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World Cup 2022, Day 4: The schedule, key players, what to expect | Qatar World Cup 2022

What awaits Morocco vs Croatia, Germany vs Japan, Spain vs Costa Rica and Belgium vs Canada in Qatar?

Four matches scheduled for Wednesday – Wednesday, November 23 – of Qatar World Cup 2022.

Schedule:

Morocco vs Croatia (Group F): 13:00 (10:00 GMT), Al Bayt . Stadium

Germany vs Japan (Group E): 16:00 (13:00 GMT), Khalifa International Stadium

Spain vs Costa Rica (Group E): 7pm (16h GMT), Al Thumama Stadium

Belgium vs Canada (Group F): 10pm (19:00 GMT), Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

What to expect:

Morocco vs Croatia

  • Croatia are entering this 2022 World Cup tournament in excellent form, having recently topped the UEFA Nations League group, which includes France, Denmark and Austria, and after a string of victories over all three teams in the European tournament. Europe.
Ivan Perisic of Croatia celebrates scoring during the Croatia vs Scotland match in 2021.
Ivan Perisic of Croatia celebrates scoring the third goal during the Croatia vs Scotland match at Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, in June 2021 [File: Paul Ellis/pool/Reuters]
  • However, Jordan coach Adnan Hamad thinks Morocco could be the team to watch at the World Cup as the North African team has the potential to surprise big.
Morocco fans wave a large flag in front of the World Cup countdown timer in Doha, Qatar.
Moroccan fans at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup countdown timer on the Corniche in Doha, Qatar [File: Hamad Mohammed/Reuters]
  • “The Moroccan team is considered the best Arab team to play in the Qatar World Cup. It features 20 professional players from major European leagues. In the qualifiers, it came through with a stellar record and has a great chance to move on from the group.” Hamad told Al Jazeera in a recent interview.

Players to watch:

  • Morocco’s superstar right-back Achraf Hakimi is one of those worth watching based on him unity for the national team and his club performances with Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. Hakimi’s flanking breakthroughs and precise crosses will be key to the Moroccan forwards’ attacks.
Morocco's Achraf Hakimi and Selim Amallah chat on the field during training session at Al Duhail Stadium, in Doha, Qatar.
Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi (right) and Selim Amallah (left) players during training at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium, in Doha, Qatar, on November 22, 2022 [Amanda Perobelli/Reuters]
  • Luka Modric is considered crucial to Croatia’s hopes of success in the tournament. Commanding the team and designing attacking play from central midfield, the 37-year-old is hugely admired and was awarded the prestigious 2018 Ballon d’Or, the highest individual award in the sport. this sport.
Croatia's Luka Modric
Croatia’s Luka Modric [File: Antonio Bronic/Reuters]

Germany vs Japan

  • Germany are not among the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup this time around, but as it has been said, the German team can never be discounted.
  • Despite being considered to be in a tough group, which includes Costa Rica, Japan and Spain, the Germans are expected to advance to the round of 16 and possibly even the semi-finals.
  • Japan tends to exceed expectations.
  • At the 2018 World Cup, the Japanese team reached the round of 16 despite being in a group with difficult opponents such as Poland, Senegal and Colombia.
  • The Japanese team has a number of players competing in European competitions and their 2022 World Cup squad is arguably better than ever in terms of technical qualities.
Japan's Ao Tanaka smiles while juggling the ball with his feet during practice.
Japan’s Tanaka Pond during training at the new Al Sadd SC 1 Training Base, in Doha, Qatar, on November 22, 2022 [Amanda Perobelli/Reuters]

Players to watch:

  • Daichi Kamada is a commercial attacking midfielder who is arguably the head of the Japanese team and arguably their most important player at the World Cup.
  • He is also said to have a winning spirit, having helped Eintracht Frankfurt win the Europa League in May 2022.
  • Germany have a solid squad with Ilkay Gundogan, Joshua Kimmich and Jamal Musiala in midfield, while a forward line with Mario Gotze, Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry is all said to be capable of scoring.
Germany train at Al Shamal Stadium in Qatar.
Germany practice at Al Shamal Stadium, Al Shamal, Qatar on November 21, 2022 [Annegret Hilse/Reuters]

Spain vs Costa Rica

  • Spain may not be absolute favorites won Qatar, but it is likely that they will be very hard to beat.
  • Spain has participated in every World Cup since 1978. Only five teams have a better overall record — Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy and Mexico.
  • Qatar 2022 marks Spain’s 16th appearance since the inaugural tournament took place in Uruguay in 1930.
Jordi Alba of Spain and Eric Garcia during their training at Qatar University Campus 1, Doha, Qatar.
Jordi Alba of Spain and Eric Garcia during their training at Qatar University Training School 1, Doha, Qatar, on November 22, 2022 [Albert Gea/Reuters]
  • Costa Rica, or “Los Ticos,” has had an impressive streak at the World Cup tournament since its debut in 1990.
  • The best performance of the Central American team was at the 2014 World Cup when they reached the quarterfinals, only to be eliminated by the Netherlands on penalties.
  • However, Los Ticos may have a hard time making it through to the group stage. They are placed in Group E, the so-called group of death, along with former champions Spain and Germany, and Asian powerhouse Japan.
Costa Rica celebrates after beating New Zealand in June at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Costa Rica at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha, Qatar, in June 2022 [File: Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Players to watch:

  • Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell, a striker with 118 appearances and 25 goals, is likely to lead the line alongside 22-year-old rising star Anthony Contreras. Captain Bryan Ruiz and Los Ticos most-capped player Celso Borges will run the game from the midfield.
  • Costa Rica boasts a solid defense with the likes of Juan Pablo Vargas and Oscar Duarte. Keylor Navas played a key role in securing his team’s tournament spot as he drew New Zealand in the playoffs.
Soccer Soccer - World Cup - Group E - Switzerland vs Costa Rica - Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia - June 27, 2018 Michael Lang of Switzerland vs. Joel Campbell of Costa Rica REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Joel Campbell of Costa Rica flies past Michael Lang of Switzerland during the 2018 World Cup in Russia [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]
  • Although Qatar is his first World Cup campaign, Spain’s hopes will likely rest on Pedro González López, aka Pedri, who turns 20 in November.
  • Described as one of the most promising young players in world football, the diminutive central midfielder has already established himself on the international stage and has earned critical acclaim.
Pedri celebrates his team's first goal.
Pedri celebrates after league team FC Barcelona scores against Celta Vigo in Barcelona, ​​Spain, in October 2022 [Albert Gea/Reuters]
  • As Al Jazeera’s David Childs writes, with seven wins and two draws in the last 10, Spain is starting the World Cup with confidence.

Belgium vs Canada

  • Canada has only participated in one other World Cup, the 1986 tournament in Mexico, and the team is expected to struggle through a tough group of Croatia and Belgium.
  • However, the team played a strong qualifying campaign that raised expectations that the Canadians might have a trick or two and some surprises.
Team Canada during training at the Umm Salal SC Training Base in Umm Salal, Qatar.
Team Canada during training at the Umm Salal SC Training Base in Umm Salal, Qatar, on November 22, 2022 [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
  • In qualifying, for example, they won 8 out of 14 games and took home surprise wins over the United States and Mexico.
  • Four years ago, Belgium team captivates fans with memorable victories over Japan and Brazil, sending them through to the semi-finals and finishing third overall — their best ever result in a World Cup campaign.
  • But there are doubts on the Belgian side this time around.
  • Their 2022 World Cup group stage will be challenging for Belgium as they face Canada, African powerhouse Morocco and Croatia – runners-up in the previous World Cup.
  • Will they be able to repeat the feat in the last World Cup?

Players to watch:

  • All eyes will be on Canada’s 22-year-old Alphonso Davies, as the whistle to start their World Cup campaign sounds.
  • Playing as a left-back for German club Bayern Munich, Davies is known for his speed, ability to dribble and shoot from a distance. He is considered one of the best players in the national group of the North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Confederations (CONCACAF).
Alphonso Davies of Canada plays against Bayern Munich in Munich, Germany.
Alphonso Davies of Canada against Bayern Munich in Munich, Germany, in May 2022 [File: Heiko Becker/Reuters]
  • Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne are expected to shoulder tournament success for Belgium, while Charles De Ketelaere is the young gun to watch.
Thibaut Courtois of Belgium during training at the Salwa Training Area, Abu Samra, Qatar.
Thibaut Courtois of Belgium during a practice session at Salwa Training Area, Abu Samra, Qatar on November 22, 2022 [John Sibley/Reuters]

Going deeper:

  • See the full schedule of World Cup 2022 here and remember to visit Al Jazeera’s AI match prediction engine to see how your team is expected to perform in Qatar.



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