Following are the eight groups for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Qatar from Nov. 20-Dec. 18.
There will be a round-robin format in the group stage when each of the 32 teams play three matches. Teams will get three points for a win and one for a draw.
The top two in each group advance to the last 16.
The knockout rounds will feature one-off matches, which can go to extra time and then penalties to decide the winner.
The Dutch are favourites to advance from Group A as they chase a maiden World Cup title. Louis van Gaal’s side will be fired up after failing to qualify for the last edition in Russia four years ago.
The Netherlands will expect a strong challenge from Senegal but the Africa Cup of Nations champions are sweating on the fitness of their talismanic forward Sadio Mane, who sustained an injury playing for Bayern Munich.
England, the 2018 semi-finalists and last year’s European Championship runners-up, will be expected to come through the group but their recent poor form means they could face some tricky tests, especially against Wales and the United States.
Argentina will look to build on their Copa America triumph last year with World Cup success and all eyes will be on 35-year-old Lionel Messi in what is likely to be the Paris St Germain forward’s last chance to become a world champion.
Poland will need Robert Lewandowski to be in his usual scoring form take them into the knockout rounds, with Mexico likely to compete with them for second place in the group.
France have been hit hard by injuries heading into the tournament, with the likes of midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante missing out. Didier Deschamps’ side face a daunting task to emulate Italy and Brazil by winning back-to-back titles.
Denmark will also target a deep run having been boosted by the return of key midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has fully recovered from the heart attack he suffered during Euro 2020.
Australia may need some good fortune if they are to get out of the group after an underwhelming qualifying campaign.
Four-time winners Germany are looking to make amends after a shock first-round exit in 2018 but are in a difficult group, with 2010 champions Spain likely to provide their biggest test.
Spain have struggled in the last two editions after their golden generation won the country’s first World Cup but their young talented side are capable of taking the next step.
Belgium will be fancied to advance but a lot could depend on how fast injured striker Romelu Lukaku and playmaker Eden Hazard – who has struggled for regular playing time at Real Madrid this season – hit their stride in Qatar.
In-form Croatia are likely to join them at the expense of Canada and Morocco, with playmaker Luka Modric still as pivotal to the team as he was in their run to the final four years ago.
Brazil are the bookmakers’ favourites and the five-times champions will look to dominate the group having peaked at the right time in qualifying, with a new generation of players easing the burden on forward Neymar.
While Switzerland may not be genuine title contenders, they have proven to be dangerous opponents in the past and have the quality to make it out of the group.
Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo in the twilight of his brilliant career, are expected to get out of the group along with Uruguay but Ghana and South Korea can cause upsets.
(Compiled by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)