Soccer’s Premier International Tournament Commences With World Cup Qualifiers

Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup this November and December.

As the world watched in anticipation, 29 of the 32 teams that will be competing in this November’s long-awaited FIFA World Cup have been finalized. Played every four years, the World Cup has been the most prestigious soccer tournament since its commencement in 1930. The 2022 qualifiers began nearly two years ago on June 6, 2019. Then, only the host country, Qatar, had a guaranteed spot. Since then, teams from around the world have fought for 13 European, 8 North and South American, 5 African, 5 Asia and Oceania spots. The tournament will take place throughout November and December due to the difficult weather conditions in Qatar during the typical months of June and July.

The qualifying tournaments are organized by FIFA’s respective sub confederations and are held within six continental areas. This year, there was no shortage of shock in the tournaments. For example, Italy’s loss to North Macedonia meant that the reigning European Football Champions would not be heading to the World Cup for the second tournament in a row. Sweden also surprised many fans after failing to qualify despite the previously lofty expectations. Many fans were also ecstatic about the U.S. heading for the World Cup after failing to qualify the previous tournament. Headed by Christian Pulisic, dubbed “Captain America,” and other rising players such as Gio Reyna, the American team secured decisive results to secure their place in the World Cup.

Following qualifications, the Group Stage Draw for the tournament occurred on April 1. This is a vital element of the tournament as the World Cup consists of 8 groups, each with four countries. Each nation will play every other in its group, and the top two in each group advance to the round of 16. The U.S. was placed in Group B with England, Iran, and either Scotland, Ukraine, or Wales. While England is particularly strong and Iran can also hold its own, there is a decent chance that the American side may emerge from the group stage.

It is widely expected that Argentina, Brazil, and France will have dominant performances. Argentina is home to the arguable best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi, and has dynamic players such as Paulo Dybala to lead a potent attack. France, the reigning World Cup Champions, also boast a strong squad with a particularly lethal midfield. France did, however, suffer a disappointing loss against Switzerland in the Round of 16 during last year’s Euros. Brazil could be the most well-rounded team of the entire tournament. A lethal sleeper team could be the Shaqiri-led Swiss squad.

Ultimately, however, under the lights of the world’s biggest stage, any team may emerge victorious.