(File photo) Cook Islands team before Solomon Islands match. OFC/22031702
Footballing superstars will grace the world’s biggest stage from 21 November to 18 December at the FIFA World Cup 2022™ in Qatar.
After Friday’s Final Draw, we now know that many battles between the best players on the planet will take place during the first phase of the tournament.
To whet your appetite, we take a look at a few
mouth-watering individual meetings to look out for during the group phase in
A: Sadio Mane v Virgil van Dijk
at Liverpool since 2018, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Dutch defender Virgil van
Dijk will be fierce enemies at Qatar 2022 as they bid to help their nations
reach the knockout stages.
their time together on Merseyside, they have won the FIFA Club World Cup, the
UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the Premier League and the League
Cup. But who will come out on top in their World Cup showdown?
B: Christian Pulisic v Harry Kane
attackers for London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, USA’s
Christian Pulisic and England talisman Harry Kane are set to do battle in
players have shone at FIFA tournaments before, with Pulisic helping Chelsea
lift the FIFA World Club Cup and Kane playing a starring role in England’s run
to the semi-finals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
C: Lionel Messi v Robert Lewandowski
and defences will have their work cut out in Group C, especially with two of
the world’s deadliest goalscorers – Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski – on
2021, Lewandowski was named The Best FIFA Men’s Player, while Messi won the
Ballon d’Or. With their nations set to face each other in the final round of
group games, will the battle between these two superstars decide who progresses
to the knockout stages at the expense of the other?
D: Christian Eriksen v Paul Pogba
Eriksen’s potential return to World Cup action would be one of the biggest
stories at Qatar 2022. If he features for Denmark in November and December, he
will be up against one of the best midfielders on the planet: France’s Paul
FIFA World Cup winner with Les Bleus in 2018 and a Manchester United star since
2016, the Frenchman has frequently come across Eriksen, who played for
Tottenham Hotspur between 2013 and 2020.
E: Cesar Azpilicueta v Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller, one of the greatest goalscorers in FIFA World Cup history, will
be in for a difficult game against Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta in Qatar.
The Germany – Spain fixture will therefore see
two former FIFA Club World Cup winners lock horns, since Muller’s Bayern Munich
were crowned World Champions in 2020, while Azpilicueta’s Chelsea lifted the
same title a year later.
F: Kevin De Bruyne v Luke Modric
vs. Croatia is one of the most eagerly anticipated group games at Qatar 2022,
mainly due to the mouth-watering contest between midfield maestros Kevin De
Bruyne and Luka Modric.
and De Bruyne were among the star performers at Russia 2018, when Croatia and
Belgium finished second and third respectively.
G: Neymar v Xherdan Shaqiri
you love the art of dribbling, then you will not want to miss any of the action
in Group G, especially Brazil-Switzerland. This standout fixture will pit Neymar,
one of the most skilful players of his generation, against one-on-one supremo
and Switzerland also met in the group stages at Russia 2018, playing out a 1-1
H: Cristiano Ronaldo v Luis Suarez
of the greatest goalscorers of all time, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo will
strut his stuff in Group H, which also features Uruguayan's all-time leading
marksman, Luis Suarez.
meeting of their teams will evoke memories of past Clásicos, with Ronaldo
having played for Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018, and Suarez having sported
the colours of Barcelona from 2014 to 2020.