November 17, 2022 12:04 AM
Alex Lawes

2022 FIFA World Cup Predictions: Group F

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FIFA ranking: 2

FIFA World Cup appearances: 14th Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Third (2018)

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Captain: Eden Hazard

The so-called ‘golden generation’ is finally coming to an end with just one semi-final appearance in four tournaments over the last decade.

The Red Devils have a defence that is ageing beyond anything else among the elite nations heading to Qatar. With Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, both playing their trade back in the Jupiler Pro League, they will probably be reliant on Leicester’s impressive Wout Faes for anything near to a bit of speed at the back.

The same can be said for the rest of the spine, really, with Axel Witsel struggling in his move to Atletico Madrid, Eden Hazard continuing to sadly look a shadow of the player he once was and Romelu Lukaku struggling with injuries throughout this campaign after a terrible season at Chelsea.

There remains bright sparks and those bright sparks are two of the best football players on the planet. Thibaut Courtois has been in the form of his life, and his form throughout his career has been pretty good, over the last 18 months or so and Kevin De Bruyne has a fair argument to be the best creative midfielder in world football.

The Belgian’s do have some fresh talent sprinkled throughout the squad with the aforementioned Faes and then AC Milan’s Charles De Ketelaere, but he has also struggled since his move from Club Brugge in the summer. The form of Leandro Trossard is something that should excite Belgium supporters.

TSZ Prediction: Round of 16


FIFA ranking: 41

FIFA World Cup appearances: Second Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Groups (1986)

Manager: John Herdman

Captain: Atiba Hutchinson

Under the management of John Herdman, Canada have been very impressive and constantly improving in recent years, capping that off with qualification to their first FIFA World Cup in 36 years, finishing at the top of CONCACAF qualification.

The Reds have some stars littered through their squad but primarily, if not exclusively in fact, in attack. The likes of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David are ably supported by Junior Hoilett and Cyle Larin. Some key young players have begun to establish themselves as impressive UEFA Champions League performers, too, with Tajon Buchanan at Club Brugge and Stephen Eustaquio at Porto.

The Canadians play a relatively direct style in the sense of their aim is to get the ball to their effective players up-front as quickly as possible but that doesn’t mean they won’t be easy on the eye or relatively enjoyable to watch.

Despite that positivity, though, they are in a very tough group with three teams that will also fancy themselves as the so-called ‘dark horses’ this year.

TSZ Prediction: Group stage


FIFA ranking: 22

FIFA World Cup appearances: Sixth Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Round of 16 (1986)

Manager: Walid Regragui

Captain: Romain Saiss

Over the summer, Morocco decided to replace Vahid Halilhodzic, the man who qualified them for the FIFA World Cup, with Walid Regragui. Incidentally, the same thing happened to Halilhodzic when in charge of Japan ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Halilhodzic had fallen out with some key players, such as Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui, but his departure has led to the return of those players into the fold and they form part of a strong Moroccan squad.

Morocco could have named eight players in their starting eleven that had played UEFA competition football this season but they will have to settle for seven due to an injury to Amine Harit, which has kept the Marseille creator out of this tournament, replaced by Burnley’s Anass Zaroury.

The Atlas Lions come into this on the back of a goalless draw with Paraguay and a comfortable 2-0 win against Chile in their friendlies in September. Whilst they will be confident of causing some spells of danger for Belgium and Croatia, it remains a big ask to get out of the group.

TSZ Prediction: Group stage


FIFA ranking: 12

FIFA World Cup appearances: Sixth Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Runners’ up (1998)

Manager: Zlatko Dalic

Captain: Luka Modric

Back in 2018, Croatia went through one hell of a ride to reach the final of the FIFA World Cup. They were beaten 4-2 by France in Moscow after a 120-minute slog against England in the semi-finals which had followed back-to-back penalty shootout victories over hosts, Russia, and Denmark.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croats had a difficult couple of years following that high and were poor at UEFA Euro 2020, as well as being below par in the UEFA Nations League.

However, in the third edition of the UEFA Nations League, things seemed to have clicked for them. They finished at the top of a tough league that consisted of France and Denmark, as well as Austria and their 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia last week extended their impressive run of form to just one defeat in their last 16 matches since an extra-time 5-3 defeat to Spain in the Round of 16 at UEFA Euro 2020.

They have a new generation of defenders coming through with Josko Gvardiol and Borna Sosa, as well as continuing to boast an impressive midfield of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic.

TSZ Prediction: Round of 16

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