Last week I shared all the stages of the world cup from start to finish. This week I am focusing on the Group Stage and sharing my awesome “Winners Bracket” World Cup Poster which you can download for free. I recommend you print it out as a handy reference guide. Mark the winners in the space allocated on the poster.
The story so far
This Week Featuring the Birds of Group C & Group D
Introducing the birds of Group C & Group D. They are:
- France’s majestic “Coq Gaulois” (Gallic Rooster)
- Tunisia’s proud bald eagle
- Saudi Arabia’s fierce “Green Falcon”
- Poland’s sage & unique “White Falcon”
Back to Seeds & Pots in the Winners Bracket
As we saw in my previous post, the 7 top seeds of the competition are put into pots and then drawn out first for the Group. The exception being Group A as the Host nation will be the seeded team.
But with every other Group, you will see one of the Top Seeds leading the Group stage. Which puts the team drawn to play against them for the first game at a disadvantage. It’s always nice to start a competition with 3 points on the table. In this post, I take a closer look at how this might play out.
The FIFA Best Player Award
The FIFA Best Player award for 2022 won’t be announced until the World Cup. Group C has at least two contenders for the award who have previously won it – Leo Messi (Argentina) and Robert Lewandowski (Poland). As I keep saying, all the Group Stage games will be worth watching, but those featuring one of these players will be absolute fan-magnets. Therefore, Game 39, with both Messi and Lewandowski, will be a well-hyped event.
Group C on the World Cup Poster
Argentina is the top seed
|Draw Place||Nation||Confederation||FIFA Ranking|
Notes: AFC – Asian Football Federation; CONCACAF – Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football; CONMEBOL – Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol, South America; UEFA – Union of European Football Associations;
The numbers on the poster reflect the game order (64 games in total) and the date the match will be decided. For Example, In Group C, Game 5 is Argentina v Saudi Arabia, played on 22nd November.
World Cup Poster: Group C
Average ranking: 23.25
Argentina is not only the clear stand-out from this group based on global ranking but is also a favorite to win the whole competition. All eyes will be following Messi – as he plays his last World Cup at 35 years old (unless he’s called up in 4 year’s time). And Messi has never won a World Cup. Is this his year?
Regardless, Argentina are very likely to get through the Group stage. In theory, their closest rival would be Mexico. But let’s take a closer look.
Mexico is the top-ranked team in CONCACAF. The Mexican team has appeared in 17 World Cups – this is not their first rodeo. What’s more, they haven’t missed a cup since 1994. They consistently make it out of the Group Stage and have done this over the last 7 consecutive World Cups. The have been ranked as high as #9 in 2021 and will be keen to climb back up the ladder with World Cup success.
Poland’s performance at the 2018 World cup saw them finish at the bottom of their group. While their trajectory to the World Cup finals was smooth after FIFA suspended Russia for all international competition. This gave Poland automatic passage to the play-off finals. But still, they will bring some magic in the person of Robert Lewandowski, the Polish Captain and Number 9 striker, currently playing for FC Barcelona. If the team can get behind “Lewangoalski”, there is no telling how far Poland can get in this competition.
Saudi Arabi (AFC)
Saudi Arabi are lined up for their 2nd consecutive World Cup and they did make it out of the Group Stage in 2018. With all players currently playing in the Saudi domestic teams, only Head Coach, Herve Renard, brings an international flavor.
Going back to our seeds and pots, Saudi is one of the least experienced on the World Cup stage. They are not globally ranked in the Top 50. Yet their first game will be against top-seeded Argentina. This is followed by another UEFA team and strong contender, Poland. Which only leaves one game to play to get some points on the board. It will be an uphill battle for them, although the Saudis have been champions in the ticket sales department and will be turning out in force with only a sub-1.5-hour flight to get to the game. They can FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) and not even bother with booking accommodation.
World Cup Poster: Group D
Average ranking: 20.5
|Draw Place||Nation||Confederation||FIFA Ranking|
Note: AFC – Asian Football Federation; CAF – Confederation Africaine de Football, Africa; UEFA – Union of European Football Associations
France & Denmark (UEFA)
Group D also has two members from the UEFA confederation, France and Denmark. Top seeded France and the 2018 World cup winner is ranked 4th in the world and everyone will be very surprised if they fail to bust out of the Group Stage.
But it has to be said that their 2-0 loss to Denmark in September in the UEFA Nations League casts a shadow on Qatar. Injuries have also been a factor. They are still a favorite to win, but Game 24 will be one to watch.
Players like Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema – the recent Ballon d’Or winner, will give fans who’ve secured tickets for these Group Stage games a lot to love.
Denmark are a serious threat as they line up for their sixth FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Rankings are a crude indicator of future success and provide a guideline only. Expecially for the punters. The #10 ranked Denmark has some quality players. Their rise in the rankings has been meteoric, a trajectory that just may continue.
With such competition from the UEFA nations, how does this place the other two members of Group D?
Australia had a long and difficult qualifying journey, only managing to grab a berth in the play-off against Peru on penalty shootout. But Australians love being the underdog, and this is their 5th straight World Cup. History, however, is not on their side as Australia had the same two UEFA teams in their 2018 World Cup draw where they finished bottom of the table with a single point.
This is their 6th World Cup appearance. They have neverald been able to get out of the Group Stage and given two strong teams from UEFA, it is unlikely that this is their year to do it.
The Top 2 from Group C & D will meet each other in the Round of 16. Fill in the Winners Bracket as the game progresses
The Top 2 Teams from Group C & D will play off in the Round of 16. In game 50, the top C team will verse the 2nd D team; Game 51 will be the top D team against the 2nd C Team. Then, only the winners from the Round of 16 will advance to the Quarter finals. Be sure to record your winners in the space on your FREE World Cup Poster.