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2022 World Cup Group F preview, teams, odds: Clock ticking for Belgium, Croatia looking for return to Final

Kevin De Bruyne Belgium World Cup Group F preview
FILE – Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the World Cup 2022 group E qualifying soccer match between Wales and Belgium at Cardiff City stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

The second and third-place finishers of the 2018 World Cup in Russia find themselves in Group F as Croatia and Belgium look to go one step further in Qatar. But first, they’ll have to navigate through Canada and Morocco. 

2022 World Cup Group F preview

Belgium

Romelu Lukaku Belgium World Cup
FILE – Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku reacts during the World Cup 2022 group E qualifying soccer match between Estonia and Belgium at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, Estonia, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Raul Mee, File)
  • FIFA Rank: 2nd
  • Qualification: Group E winners in UEFA qualifying
  • Previous World Cup appearances: 13
  • Best finish: 3rd Place (2018)
  • Odds to win group: -190
  • Odds to make knockout stage: -750
  • Odds to win World Cup: +1600

In 10 years we could look back at 2018 as Belgium’s best chance at a World Cup. While they still have an abundance of talent, some of their most important pieces are uncertainties heading to Qatar. Romelu Lukaku has dealt with injury issues since August while Eden Hazard’s playing time has been incredibly sparse. They also have a slower, aging defense — but there’s still enough to see this team go far.

X-Factor: Kevin De Bruyne One of the finest playmaking midfielders on the planet, De Bruyne is a superstar at Manchester City and will be the driving creative force of the Belgians in Qatar. It’s unclear just how strong his usual support system of Hazard and Lukaku will be, which puts further stress on his performance.

Belgium World Cup Roster

Position Player Club
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois Real Madrid
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet Club Brugge
Goalkeeper Koen Casteels Wolfsburg
Defender Jan Vertonghen Anderlecht
Defender Toby Alderweireld Royal Antwerp
Defender Wout Faes Leicester
Defender Zeno Debast Anderlecht
Defender Arthur Theate Rennes
Defender Thomas Meunier Borussia Dortmund
Defender Timothy Castagne Leicester City
Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City
Midfielder Youri Tielemans Leicester City
Midfielder Amadou Onana Everton
Midfielder Axel Witsel Atletico Madrid
Midfielder Hans Vanaken Club Brugge
Midfielder Leander Dendoncker Aston Villa
Midfielder Yannick Carrasco Atletico Madrid
Midfielder Thorgan Hazard Borussia Dortmund
Forward Eden Hazard Real Madrid
Forward Charles De Ketelaere AC Milan
Forward Leandro Trossard Brighton
Forward Dries Mertens Galatasaray
Forward Jeremy Doku Rennes
Forward Romelu Lukaku Inter Milan
Forward Michy Batshuayi Fenerbahce
Forward Lois Openda Lens

 

Canada

Alphonso Davies Canada World Cup
FILE – Canada’s Alphonso Davies celebrates his penalty-kick goal against Curacao during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League soccer match Thursday, June 9. 2022, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
  • FIFA Rank: 41st
  • Qualification: Finished 1st in CONCACAF qualifying
  • Previous World Cup appearances: 1
  • Best finish: Group Stage (1986)
  • Odds to win group: +1000
  • Odds to make knockout stage: +275
  • Odds to win World Cup:+25000

Canada isn’t just a one-trick pony, which seemed to be the reputation at times throughout their surprising run through World Cup qualifying. A ton of the focus will deservedly be on Alphonso Davies. Without him, Canada isn’t playing at its second-ever World Cup. But a team predicated on defense will hope that the sum of its parts can continue surprising the soccer world.

X-Factor: Alphonso Davies The most recognizable and gifted Canadian soccer player in the world, Davies has reached remarkable heights playing in the back line of German giants Bayern Munich. With his national side, though, Davies will be looked on as more of a creative, attacking player down the wing to facilitate Les Rouges’ offense. It remains to be seen just how fit he’ll be after suffering a hamstring injury recently, but he’ll still be giving it a go on the big stage.

Canada World Cup Roster

Position Player Club
Goalkeeper Milan Borgan Red Star Belgrade
Goalkeeper James Pantemis CF Montreal
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair Minnesota United
Defender Sam Adekugbe Hatayspor
Defender Derek Cornelius Vancouver Whitecaps
Defender Alistair Johnston CF Montreal
Defender Richie Laryea Nottingham Forest
Defender Kamal Miller CF Montreal
Defender Steven Vitoria Chaves
Defender Joel Waterman CF Montreal
Midfielder Stephen Eustaquio FC Porto
Midfielder Liam Fraser Deinze
Midfielder Atiba Hutchinson Besiktas
Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye Toronto FC
Midfielder Ismael Kone CF Montreal
Midfielder Jonathan Osorio Toronto FC
Midfielder Samuel Piette CF Montreal
Midfielder David Wotherspoon St. Johnstone
Forward Tajon Buchanan Club Brugge
Forward Lucas Cavallini Vancouver Whitecaps
Forward Jonathan David Lille
Forward Alphonso Davies Bayern Munich
Forward Junior Hoillett Reading
Forward Cyle Larin Club Brugge
Forward Liam Miller FC Basel
Forward Ike Ugbo Royes

 

Croatia

Luka Modric Croatia World Cup
FILE – Croatia’s Luka Modric is in action during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Croatia and Austria at the Gradski Vrt stadium in Osijek, Croatia, Friday, June 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
  • FIFA Rank: 12th
  • Qualification: Group H winners in UEFA qualifying
  • Previous World Cup appearances: 5
  • Best finish: 2nd place (2018)
  • Odds to win group: +200
  • Odds to make knockout stage: -200
  • Odds to win World Cup: +5000

It still can’t be stated enough just how impressive Croatia’s run to the 2018 World Cup Final was given how small of a nation (and how recent their soccer history) they are. While their odds are longer to return to that stage, the Vatreni and manager Zlatko Dalic has done well to freshen up an aging backline to ensure that the talisman Luka Modric has more freedom to direct an extremely talented midfield that boasts the likes of Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic and Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic.

X-Factor: Luka Modric This will likely be the final World Cup for Modric, who has helped put Croatian soccer on the map behind a wonderful career with Real Madrid that included a Ballon d’Or in 2018. At 37 years old, the captain is still the heart and soul of the squad.

Croatia World Cup Roster

Position Player Club
Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic Dinamo Zagreb
Goalkeeper Ivica Ivusic Osijek
Goalkeeper Ivo Grbic Atletico Madrid
Defender Domagoj Vida AEK Athens
Defender Dejan Lovren Zenit Saint Petersburg
Defender Borna Barisic Rangers
Defender Josip Juranovic Celtic
Defender Josko Gvardiol RB Leipzig
Defender Borna Sosa Stuttgart
Defender Josip Stanisic Bayern Munich
Defender Martin Erlic Sassuolo
Defender Josip Sutalo Dinamo Zagreb
Midfielder Luka Modric Real Madrid
Midfielder Mateo Kovacic Chelsea
Midfielder Marcelo Brozovic Inter Milan
Midfielder Mario Pasalaic Atalanta
Midfielder Nikola Vlasic Torino
Midfielder Lovro Majer Rennes
Midfielder Kristijan Jakic Eintracht Frankfurt
Midfielder Luka Sucic RB Salzburg
Forward Ivan Perisic Tottenham
Forward Andrej Kramaric Hoffenheim
Forward Bruno Petkovic Dinamo Zagreb
Forward Mislav Orsic Dinamo Zagreb
Forward Ante Budimir Osasuna
Forward Marko Livaja Hajduk Split

 

Morocco

Hakim Ziyech Morocco World Cup
Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech in action during an international friendly soccer match between Morocco and Chile at the Cornella-El Prat stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
  • FIFA Rank: 22nd
  • Qualification: Defeated DR Congo in CAF 3rd Round
  • Previous World Cup appearances: 5
  • Best finish: Round of 16 (1986)
  • Odds to win group: +850
  • Odds to make knockout stage: +200
  • Odds to win World Cup: +25000

Morocco didn’t have much trouble finding its way to Qatar for its sixth-ever World Cup appearance. They won all six games during the group stage of qualifying before hammering Congo 5-2 in the third round. While they very well could be the least-known squad in the group, they have an abundance of talent playing in the best leagues in the world — which can best be seen up front and in defense.

X-Factor: Hakim Ziyech All eyes will undoubtedly be on PSG star wing-back Achraf Hakimi, but it’ll be Ziyech that could add another dimension to the Moroccans’ game. The Chelsea star announced his international retirement after a falling out with former manager Vahid Halilhodzic that saw him seldom used this year. But with Walid Regragui calling the shots, he’s back to provide a boost for the Atlas Lions.

Morocco World Cup Roster

Position Player Club
Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou Sevilla
Goalkeeper Munir El Kajoui Al Wehda
Goalkeeper Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti Wydad Casablanca
Defender Nayef Aguerd West Ham United
Defender Yahia Attiat Allah Wydad Casablanca
Defender Badr Benoun Qatar SC
Defender Achraf Dari Stade Brest
Defender Jawad El Yamiq Real Valladolid
Defender Achraf Hakimi PSG
Defender Noussair Mazraoui Bayern Munich
Defender Romain Saiss Besiktas
Midfielder Sofyan Amrabat Fiorentina
Midfielder Selim Amallah Standard Liege
Midfielder Bilal El Khannouss Genk
Midfielder Yahya Jabrane Wydad Casablanca
Midfielder Azzedine Ounahi Angers
Midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri Sampdoria
Forward Zakaria Aboukhlal Toulouse
Forward Soufiane Boufal Angers
Forward Ilias Chair Queens Park Rangers
Forward Walid Cheddira Bari
Forward Youssef En-Nesyri Sevilla
Forward Abde Ezzalzouli Osasuna
Forward Abderrazak Hamdallah Al Ittihad
Forward Amine Harit Marseille
Forward Hakim Ziyech Chelsea

*Odds courtesy of DraftKings

 

2022 World Cup Group F schedule

Date Match Time TV
Wednesday, Nov. 23 Morocco v. Croatia 5 AM FS1
Wednesday, Nov. 23 Belgium v. Canada 2 PM FOX
Sunday, Nov. 27 Belgium v. Morocco 8 AM FS1
Sunday, Nov. 27 Croatia v. Canada 11 AM FOX
Thursday, Dec. 1 Croatia v. Belgium 10 AM FOX
Thursday, Dec. 1 Canada v. Morocco 10 AM FS1

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