Final qualifiers are still wrapping up, leaving a few spots left in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but that’s not stopping the ball rolling on the tournament. Friday marks the announcement of the draw for group stages, with 32 teams, including host nation Qatar, all finding out their fates.
It’s an extremely unusual World Cup that won’t kick off until November 21 due to concerns about heat in the Persian Gulf, which routinely tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and would be hazardous for players. As a result 2022, will mark the first World Cup to be held outside of May-July, as has been the tradition since 1930.
The complete 2022 World Cup draw
- IR Iran
- Saudi Arabia
- Costa Rica/New Zealand
- Korea Republic
Who has qualified so far?
Here is the full least of teams in so far, divided by their region.
- Three teams still competing between Wales, Scotland and Ukraine
- Peru is still competing, and will play the winner of Australia vs. United Arab Emirates for a spot.
- Costa Rica is still competing, and will play New Zealand for a spot.
- IR Iran
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Australia and the United Arab Emirates are still competing, with the winner playing Peru for a spot.
- New Zealand won oceania, but that does not guarantee a spot in the World Cup. They will play Costa Rica to determine who is in.
How were the groups decided?
Teams were arranged into four pots, and then selected by random draw. The pot system was largely designed so no two teams in the same pot can be paired in the group stage — offering some limited control over the parity of the World Cup.
Here are the pots for tomorrow's World Cup draw pic.twitter.com/eAP2pArR1n— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 31, 2022
What about the “Group of Death”?
While the pot draw system offers limited control, there’s typically one group that randomly becomes the most brutal. The term originated during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico as a way to refer to the horrific Group C, which saw Brazil, England, Romania and Czechoslovakia put together. Brazil would go on to win the World Cup.
There’s a lot of debate on whether there is a true “group of death” in 2022, but for my money it’s Group E. You have No. 7 ranked Spain, No. 12 ranked Germany, No. 23 ranked Japan, and if Costa Rica are in, the No. 31 as well.
What else do I need to know about this year’s field?
The biggest, and most obvious omission is Russia, who have been banned from the 2022 World Cup due to the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. That is the biggest headline incident for this field, but there are several other key teams who are missing out.
- Italy failed to qualify for the second straight World Cup.
- Sweden lost to Poland to be eliminated, despite being the No. 17 ranked team in the world.
- Colombia are ranked No. 19, but also failed to punch their ticket.
- Chile played Cinderellas in each of the last two World Cups, making it to the final 16 in back-to-back appearances, but did not qualify for Qatar.
- Nigeria failed to qualify for the first time since 2006.