Germany and Spain will face each other at this year’s World Cup, after the two former winners were placed in the same group in Friday’s draw in Doha, while geopolitical rivals the United States and Iran also came together. Four-time World Cup winner Germany was in pot two, making them the obvious team to avoid for first places in the draw in the Qatari capital. They were knocked out of the 2018 tournament in Russia in the group stage. Germany and Spain will be joined by Japan in Group E, which will be completed in June by the winner of an intercontinental play-off between Costa Rica and New Zealand.
Iran and the United States last met at the 1998 World Cup in France, when the Iranians won the politically charged match 2-1 in Lyon.
England were also in Group B and will face Iran in their opening game on the first day of the tournament, on November 21.
Gareth Southgate’s side, semi-finalist in Russia four years ago and second in Euro 2020, could also face neighboring Wales or Scotland, although Ukraine could also take the last spot in the European play-offs, which will be held in June. specifically .
Host Qatar, who will appear at their first World Cup, will face Ecuador in the opening match of the World Cup at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, 35 kilometers northeast of Doha.
Qatar will also face African champions Senegal and the Netherlands, who are returning to the World Cup after missing out on 2018, in Group A.
Reigning champions France will likely be happy to stand alongside well-known foes Denmark and Tunisia in Group D, which will be completed by the winners of the other intercontinental play-off, Australia, Peru or the United Arab Emirates.
Five-time record-winning Brazil will face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G, while two-time champions Argentina will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in Group C.
Last chance for Messi and Ronaldo?
It may well be Lionel Messi’s last chance to win a World Cup as he turns 35 before the tournament.
The same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be almost 38 when Portugal takes on Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.
Croatia, second in 2018, was drawn with Belgium and Morocco in Group F, which will be completed by a Canadian squad returning to the World Cup for the first time in 26 years.
Thursday’s event in Doha was attended by 2,000 guests, and among the draw assistants were former World Cup winners Cafu and Lothar Matthaeus.
Among those in attendance was the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
‘We will see Qatar as promised’
“I am proud and happy that the world will see Qatar as we have promised. We will offer an exceptional World Cup in our Arab world,” he said during a short speech.
The build-up to Qatar 2022 has been dominated by the off-field issues surrounding the tournament’s award.
It is the most controversial World Cup in history, and since Qatar hosted it in 2010, it has been dogged by vote-buying allegations – which have been vehemently denied – and doubts about the country’s suitability.
It will be the first World Cup to be held in November and December, a move from the usual June and July period necessitated by the extreme heat in the Gulf region at that time of year.
Concerns remain about the treatment of gay and transgender supporters who come to a country where homosexuality is illegal, as well as the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the country, including those who have built stadiums.
Speaking at Thursday’s FIFA conference in Doha, Lise Klaveness, head of the Norwegian Football Association, spoke out to say that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups had been awarded “in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences”.
“Human rights, equality, democracy, football’s core interests were not in the starting eleven until many years later,” she said.
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