Your guide to the 2022 FIFA World Cup: stars to watch, favorites and more

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Here’s everything you need to know.

The basics

Appointment: 20 Nov-Dec 18

TV: Fox has the rights to this World Cup, and the matches will be broadcast on Fox and FS1 in English and on Telemundo in Spanish.

Kick off times: Matches will be played in the morning and early afternoon EST – the first kickoffs will be at 5 a.m. EST and no later than 2 p.m.

The host country

The decision to award the tournament to Qatar baffled many in 2010, when the tiny Middle Eastern nation beat the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia – countries with the infrastructure significantly better and weather conditions that could allow the usual start of the tournament. summer showmanship – and controversies have snowballed in the 12 years since.

The inhuman working conditions of immigrant workers have led to many deaths; the country has criminalized homosexuality, with a Qatar World Cup ambassador calling homosexuality “damaging to the mind” last week; fans without tickets will not be allowed to enter the country until December 2 (when the group stage ends); and serving alcohol in a country that widely bans it has caused much confusion, with policy changes just eight days away from the tournament.

The awarding of the World Cup to Qatar in the first place immediately raised suspicions of blatant corruption, and several officials involved in the vote were exiled from the sport, arrested, or both.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president at the time of the vote, last week called the host selection “a mistake” and reiterated then-UEFA president Michel Platini’s hand in influencing the votes under pressure from then French President Nicolas Sarkozy while questioning the ethics of current FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s dealings with the Qatari government – sport’s top official lives in Qatar for over a year.

Boycotts and protests have been planned as FIFA urges countries to ‘focus on football’ as the host nation and governing body try to avert a burgeoning public relations disaster.

Rooms

Eight stadiums will be used for the World Cup, highlighted by the Lusail Stadium, which has a golden facade and a capacity of 80,000 and will host 10 matches, including the final.

Lusail Stadium is about 20 km from Doha, Qatar.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

The majority of World Cup venues will see their capacity reduced after the tournament as part of a sustainability campaign. Plans include transforming the sites into community centers including housing, shops, medical centers and schools.

Other stadiums are Al Bayt Stadium (located in Al Khor); 974 Stadium, (in Doha, this is a temporary stadium made up of 974 shipping containers that will be dismantled after the tournament, the first temporary stadium in World Cup history); Al Thumama Stadium (Doha); National Stadium (Doha); Education City Stadium (Al Rayyan); Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan); and Al Janoub Stadium (Al Wakrah).

Time difference Qatar

Qatar follows Arabian Standard Time and is eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so a 10 a.m. kickoff in Boston will take place at 6 p.m. Qatar local time.

groups and format

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

Group B: England, Iran, United States, Wales

Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Group D: France, Australia, Denmark Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan

Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

The group stage is played in a round-robin format, with each team playing each other once; the two teams with the most points (3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss) qualify for the round of 16. The rest of the tournament is single-elimination.

U.S. Timeline and Outlook

Monday, November 21: USA vs Wales, 2 p.m. (Fox)

Friday, November 25: USA vs. England, 2 p.m. (Fox)

Tuesday, November 29: United States vs. Iran, 2 p.m. (Fox)

The Americans were lucky in the draw, becoming second favorites in one of the easier groups. England remain a contender, but Iran are very beatable and should offer a good opportunity to get 3 points.

If England perform as expected, second place in knockouts should go to the United States and Wales, making the tournament opener a pivotal 90 minutes for both.

Bringing more talent to midfield and on the wings than the Americans may have ever had, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie playing for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, the States States should be favored to move forward. But the preparation for the tournament was difficult, with very unconvincing performances against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Weston McKennie plays for Juventus in the Italian Serie A.Maurizio Lagana/Getty

The reigning champions

France boasted all sorts of star powers in their run to a second World Cup victory in 2018, beating Argentina in a 4-3 thriller in the round of 16, excluding Uruguay and Belgium to reach the final, and reenacting a dominating performance against Croatia hoisting the trophy for the first time since 1998.

The French are still among the favourites, but have a very different look. Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe burst onto the world stage in 2018 and still leads the attack with Antoine Griezmann, but it’s a weaker team elsewhere.

Without the endless energy and winning ball of Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and the mercurial brilliance of Juventus’ Paul Pogba – two essential pieces in 2018 and both injured for this edition – in midfield, France could struggling to have the same impact.

Nations to watch

Brazil: A favorite every four years, the most successful nation in World Cup history is the clear favorite to claim its first victory since 2002. and defenders. Brazil are betting favorites everywhere for good reason.

Tité has been the manager of the Brazil men’s national team since 2016.VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium: It’s probably the last hurray for Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, the biggest crop of players the country has ever produced but never seen through. The Belgians were at their best in 2018, when their biggest stars were at the peak of their powers, and missed out on the final. With an aging star-studded back line, the remaining stars like Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, perhaps the best midfielder in the world, will have to go above and beyond to deliver on the promise of this group.

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao; The Portuguese are the only team capable of matching Brazil’s attacking talent, but coach Fernando Santos has long been notoriously defensive. Portugal are perhaps the biggest boom or bust team in the tournament, with the quality to rival any team in the world, but a habit of disappointing with the talent at their disposal.

The biggest stars

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Lionel Messi (Argentina): These two have been compared and contrasted more than any contemporary athlete in history, and they fit together here.

This is almost certainly the last World Cup for the game’s two biggest stars. Messi and Ronaldo are the greatest players (and, perhaps, athletes) of their generation and two of the greatest of all time, the defining names of the last 20 years in sports.

They have similar CVs: more Ballon D’or as the best player in the world than any other man in history, numerous Champions League titles at club level, international successes (a triumph at the Euro for Ronaldo and Portugal in 2016, a Copa America victory for Messi and Argentina in 2021), staggering goalscoring records that changed the way we think about the game, and almost bulletproof legacies like two of the best to ever do it.

All they miss is the biggest prize in the game. Messi fell terribly short in the 2014 final, while Ronaldo never really came close. Messi is back to his best for PSG and Argentina looks threatening. Ronaldo’s form has fallen off a cliff for Manchester United, although he has never let the national team down.

Neymar (Brazil): Inclined for greatness since becoming a superstar as a teenager in Brazil, few players in history have been burdened with greater expectations than Neymar, and he has just about managed to meet them with flair. , nearly unparalleled creativity and attacking ability.

He is probably the third greatest player of this generation, only behind the two transcendent names that precede him here, but he will never quite get his credit in a country that lives for the World Cup until he himself leads Brazil to the trophy. He may never have a better chance than in Qatar.

Kylian Mbappe (France): A team-mate to Neymar and Messi at PSG, Mbappe was the prodigious teenager who helped France to a World Cup in 2018. Now he’s an established global superstar and the reigning champion’s best player, and after a summer and a tumultuous autumn facing his contract renewal and standing at PSG, he will be keen to prove again that he is one of the best in the world when the pressure is strong.

Kylian Mbappe plays for Paris Saint-Germain in the French Ligue 1.FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Amin Touri can be contacted at [email protected]

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