.

      There are unlikely to be many more opportunities for this group. Two-thirds of their defence, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, have a combined age of 68. At either end of the pitch, there is world-class talent in the form of Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne. Although like so many Golden Generations before them, lifting the trophy may be a bridge too far for the Red Devils, winning the group en route to an extended stay in the tournament should be on the cards.
      to win the World Cup
  • Group G

    • Brazil

      Fifa Ranking 1
      Coach Tite
      Players to watch: Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Casemiro
      Our Prediction: The only nation to have qualified for every World Cup tournament, Brazil’s badge is the only one with five stars above it. Tite can boast a Copa América triumph in 2019 — they also reached the Final two years later — and a win percentage of 75%, during his spell as Brazil’s longest-serving coach. It seems incongruous to talk about defence first with the Seleção, but they are blessed with a choice of world-class goalkeepers, Alisson or Ederson, the centre-back pairing of Marquinhos and Militao didn’t concede a goal when selected together in qualification, and they have Manchester United’s Casemiro screening in front of the defence.

      Brazil’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation sees Vinícius Júnior and Neymar providing the spark. The Seleção topped the CONMEBOL section, completing 17 matches unbeaten, with a South American Qualification record, 45 points, and should go close to a first World Cup triumph since 2002.
      Outright Winner
      Group G Winner
    • Serbia

      Fifa Ranking 21
      Coach Dragan Stojković
      Players to watch: Dušan Tadić and Aleksandar Mitrović
      Our Prediction: Serbia left it late to secure automatic qualification, with a 90th-minute goal clinching a win over Portugal, to top the group. The style of a team often resembles their manager and Serbia’s attacking brand of Football, is reminiscent of coach Dragan Stojkovic, formerly an elegant midfielder for Yugoslavia. He has deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation since taking the role prior to qualification, and he has several players who won the 2015 Under-20 World Cup reaching their peak. Unbeaten in their last five games, they secured promotion to League A of the Nations League. Although they’ve suffered more World Cup losses than any European team since 2006, Serbia looks closely matched with Switzerland in the battle to qualify.
      to win the World Cup
    • Switzerland

      Fifa Ranking 15
      Coach Murat Yakin
      Players to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri
      Our Prediction: Despite facing Italy in qualifying, the A-Team’s plan to reach the World Cup came together, as they remained unbeaten, including two draws against the Azzurri. Playing in their fifth consecutive World Cup, the Swiss have reached nine of the past 10 major tournaments. A switch from a back three to a 4-2-3-1 formation under coach, and former star, Murat Yakin, has brought greater defensive solidity with Switzerland conceding only one goal in their last six qualifiers. Xherdan Shaqiri usually reserves his best performances for his country and will provide ammunition for oft-injured striker Breel Embolo. Their encounter with Serbia is likely to decide the fate of both nations.
      to win the World Cup
    • Cameroon

      Fifa Ranking 43
      Coach Rigobert Song
      Players to watch: Andre Onana
      Our Prediction: Africa’s most regular qualifiers for the World Cup, having reached seven of the previous nine World Cups, Cameroon missed out in 2018, but now returns to Football’s top table. The Indomitable Lions were set a tough task in qualifying, eliminating the Ivory Coast in the group, followed by defeating Algeria over two legs. They were heading out after conceding in the 118th minute in Blida, but a goal in the fourth minute of stoppage-time sent them through. While Rigobert Song played 137 games for his country, he has only five as a senior coach — his appointment can be attributed to former teammate Samuel Eto’o becoming president of Cameroon’s Football federation. Song’s formation of choice is likely to be 4-3-3. Much will have to go right for them if it is not to be a sixth consecutive Group Stage exit for a team that has lost its last seven World Cup games.
      to win the World Cup
  • Group H

    • Uruguay

      Fifa Ranking 14
      Coach Diego Alonso
      Players to watch: Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde
      Our Prediction: The decision to jettison legendary coach Oscar Tabarez, who oversaw so much of Uruguay’s success at senior and junior level, was a tough one. Recent results suggest that it was the right move. Diego Alonso took over a team in seventh place in the CONMEBOL qualifying group, but Uruguay won their last four qualifiers to reach their 14th World Cup. On the playing side, things are more familiar with a 4-4-2 formation, and Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Diego Godin the wily veterans, and the familiar question of how they’ll shoehorn in all their potential strikers, with Liverpool’s Darwin Núñez in contention. La Celeste’s recent form has been mixed, including a 3-0 win over Mexico and a loss to Iran, but the two-time winners still look well-placed to join Portugal in the last 16.
      to win the World Cup
    • South Korea

      Fifa Ranking 28
      Coach Paulo Bento
      Players to watch: Son Heung-min
      Our Prediction: Though progress to a tenth consecutive World Cup was never in doubt, South Korea finished two points behind Iran in qualifying. Their recent form has been mixed, including a solid 2-0 win over Chile, and a chastening 3-0 defeat to Japan. Coach Paulo Bento took over after the Taeguk Warriors’ group stage exit in 2018 and prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation. But is his cautious approach incongruous with South Korea’s natural speedy counter-attacking style? Going forward, Son Heung-min will be supplemented by members of the team that was runners-up in the 2019 Under-20 World Cup. A repeat of their heroics in reaching the Semi-final at home, in 2002, looks unlikely, but qualifying for the knockout phase for the third time is possible.
      to win the World Cup
    • Ghana

      Fifa Ranking 61
      Coach Otto Addo
      Players to watch: Thomas Partey
      Our Prediction: Ghana has tiebreakers to thank for their presence in the tournament. Having edged South Africa in the group, by virtue of goals scored, they eliminated Nigeria in the playoffs on the Away Goals Rule. Their recent form isn’t encouraging, with three losses in their last five games, including a disappointing defeat to Qatar. Coach Otto Addo was brought in after Ghana finished bottom of their AFCON group. He does have the flexibility to play either a 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, in which Arsenal’s Thomas Partey will perform a key role in midfield. Despite being the lowest-ranked team among the 32 qualifiers, the Black Stars will still be hopeful of getting out of the group.
      to win the World Cup
    • Portugal

      Fifa Ranking 9
      Coach Fernando Santos
      Players to watch: With Cristiano Ronaldo more of a ceremonial pick, Bernardo Silva.
      Our Prediction: A last-gasp loss to Serbia left Portugal needing to see off Turkey and North Macedonia in the playoffs to book a place in Qatar. Experienced coach Fernando Santos has a European Championship win on his CV, and is likely to set Portugal out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but will the Seleção’s greatest-ever player be in their first eleven? Cristiano Ronaldo looks like more of a ceremonial pick these days, while talented Joao Felix hasn’t “trained on”, after early promise.

      If Portugal is successful, Manchester will get some reflected glory. Defenders João Cancelo and Rúben Dias, who made the 2020-21 PFA Team of The Year, and their Manchester City teammate, midfielder Bernardo Silva, who joined Cancelo in the 2021-22 PFA Dream Team are among Portugal’s key men. Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes is likely to be another important contributor. A loss to Iberian rivals Spain denied Portugal a place in the Nations League Semi-finals, but they should be able to progress far in the World Cup.
      to win the World Cup