Wednesday 17th November 2021
Luckless or awesome group?
Germany’s possible World Cup opponents in Qatar
From Kevin Schulte
13 of the 32 starting places for the controversial World Cup in Qatar are already taken, some more as good as. While Italy and Portugal still have to tremble, it is already worth taking a look at Germany’s possible group opponents in winter 2022.
The Desert World Cup in Qatar is taking shape regardless of any calls for a boycott. Meanwhile 13 of the 32 World Cup starting places have been allocated. In Europe two top nations have to tremble, in North America a comeback is looming, in Africa two outsiders are hoping for a big hit. Only in Oceania nothing has happened so far. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a look beyond the qualification.
Europe: Without going through the playoffs, besides Germany, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, defending champions France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Croatia and England have secured a direct starting place for the finals in Qatar.
At the end of March, the ten runners-up fight with two Nations League qualifiers in playoffs for the last three European World Cup tickets. More on that later.
South America: There are four game days in South America, and the “Eliminatorias” will come to an end at the end of March. Brazil have long since won the World Cup, Argentina qualified with a draw against the 2014 World Cup hosts. Ecuador also has very good chances. Colombia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia will most likely fight for the fourth and last direct starting position. As of now, Colombia would have qualified for the third time in a row, Peru would still have a chance via playoffs.
North and Central America and the Caribbean: Not Mexico, not even the USA, but Canada are surprisingly six game days before the end of the qualification in northern America at the top of the table. The USA and Mexico follow closely behind, Panama would have to go to the playoffs as things stand. For Canada it would be the second World Cup participation after 1986, Panama could enter the World Cup stage for the second time in a row as a blatant outsider. Here, too, everything will be decided by the end of March.
Asia: In addition to host Qatar, the Asian continental association has four World Cup starting places for sure. If the qualification was over now, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan could travel to the World Cup. Australia would first have to prevail against the United Arab Emirates in the first and second leg in order to then make the fifth consecutive World Cup qualification clear in the playoffs. There are still four game days on the program until the end of March.
Africa: Ten teams play the five African World Cup places in March. The mode is simple: the ten remaining nations are divided into two pots according to their position in the FIFA world rankings. The nominally weaker teams have home rights in the first leg, the favorites in the second leg. The five winners will travel to Qatar. Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are hoping for their World Cup debut.
- Pot 1: Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria
- Pot 2: Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Oceania: By far the weakest continental association is struggling with the times. There is not even a game plan for a possible qualifying tournament with New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu & Co. The Oceanic Continental Association was planning to be Organize qualifying tournament in Qatar in March. New Zealand are favorites, but would still have to go to the playoffs after that. Oceania will only get a permanent starting place at the 48-Team World Cup in 2026.
How are the playoffs going?
The playoffs in Europe are drawn in three paths with four teams each. The six best runners-up in the main qualification will have a home game in the semifinals, and home rights in the playoff finals will be drawn. For example, a duel between Portugal and Italy for a World Cup starting place would be possible. There are no two legs.
- Home game in the semi-finals: Portugal, Scotland, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Wales
- Away game in the semi-finals: Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Austria
In addition, all other continental associations – with the exception of Africa – will receive an additional playoff starting place. Currently that would be Peru, the fifth from South America, and Panama, the fourth from the more northern America. In Asia, Australia in particular could calculate its chances via this detour. New Zealand is the logical candidate for Oceania. Which continental representative will compete against whom will most likely be drawn at the end of November.
How is the final draw going?
The draw for the final tournament will take place on April 1, 2022. Then the German team finds out who they have to compete against in the preliminary round. “We will announce the exact procedure for the draw either at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year,” Fifa told ntv.de last.
It is very likely that the FIFA world rankings will be used again as a criterion for the classification of the lottery pots. Germany will be in 11th place in the world rankings updated next week, that would only be enough for lottery pot 2. Thus, a top opponent would be guaranteed, unless you end up with host Qatar in group A. The pots would look like this, provided the nominally strongest teams prevail in the playoffs or African playoffs (marked with *):
- Pot 1: Qatar (hosts), Belgium, Brazil, France, England, Argentina, Italy *, Spain
- Pot 2: Portugal *, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, USA, Switzerland, Mexico, Croatia
- Pot 3: Colombia, Sweden *, Senegal *, Iran, Peru *, Serbia, Japan, Morocco *
- Pot 4: Tunisia *, Algeria *, South Korea, Australia *, Nigeria *, Canada, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia
Nations from the same continent may not be drawn into a group. Europe is the exception, with a maximum of two UEFA nations per group.
What could Germany’s group look like?
In a possible hammer group, the team of national coach Hansi Flick could, for example, go against defending champions France, Colombia and Algeria. With a bit of luck, Germany will face hosts Qatar, Morocco and Canada.