The invitation list for this year’s tournament in Qatar is not yet complete, but the draw for the World Cup has been decided. Although teams now know who, and when, they will play, there are still plenty of questions about how things will play out in the first Winter World Cup in football. Here is a primer of the greatest sports philosophy in the world.
When is the World Cup?
The tournament kicks off on November 21 (three days before Thanksgiving in the United States) with four matches, the start of four full 12-day games in a football. Next month, all games will be held in a tight circle of eight stadiums in and around Doha, the capital of Qatar, making it the most compact World Cup in history.
Final December 18 – One week before Christmas.
Who are the favorites?
Brazil, France, England and Spain are the top four picks for the oddsmaker, followed by another hereditary group: Argentina, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The usual suspects qualified early, many of them, in fact, our soccer columnist, Rory Smith, wrote in November that “the probable winner is already there.”
In all, only eight countries have won the World Cup and seven have returned. (Sorry, Italy. See you next time. Maybe.)
Who will play the United States?
The Americans have qualified again after missing the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They have landed in a curious team that includes England, Iran and a European opponent to be scheduled for the June play-offs (the survivors will be from Wales, Scotland or Ukraine).
The United States has experience against two of its known opponents. This led England to their first-round group win in South Africa in 2010, but lost to Iran in 1998 in a politically charged match.
They will also run: the United States will face the European play-off winner on the first day of the tournament on November 21 and then four days later, against England on Black Friday. The group stage will end on November 29 with a match against Iran.
What’s next? The group of Americans will be paired with teams advancing from Group A – a division that includes Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands – in 16 rounds.
Wait, won’t they play the World Cup in July?
They were always there until Qatar was found.
Qatar, like other bidders, initially offered to hold the tournament in its usual summer window, and removed any suggestion that it could not do so with cooling technology that did not exist at the time. On election day in 2010, the Times wrote:
“Qatar’s bid has allayed concerns about the heat, which could reach 120 degrees in the summer. Officials say they will build air-conditioned stadiums, spend 4 4 billion to upgrade three arenas, and build nine new ones in a compact area connected to a subway system. “
It took more than four years, but in 2015 FIFA, the world governing body for football, finally decided that the Summer World Cup in 120 degrees Celsius could bring unnecessary problems (e.g., say, the death of fans and players) and agreed to move the tournament to November. And December is a relatively cool month.
Then what is usually the league games?
Oh, the league buzz. Lots. But they lost.
Turning to winter will not only disrupt league competition in Europe and elsewhere, but also the lucrative UEFA Champions League, and the season will have to start earlier or end later, or both.
A Winter World Cup will also leave professionals who do not travel to Qatar – with less than 800 players from around the world – a mid-season break that could extend up to two months, once pre-tournament camps and pre-tournament and post-cup breaks. .
Fox Sports, which has paid millions of dollars for broadcasting rights in the United States, will have to stay close to another fall game in a month of soccer games that demands attention at that time of year. Maybe you’ve heard of the NFL?
How many teams will enter?
Total 32. They were divided into eight groups of four in the draw, which did not significantly include what seemed to be the traditional group of death. The top two finishers in each group advance to the Round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a live knockout tournament.
Which countries have qualified?
Qatar has automatically qualified as the host and so far 28 teams have joined. These include the largest teams in Europe and South America: England and Germany, Brazil and Argentina, France and Spain.
There is Canada. There are the United States and Mexico. Ukraine can still go. Russia will not.
Three places remain unclaimed. One would come from Europe, where Ukraine’s play-off war against Scotland was postponed. The teams will face off in June, with the winner facing Wales in the European final.
The other two entries will come from two intercontinental playoffs that month: Costa Rica will face New Zealand, Oceania Survival team in a game, and fifth-placed South American team Peru will face an Asian team, either Australia or the United Arab Emirates.
What are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo going to do?
Yes and yes.
Argentina and Messi qualified in November. But the European playoffs were sweating after Portugal and Ronaldo were denied a guaranteed route to the group stage final.
Erling Holland, for one. (Norway did not qualify.) Mohamed Salah. (Egypt lost to Senegal on penalty kicks for the second time in a month.)
Oh, and Italy. But it is not new for them. The Italians also missed the 2018 tournament. Oops
When are the games?
Qatar is in the same time zone as Moscow. So for the 2018 games, the technique you used to wake up early (or wake up late) will work again. But that would mean 4 a.m. east and 2 p.m. east.