Two years from today, we will officially be finished with the Round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. While we don’t know which Bayern Munich players will be selected for their respective national teams, we can find out who they will be playing in order to qualify for the tournament.
Today, UEFA and FIFA drew the groups for the qualifying groups for the 22nd edition of the World Cup. We will take a look at each of the groups that have the nations of respective Bayern players in them and assess their chances to make it out.
For reference, UEFA qualifying dictates that the winners of each group will advance to the World Cup. In addition, the runners up in each group will join the two best teams in Nations League rankings who did the best in their groups but outside the top two spots. The 12 teams are drawn into three playoff paths with two rounds of single elimination playoffs with the winners of each of those paths qualifying.
Here are the groups:
Group A: Portugal / Serbia / Ireland / Luxembourg / Azerbaijan
a.k.a. The Group of Recurring Plot Lines
While Bayern Munich’s Tiago Dantas might be a long shot for making the roster, Portugal seem well set up for this group. They face tough teams in Serbia and Ireland, who will no doubt be battling for that second spot. Once again, Serbia will have to face a team from the British Isles after being knocked out of the Euros by Scotland last month. I’m going to go with my gut and say it won’t happen again
Prediction: 1) Portugal 2) Serbia
Group B: Spain / Sweden / Greece / Georgia / Kosovo
a.k.a. The Basic Man’s Group of Death
I feel that Spain will come out of this group easily. Javi Martinez won’t be there, but Marc Roca might be. Plus, our dearly beloved Thiago Alcantara should still have more to prove. Sweden will be a fun team to watch and I feel with Bundesliga talents like Emil Forsberg and Ludwig Augustinsson, they will be able to advance over a Greek team that seems tough, but have chronically underperformed the last three qualifying rounds for major tournaments.
Prediction: 1) Spain 2) Sweden
Group C: Italy / Switzerland / Northern Ireland / Bulgaria / Lithuania
a.k.a. The Group to Take a Nap In
I can’t see any of the bottom three teams making a difference against Switzerland, who’ve made the knockout stage of three out of the last four World Cups, and an Italian team out for revenge after not appearing in the 2018 World Cup.
Prediction: 1) Italy 2) Switzerland
Group D: France / Ukraine / Finland / Bosnia and Herzegovina / Kazakhstan
a.k.a Who’s Joining France?
Because let’s be honest: with the great team France have (including six Bayern players, three of whom played in the World Cup final) they’re set to go in. But after that, who knows? Ukraine topped a Euro qualifying group featuring Serbia and Portugal. Finland might carry momentum from qualifying for their first ever major tournament in the 2021 Euros. B&H made the more recent World Cup out of the bottom four teams. Plus, Kazakhstan are a sneaky good team. It’s hard to predict. I personally think it’s going to come down to Bosnia and Ukraine for this one and with momentum (for now) on the side of The Yellow and Blue, I’ll go Ukraine, but don’t be shocked if I’m wrong.
Prediction: 1) France 2) Ukraine
Group E: Belgium / Wales / Czech Republic / Belarus / Estonia
a.k.a. I’ve Got Nothing for This One
There are no recurring plot lines, no rivalries outside of Belarus v. Estonia, no major backstories to any of the teams. It just seems like an easy, cut and dried group. I expect the Czechs to challenge, but if Wales can keep their momentum from this upcoming Euros going, they’ll be in.
Prediction: 1) Belgium 2) Wales
Group F: Denmark / Austria / Scotland / Israel / Faroe Islands / Moldova
a.k.a. The Real Group of Death
Let’s think about this one for a second. Denmark made the Round of 16 in the last World Cup after failing to qualify for the 2016 Euros. Austria have yet to qualify for a World Cup since 1998, but they’ve made three out of the last four Euros, including this coming one. Scotland just qualified for their first major tournament since 1998 via a playoff. Israel gave Scotland a run for their money in those playoffs and seem to be on the rise. I feel like I can give it to Denmark but outside of them, it’s a total crapshoot. I’d like to trust in David Alaba and Austria, but there’s something about that Scotland team that makes me want to pick them. Maybe I’m being optimistic.
Prediction: 1) Denmark 2) Scotland
Group G: Netherlands / Turkey / Norway / Montenegro / Latvia / Gibraltar
a.k.a The Group Where Teams Overcome Their Demons
After making six of the previous seven World Cups and finishing in the top 4 in three of them, The Netherlands didn’t make an appearance in the 2018 World Cup. Neither did Turkey, who had been on the decline since finishing third in South Korea/Japan in 2002. Recently, Norway had a resurgence on their hands with Erling Haaland, but his team failed to qualify for the Euros in the playoffs. I feel like the Dutch will win, but it will be time for Norway as well. I’m betting that come 2022, Haaland will be a strong enough presence up front to pull his team into the tournament.
Prediction: 1) Netherlands 2) Norway
Group H: Croatia / Slovakia / Russia / Slovenia / Cyprus / Malta
a.k.a The Fun Group a.k.a The Most Slavic Group of All Time
Oh my lord I have ancestors in three of these teams that want me to pick them. If it weren’t for their aging core, I feel that I could confidently say Croatia in this one. But, Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic aren’t getting any younger. They may find themselves outmatched and outpaced against these younger teams in Russia and Slovenia. I feel this is a good place to put in my upset picks.
Prediction: 1) Russia 2) Slovakia
Group I: England / Poland / Hungary / Albania / Andorra / San Marino
a.k.a Lewy In London
While either top team might have a hard time with the Magyars, I don’t know if Hungary will be fully developed enough to make it. But, then again, why should I trust Poland after the goose egg Robert Lewandowski laid in the 2018 World Cup? The entire team from that tournament looked poor and I don’t think they have enough in them to keep it up. I trust Lewy, but beyond that, I don’t see Poland doing well in this group. Therefore, I’m going with the younger, more powerful Hungary. However, either team’s performance in the Euros could change that in a heartbeat.
Prediction: 1) England 2) Hungary
Group J: Germany / Romania / Iceland / North Macedonia / Armenia / Lichtenstein
a.k.a The Cakewalk Group
Germany is in a lot of trouble. But by the time qualifying rolls around, they should have a new manager and a new modus operandi and will recover enough to make it to the tournament. It will be fun playing against the same Iceland team they could have played in the Group Stage of Euro 2021. I don’t know if Romania will be able to keep up with either the Vikings or Die Mannschaft, so I’m confident in these picks.
Prediction: 1) Germany 2) Iceland
Let us know what you think in the comments!