The FIFA 2022 Men’s World Cup is upon us. Follow along the day-by-day action in each day’s game thread — even when Germany aren’t playing.
- Group A: Ecuador vs Senegal | 10AM EST
- Group A: Netherlands vs Qatar | 10AM EST
- Group B: Iran vs USA | 2PM EST
- Group B: Wales vs England | 2PM EST
It’s qualification day for the first two groups. Qatar are the only team among the eight who are already eliminated; everybody else have all to play for.
In Group A the intriguing match will be between a very strong Ecuador side and a Sadio Mané-less Senegal. Even without the Bayern Munich star, the Senegalese pose a potent challenge. Chances are slim that both these teams will be able to make it out of the group, which is a pity.
England are favorites to lock up Group B — or are they? Don’t count out Wales, where LAFC’s Gareth Bale always has some magic up his sleeve and the rivalry should make things extra unpredictable.
Many eyes will be locked in on USA vs Iran. Is Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT for real? They certainly impressed against the Three Lions, but Iran are no pushovers, either. It’s a matchup roiling in off-field controversy as well — from US Soccer’s numb-skulled decision to alter the Iranian flag by way of protest to Iran’s ongoing domestic unrest over women’s rights.
That should serve as a sobering reminder that whatever the stakes on the field, it’s hard to separate from the far more important realities of people’s lives off it. Iran’s soccer team entered the tournament with a — for lack of better insight on our part — tense relationship with its domestic fans. After protesting their national anthem in the first game, it’s been reported that players and their families have been threatened into compliance.
Bayern Munich alumni Ali Daei and Ali Karimi have been among those arrested after expressing support for the protests, which had been ignited by the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman following her arrest.
At the end of the day, some teams will qualify and some teams won’t. For at least some of the participants, however, the circumstances outside the sporting realm will be far greater.
If you’d like to check back on our pre-tournament predictions and have a laugh about how badly we got it wrong, we’ve got you covered:
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Interested in more World Cup talk? Hop over to our weekend warm-up podcast! This week we ponder Bayern prospect Paul Wanner’s Austria courtship, next steps for Benji Pavard, and what to expect from Germany at the tournament.
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