The 2022 FIFA World Cup has never felt closer.
With the group stage draw just a matter of days away and the final qualifying games starting to wrap up, football fans are slowly starting to realise that the competition’s first ever winter edition is almost upon us.
Sure, we’ve got the conclusion of the Premier League, Champions League and more, as well as the first-half of the 2022/23 season, still to come, but don’t pretend as though you’re not already looking forward to Qatar.
Excitement for the 2022 World Cup
And that will especially be the case once FIFA reveal how the group stages will take shape because that suddenly allows supporters to map how certain countries might make it to the final.
With no knockout stage draws or third-place shenanigans like the Euros, once the group stage draw is confirmed, you know exactly how your nation might be taking each step towards global domination.
However, even though the draw will be taking place on Friday, there are still plenty of narrative threads that need tying up first and we’re not just talking about the qualifiers that will be played in the mean time.
Even when the balls are being rustled around at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, we’ll still only know who 29 of the 32 competitors are – and that’s before we mention how all the pots are organised.
But fear not, dear reader, because we know that you’re feeling impatient and want to get ahead of the game, so allow us to assuage restlessness and give you an idea of how the 2022 World Cup might shape up.
Simulation of 2022 World Cup
That’s because The Sun ran a simulator that predicted how the group stage draw might look, motoring through the remaining qualifiers and forecasting how the 32 teams might be postured.
Naturally, it is only that, a simulator, but it’s nevertheless an interesting portal into what the tournament you’re so excited about might actually look like because, let’s face it, it’s not always easy to keep track.
So, apply a pinch of salt where relevant and check out how the 2022 World Cup might look by checking out the interesting result of The Sun’s simulation down below:
(*) teams that are yet to qualify
Look, hosts Qatar are going to have their backs against the wall on home soil, so they’ll be delighted if the draw comes out like this and gives them the best possible chance of reaching the second round.
Seeing the Low Countries derby with Virgil van Dijk going toe-to-toe with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku would be one of the games of the group stages – and that’s before they lock horns with Sadio Mane.
A pair of former World Cup winners lead another strong group in which Portugal-conquering Serbia and Alphonso Davies-led Canada would still fancy their chances of causing an upset.
So, there’s good news and there’s bad news, England fans. The good news is that the simulation sets up a favourable chance of qualification, but the bad news is that a clash with Germany awaits them.
From Neymar to Luka Modric and Robert Lewandowski to Riyad Mahrez, there would be no shortage of star quality on display in one of the tastier groups thrown up by the simulation.
Yes, believe it or not, Portugal are on course to land in pot one regardless of needing to qualify through the play-offs and that could land them a favourable draw much like the one foreseen by the simulation.
The reigning world champions might have tripped over their own feet with just a single win at Euro 2020, but they should be comfortable enough even in a group containing a strong Danish side and Heung-min Son.
United States of America*
Don’t write off the possibility that Lionel Messi could genuinely conquer the globe in Qatar and while there are no easy draws in the World Cup, the South American champions would fancy their chances here.
So, although many of the teams still have to qualify and the pots are yet to be finalised, you now have some idea of how the wall chart in your bedroom might look when November rolls around.
There will certainly be mixed feelings amongst England fans if the simulation comes true with a blockbuster clash against Germany lined up, but you know what they say: to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
However, no matter how different the final group stage draw might look, the moral of the story is that it’s time to get excited and we’re not going to apologise for getting slight ahead of ourselves.