2022 World Cup: Group F

0
184

Belgium (2nd)

Belgium National Team Photo: REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Belgium has been crowned number #1 in the world numerous times. However, they are the only number #1 team to never win a tournament. Their 2018 performance is the closest they have ever been to winning. Ultimately, finishing 3rd. Their European Championship history is much the same. The highest-ever finish was 2nd in 1980. Recently, they finished 5th, losing in the quarter-finals of the 2020 Championship. Belgium did decent in the Nations League, making it out of groups and finishing 4th. Belgium’s recent form leaves lots to be desired. They have struggled against top competition. Two losses to the Netherlands(8th). Two losses to Italy(6th) and one loss to France(4th). The first Netherlands(8th) loss was the most embarrassing. The Dutch poured on 4 goals before Belgium scored a last-second goal in garbage time. The France game saw Belgium lose after being up by 2 goals with 30 minutes left. The victories and draws have not been as strong for a team that is 2nd in the world. Two wins against Poland(26th). One was their strongest performance, winning 6-1 and a win over Wales(19th). Two draws, one against Wales and a draw with Ireland(49th). 

Belgium’s Strength is its star power. Kevin de Bruyne is among the best, if not the best, attacking midfielder in the world. Romelu Lukaku is a mainstay in the national team for the last 10 years. Thibaut Courtois is among the best keepers in the world. 

Belgium’s Weakness is the age of the backline, specifically their centre-backs. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are 33 and 35 respectively. There are no clear replacements in the squad for the two who have been mainstays since their early twenties. They have both started to decline physically because of their age. This is likely to be their final tournament.

Player to Watch: Kevin De Bruyne 

Kevin De Bruyne playing for Manchester City Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt AMA/Gettyimages

The 31-year-old is the best-attacking midfielder in the world. De Bruyne creates 6 shots per 90 minutes. He is among the highest goal scorers in the midfield in the world. Typically scoring 1 goal every 2 games. To put that in perspective, the average for a midfielder is 1 goal every 11 games. He also gets 1 assist every 2 games. To put that in perspective, the average is 1 assist every 9 games. He can do anything that a team needs on the attack.

Canada (41st) 

Canadian National Team Photo: AP Photo/Delmer Martinez

Canada’s history with the World Cup is non-existent. This is their second World Cup ever. They made it back in 1986. They have qualified for the World Cup in 2026 because they are a host nation. Their CONCACAF Championship history is better. Wins in 1985 and 2000, but recently, they are a mid-level team. They finished 4th in 2021. Canada’s recent form has been mediocre. Wins over Costa Rica(31st), Mexico(13th), the United States(16th), Qatar(50th), Honduras(80th), and Jamaica(64th). 7 wins through 10 games is amazing. The drag-down is their last 5 games. They have suffered three losses to Costa Rica(31st), Panama(60th), and Uruguay(14th).

Canada’s Strength comes from its newfound talent. Jonathan David has scored 9 goals through 12 this season in the top French League. Alphonso Davies is one of the best full-backs in the top German League.

Canada’s Weakness is most players do not play in one of the top leagues. To get better at anything, you must train against the best and must play against the best. A majority of the Canadian team does not. They play in less competitive leagues. The players are not used to playing against the best every week, so they will likely struggle against the best players.

Player to Watch: Jonathan David 

Jonathan David at LOSC Lille Photo: AFP

The 22-year-old striker has been on fire at the club level. He has 9 goals and 3 assists through 12 games at his club. The national level is no different, with 22 goals through 34 games. David is going to be essential to Canada making it out of the group stage. 

Morocco (22nd)

Moroccan National Team Photo: Getty Images

Morocco has not had the strongest history of success in the World Cup. They have only made it to the round of 16 once, back in 1986. Other than that, they fail to qualify for the tournament or fall in the group stage. In the 2019 African Cup of Nations, they finished 9th in the tournament. In the 2021 African Cup of Nations, they finished 5th. Their recent form is good. Only suffering two losses in the last 12 games. One was an extra-time loss to Egypt(39th). The other was the United States (16th). They have drawn against Paraguay(47th), DR Congo (73rd), and Gabon(81st). They been victorious over Chile(29th), Liberia(150th), South Africa(67th), DR Congo(73rd), and Ghana(61st). 

Morocco’s Strength comes from its wings, primarily in its full-backs. The two best players on this Morocco team are their full-backs. Both play in top-tier leagues. Both are in form for their respective clubs.

Morocco’s Weakness comes from its defense. Its depth and its starters are not world-beaters. Nayef Aguerd is the top centre-back for Morocco but is not playing regularly at his club, and when he does play, he does not make a difference. Achraf Dari is the other centre-back for Morocco. He is a regular starter but is below average in all defensive categories. 

Player to Watch: Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi Photo:IMAGO/NurPhoto

The 24-year-old full-back is one of the best in the world at this moment. An excellent tackler, recording 2.53 tackles per 90 minutes. He can play higher on the wing. This allows him to easily transition into the attack. A critical tool for the counterattack

Croatia (12th)

Croatian National Team Photo: Shutterstock/DarioZg

The Cinderella story from the 2018 World Cup has maintained excellence and ushered in a new era of soccer. Croatia failed to make it out of the group stage in the 2014 World Cup. No one foresaw the miracle run that Croatia would make in 2018, making the finals before losing to France. The highest finish since was 3rd in 1998, their first tournament after Yugoslavia split. Croatia in the European Championship are consistent round of 16 exits. Croatia’s recent form has been amazing. They have lost 1 of their last 8 games. A loss to Austria(34th) was the only blemish. One draw over Slovenia(63rd) and a draw over France(4th). The sport wins over Bulgaria(72nd), Denmark(10th) twice, France(4th), and Austria(34th). 

Croatia’s Strength is its midfield. Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders of his generation. He is still performing and has not slowed down. Marcelo Brozović is in the peak of his career and among the best passers in the top leagues. Mateo Kovačić is also among the best passing midfielders in the world. Their midfield depth is among the best in the world. 

Croatia’s Weakness is they have no clear goal scorer. There is only one person who has scored multiple goals over their last 8 games. It’s the midfielder Luka Modric with 2 goals. They need someone to score for another deep run. 

Player to Watch: Josip Šutalo

Josip Sutalo playing for Dinamo Zagreb Photo: Igor Soban/PIXSELL

The 22-year-old is a defensive back. Among the best in that position in the Croatian League. 2 interceptions per 90 minutes and 1.8 blocks per 90 minutes. A successful tournament can see him moving to a top league. 

Predictions

  • Belgium 1st
  • Croatia 2nd
  • Morocco 3rd
  • Canada 4th

Want an analysis of the other groups?

Comments

comments