Look out for Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappe, Neymar, De Bruyne as event gets underway on Nov. 20
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: the World Cup in Qatar could be their last major football tournament.
Last chance for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Kylian Mbappe returns to the biggest stage. Brazil has a chance to win a sixth consecutive title. One of the most anticipated World Cups in history is coming up in Qatar. Thirty-two teams, 64 matches, 29 days. The first World Cup in the Middle East.
The tournament begins on November 20 and the final is scheduled for December 18.
Here are some highlights to look forward to during the tournament in the smallest country to ever host a World Cup. Some fans will stay in floating hotels on the way to the games:
Kylian Mbappe is back on the big stage. France is one of the favorites to win in Qatar.
Brazil (No. 1 in FIFA rankings). Neymar, Vinicius Junior and the rest of the talented Selecao are peaking at just the right time. Is a first world title since 2002 in sight?
Belgium (No. 2). The “golden generation” is gradually disintegrating, but Kevin De Bruyne is still the leader of the Belgian team.
Argentina (No. 3). Without a World Cup title since the great Diego Maradona. This will be the first World Cup since his death in November 2020, and Argentina is on the mend, with Messi still the heart of the team.
France (No. 4). Defending champions. Despite the growing injury list, it’s still the country with the strongest squad. Now with Mbappe AND Karim Benzema leading the attack. No team has won the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.
England (No. 5). The team has been on a bad streak – winless for six games – but has a good record at recent major tournaments. England was a semifinalist at the 2018 World Cup and a finalist at the 2021 European Championship.
Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne will be key to Belgium’s success in Qatar.
Lionel Messi, Argentina. The seven-time World Player of the Year may have saved his 35-year-old legs for one last shot at a World Cup medal, which for many would secure his status as the best player in football. He is currently in top form at Paris Saint-Germain.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. He won the European Championship, but the top scorer in international men’s soccer has yet to play in a World Cup final, let alone win one. He’s now 37 and no longer first choice at Manchester United _ so take advantage of him while you can.
Kylian Mbappe, France. The star of the last World Cup is only 19 years old and getting better. The speedy striker is a match for the great Brazilian Pelé, who won his first two World Cups.
Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium. He is considered the world’s best midfielder and his runs are some of the best football has to offer. Belgium just have to hope he gets better.
Neymar, Brazil. Often overshadowed by Mbappe and Messi at Paris Saint-Germain, but is still the most important player for Brazil. Look out for tricks and gimmicks, but also for some theatrics.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS.
Get ready for a soccer match. There are four teams in eight groups, with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stage, where 16 teams will meet.
Four consecutive matches will be played on the day – yes, four! – for most of the first two group matches, and then the last two matches in each group will start at the same time.
There is no break in the knockout matches, which begin the day after the group stage. The first day off is December 7, the 17th day of the competition.
Qatar – Ecuador, November 20 – the first match of the tournament, which you should definitely mark in your diary.
Argentina – Mexico, November 26 – the first major continental clash in the group stage, where Messi can secure himself and Argentina a place in the last 16.
Spain vs. Germany, Nov. 27, is by far the most important group match of the World Cup. Two reigning world champions, two giants of European and world soccer.
Iran – the United States, November 29. This match has been dubbed “The Mother of All Matches, Part II.” Like the 1998 World Cup, the two countries will meet in a politically charged match in the group stage. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have still not been restored since they broke off in 1980.
Ghana vs. Uruguay, December 2 – Anyone remember the night of July 2, 2010? In the last minute of extra time in the World Cup quarterfinals between Uruguay and Ghana, Luis Suarez intentionally stopped the ball with his hand on the goal line, was sent off, but Ghana missed and came out on penalties, with Suarez celebrating on the touchline. It would have been a perfect revenge for Ghana.