Wednesday 17 November 2021
Lucky or awesome group?
Germany’s potential World Cup rivals in Qatar
by Kevin Schulte
Of the 32 starting spots for the controversial World Cup in Qatar, 13 have already been taken, there are even more good ones. While Italy and Portugal still have to tremble, it is already worth taking a look at Germany’s potential group opponents in the winter of 2022.
The Desert World Cup in Qatar is taking shape despite any calls for a boycott. Meanwhile, 13 of the 32 World Cup starting places have been allotted. Two top countries in Europe are trembling, North America is expected to return, two outsiders in Africa are expecting a big hit. Nothing has happened so far in Oceania alone. Still, it’s worth looking beyond merit.
Who is eligible?
Europe: In addition to Germany, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, defending champions France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Croatia and England have made direct starts for the final in Qatar without passing through the playoffs.
At the end of March, the ten runners-up fight for the last three European World Cup tickets in the playoffs along with a two-nation league qualifier. More on that later.
South America: There are four days of play in South America, and “Eliminatoria” will end at the end of March. It has been a long time since Brazil won the World Cup, Argentina qualified with a draw against the 2014 World Cup hosts. Ecuador also has great opportunities. Colombia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia will most likely fight for a fourth and last straight start. By now, with Colombia qualifying for the third time in a row, Peru would still have a chance through the playoffs.
North and Central America and the Caribbean: Not Mexico, not even the United States, but Canada is surprisingly at the top of the table in North America with six days before the end of qualification. The United States and Mexico are closely behind, with Panama going to the playoffs as things stand. This will be the second World Cup participation for Canada since 1986, with Panama entering the World Cup stage for the second time in a row as an outsider. Here too everything will be decided by the end of March.
Asia: Apart from hosting Qatar, the Asian Continental Association certainly has four World Cup starting places. Had the qualification ended now, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan could have traveled to the World Cup. Australia will need to win the first and second leg against the United Arab Emirates to qualify for a fifth consecutive World Cup in the playoffs. There are still four game days in the schedule until the end of March.
Africa: Ten teams play five African World Cups in March. The mode is simple: the ten remaining countries are divided into two pots according to their position in the FIFA world rankings. The marginally 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 Congo are hoping for their World Cup debuts.
- Pot 1: Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria
- Pot 2: Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Oceania: By far the weakest continental union is struggling with the times. There is also no game plan for a potential qualifying tournament with New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu & Co. Was planning to become Oceanic Continental Association Qualifying tournament to be held in Qatar in March, New Zealand are the favourites, but will still need to make it to the playoffs. Oceania will only get a permanent starting place in the 48-team World Cup in 2026.
How’s the playoffs going?
The playoffs in Europe are drawn in three routes, with four teams each. The top six runners-up in the main qualification will have a home game in the semi-finals, and home rights will be drawn into the playoff final. For example, a duel between Portugal and Italy would be possible for the start of the World Cup. There is no return leg.
- Home games in the semi-finals: Portugal, Scotland, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Wales
- Semi-final away games: Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Austria
In addition, all other continental confederations – with the exception of Africa – will receive an additional playoff starting spot. Currently it would be Peru, fifth from South America, and Panama, fourth from greater North America. In Asia, Australia in particular can calculate its chances through this detour. New Zealand is a logical candidate for Oceania. Which continental representative will most likely compete against whom at the end of November.
How is the final draw going?
The draw for the final tournament will take place on April 1, 2022. The German team then finds out who they have to compete in the preliminary round. “We will announce the exact procedure for the draw later this year or early next year,” FIFA last told ntv.de.
It is very likely that the FIFA World Ranking will again be used as a criterion for the classification of lottery pots. Germany will be ranked 11th in the updated world rankings next week, enough for Lottery Pot 2. Thus, a top opponent will be guaranteed, unless you end up in Group A with hosts Qatar. The pots would look like this, provided that the nominally strongest teams predominate in the playoffs or African playoffs (marked with *):
- Pot 1: Qatar (host), Belgium, Brazil, France, England, Argentina, Italy*, Spain
- Pot 2: Portugal*, Denmark, 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 cannot be drawn into a group. The exception is Europe, with a maximum of two UEFA nations per group.
What might the German conglomerate look like?
In a potential Hummer group, national coach Hansi Flick’s team could, for example, go up against defending champions France, Colombia and Algeria. With a little luck, Germany will face hosts Qatar, Morocco and Canada.
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