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Team-By-Team Guide To The 2022 Qatar World Cup

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The 2022 World Cup is right around the corner.  The tournament gets underway on November 21, with the final taking place under a month later on December 18, 2022.

The group stage draw has come and gone, with eight sets of four teams set to compete, with a 32-team format at the World Cup.

Here are all 32 teams as the competition edges closer, and we analyze which nations are the favourites to win, who are the star players and managers to watch out for;

Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan

 

Spain

Who’s the manager?

Luis Enrique – Enrique is one of very few current international managers who have huge pedigree at club level and could have the pick of any job he wants if he were to step down as Spain boss after the World Cup.

The treble he won with Barcelona in 2014-15 as Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar tore through defences across Europe was a joy to watch and now he’s trying to get Spain back on top of the world. A semi-final loss to Italy at Euro 2020 was not a disaster but expectations are high going into Qatar.

Spain are now looking to their next generation team with Ferran Torres

Who’s the star man?

Ferran Torres – Spain have plenty of options all over the pitch but Enrique seems to have a soft spot for the Barcelona winger and starts more often than not.

After leaving Manchester City for the Nou Camp in a £55m deal in January, Torres has six goals and five assists in 15 appearances. Alongside Pedri, he now has the chance to cement his place as the new golden boy of Spanish football.

How did they qualify?

In the end it was comfortable for Spain but they were far from secure at the top after four rounds of fixtures. An opening day draw with Greece and a defeat in Sweden in week four firmly put the cat amongst the pigeons. But Spain showed their class from there and won their final four fixtures to seal top spot by a four-point margin and book their place in Qatar.

Germany

Who’s the manager?

Hansi Flick – Like Enrique with Spain, Flick would have the pick of any club job he wanted if he decided to turn his career on its head. The German won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the Champions League with Bayern before stepping down last summer.

He took over from the legendary Joachim Low after Euro 2020 and is yet to taste defeat, winning eight and drawing one of his nine games in charge. Flick has an exciting mix of youth and experience in his squad but can he piece it all together?

Kai Havertz, Germany

Who’s the star man?

Kai Havertz – After taking a while to adapt to life at Chelsea after his £89m move in the summer of 2020, the 22-year-old is now a crucial player for Thomas Tuchel and influencing the biggest games he plays in.

Havertz scored the winner in both last season’s Champions League final and this year’s Club World Cup and is fast approaching that top level of player across Europe. He will be key for Germany in Qatar.

How did they qualify?

The Germans were overwhelming favourites to emerge from a weak qualifying group and did exactly that with nine wins from 10 matches. With 27 points, they finished nine clear of second-placed North Macedonia.

Japan

Who’s the manager?

Hajime Moriyasu – Moriyasu made the step up from coaching the men’s Olympic side to take over at the helm of the national team in 2018 after Akira Nishino, who led Japan to the last 16 at the World Cup in Russia, stepped down.

The JFA had considered former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for the position at the time but Moriyasu has done a good job. Of his 49 matches in charge, he has won 35 and took Japan to the final of the 2019 Asian Cup.

Who’s the star man?

Takumi Minamino of Japan

Takumi Minamino – The forward may not have got the minutes he wants at Liverpool this season but there is no doubt he has made the most of the game time given to him by Jurgen Klopp.

Key goals in their victorious Carabao Cup campaign and more in the FA Cup mean Minamino has played a big part for Klopp on the fringes. His hard-working style and predatory instincts will give Japan a huge threat in Qatar. 

How did they qualify?

Similarly to Iran, after working their way through the convoluted qualification system in Asia, Japan finished second in their group in the AFC’s third and final round to seal a place in Qatar. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia finished above Japan but it was definitely a two-horse race for the top spot. Beaten by Oman and Saudi Arabia, Japan recovered to win six of their last seven games to secure safe passage. 

Costa Rica 

Who’s the manager?

Luis Fernando Suarez – Appointed only a year ago, Suarez was parachuted in to resurrect Costa Rica’s World Cup qualifying campaign. The 62-year-old Colombian took the reins from Ronald González, who was sacked after an awful run of 11 matches without a win.

Suarez has plenty of international pedigree, having led Ecuador to the last-16 of the 2006 World Cup where they were beaten by England. He left the Ecuador role in acrimonious circumstances when the nation failed to build on their impressive performance in 2006 and started the qualifying for South Africa 2010 terribly.  

Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica

Who’s the star man?

Bryan Ruiz – Now 36, Ruiz is very much in the twilight years of his career and this World Cup could prove to be his final international tournament.

The midfielder graced the Premier League with his presence for four years at Fulham but also bounced around in Holland with FC Twente, Belgium with Gent and then in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon.

How did they qualify?

Because of their place in FIFA’s rankings, Costa Rica were given a bye into the third stage of CONCACAF qualifying for Qatar – basically an eight team round robin.

Costa Rica won seven of their 14 matches but could only take fourth place after the USA beat them into the automatic qualification spots on goal difference. 

As a result, Costa Rice were dumped into the inter-confederation play-offs where they were drawn to play New Zealand, which game they won.

 

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