Historical factors to play big role in Qatar 2022 groups stage matches

Only weeks separate us from the start of the 2022 World Cup, and the first event to be held in the Middle East promises to be different in many ways.

And not only because of the nature of the host country and the audience, but with a number of highly anticipated clashes having intriguing historical backgrounds.

The host’s national team, having been slated to kick off their campaign in the tournament’s third match on Nov. 21, will now face Ecuador a day earlier in Group A.

It is the first time such a change has been made at relatively short notice, but Qatar now will have the opening-day spotlight exclusively on them.

The following day in the same group, and 20 years on from sensationally beating then reigning champions France in the opening fixture of the 2002 World Cup, Senegal will have another opportunity to shock one of Europe’s leading teams when they take on the Netherlands.

Group B will see the resurrection of one of football’s rare but highly charged — politically at least — fixtures, when the US and Iran face off for the second time in the World Cup. In 1998, Iran pulled off a memorable 2-1 win in France.

England, expected to win the group, will not have an easy ride against fired-up neighbors Wales, or indeed against their American and Asian opponents.

Group C kicks off with a monumental fixture for football fans in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia take on Argentina at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Nov. 20. With Lionel Messi seeking glory in what is surely his last World Cup appearance, the Green Falcons could not have had a more difficult start. It doesn’t get much easier with matches against Poland and Mexico.

Meanwhile, Argentina and Mexico will meet in a fixture that has produced some world classics over the years.

Argentina won 6-3 at the first World Cup in 1930, but it was this century that produced two unforgettable encounters. In 2006, Albicelestes beat El Tri 2-1 in the round of 16 thanks to a stunning Maxi Rodriquez volley, and they repeated the trick four years later with 3-1 win in South Africa.

Tunisia supporters will already be looking forward to their final Group D match against the reigning champions in what will be one of the Arab nation’s biggest-ever World Cup matches.

Meanwhile, neutral fans will hope that the meeting between Australia and Denmark in the same group produces an infinitely better spectacle than the drab 0-0 draw that the teams played out last time out in Russia.

Arguably the standout match of the group stages will be between Spain and Germany in Group E, where the teams meet for the fifth time in the history of the World Cup. (West) Germany claimed victories in 1966, and 1982, before the teams drew in 1994.

Spain, however, won the biggest encounter of all, 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final.

The fourth Arab nation at the World Cup have been placed in Group F with Belgium, Croatia and Canada, and could just be the underdog to cause an upset and reach the round of 16.

Brazil go to Qatar top of the FIFA rankings and are many people’s favorites to win the trophy for a record-extending sixth time.

In Group G, they will renew acquaintances with three teams they have faced in the past two World Cup group stages. The Selecao drew 1-1 with Switzerland and defeated Serbia 1-0 in the group stages of the last World Cup; and they also beat Cameroon 3-0 in 1994 and 4-1 in 2014.

It is in Group H, however, where most of the “revenge” matches will take place.

In one of the most anticipated matches of the group stages, Ghana will be hoping to avenge their infamous loss to Uruguay in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, a match remembered for Luis Suarez’s late handball and sending off, and subsequent penalty miss by Asamoah Gyan.

Uruguay won the penalty shootout.

Ghana also hope for revenge against Portugal, who beat them 2-1 with a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal in 2014.

Portugal, meanwhile, will not have forgotten how a 1-0 loss to South Korea, playing at home, condemned them to an early exit from the 2002 World Cup.

In a strange twist of fate, Paulo Bento, who played for Portugal in that defeat, is now the coach of the South Korean team.

Football fans are known to have long memories. And revenge, as they say, is a dish best served cold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× Contact us for news, article submissions, and SEO services.