It is official: The Canadian men’s national team will play Belgium, Croatia and Morocco in Group F of the 2022 World Cup.
Canada not only avoided the dreaded “Group of Death” known as Group E, it was able to secure a balanced group that enabled Canadians to advance to their first knockout stage of the World Cup.
Now the team has about seven months to prepare for the tournament. The CONCACAF Nations League starts in June, this Monday the draw will be held, to allow it Red There are some competitive games until the World Cup.
Canada coach John Hardman has revealed that there is a “small window” for a friendly at home ahead of the League of Nations. It remains to be seen which team is willing to travel for that date.
“It will probably line up for us to go to Europe in the fall,” Hardman said after Friday’s World Cup draw. “I think it’s an important step for this team. We’ve had to play against the CONCACAF opponent for the last four years for this eternal World Cup qualifying scheme, the 20-odd game, which has starved us of the opportunity to play against. Help make that layer look and feel like it. “
Since Canada is facing European and African teams, the argument is that the federation will schedule friendship against countries in that region.
Although it is not as easy as making a sports decision.
“I think there are business opportunities here, there are some things that we need to think about that will help our sports grassroots, our sports coaching education,” Hardman said. “It’s an opportunity, it’s more than just playing in a World Cup, it’s something that can enhance the game in this country.”
For Canada’s opponents in the World Cup, there is a deep rift between the three teams. Remember that the seven months of the World Cup, plus a transfer window and a new season starting this summer, will change a lot.
FIFA ranking: No. 2
World Cup chances to win: 13/1
How they qualified: Group E of the UEFA Qualifiers with 20 points.
Predicted starting XI (3-4-3): Thibaut Courtois; Timothy Castin, Jason Denier, Jan Vertonghen; Thomas Munier, Axel Witsell, Yuri Tillemans, Yannick Carasco; Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne.
Attack. Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku may not be in top form at the moment, but they are usually great with the national team. Also, Kevin de Bruyne is always a threat, whether he’s in front of a double pivot or entering the half-spot he likes the most from the right.
However, Canada’s blueprint for denying the offensive rhythm could be found in Belgium’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals. When Ajjuri The goal crushed Belgium from the kick, with the Italian forwards identifying the defenders while the trio focused on the Belgian midfielders. Some of that buildup disrupted.
Obviously Canada can’t put pressure on Belgium for 90 minutes, so they will probably use other tactics for most of the game. Italy trailed 4-5-1, denying Pivot’s power and defending the Flanks against a fraudulent wingback.
It could be a strategy to silence Belgium, which would be easier said than done.
The defense may be paralyzed. Jason Denier and Timothy Casten appear to be locked in, but Jan Vertonghen is slowing down and coach Roberto Martinez has examined the left side of the back of the young Arthur Thiet and Cibe van der Hayden. However, there will be room for quick attack in Canada, especially with Belgium’s attacking-intelligent wingback.
Belgium reached the World Cup semifinals in 2018 and were on the verge of another semifinal at Euro last summer if not a relentless finish against Italy in the quarterfinals.
But it is not for the Red Devils now or ever. The Golden Generation is in its infancy, so failing to reach the final will be seen as a losing opportunity for this team.
FIFA ranking: No. 16
World Cup chances to win: 51/1
How they qualified: Group H won the UEFA Qualifiers with 23 points.
Predicted starting XI (3-5-2): Dominic Livakovich; Duje Caleta-Car, Someone, Josco Guardiol; Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mario Pasalik, Josip Juranovich; Nikola Vlasic, Andrzej Kramaric.
It’s midfield, hands down. Even at the age of 36, Luka Modric continues to excel on the big stage. He made a man-of-the-match performance for Real Madrid in 2022, although the question is whether he will retain it by November.
Then there is Marcelo Brozovic, arguably the most important player at Inter. The ability to drop in defense and orchestral games while contributing defensively makes him one of the top deep-lying midfielders in Europe.
Mario Pascal is the current starter, and although he is no slouch, the inclusion of Mateo Kovasic will transform into an already talented trio. Kovasic is all-action but great for dribbling or passing the ball into the box and a defensive stalwart for boot.
Even the defense, which was once seen as a weakness, has now improved with strong spots on the back line of the Duje Caleta-Carr and Josco Guardiol. It conceded a solid 0.66 expected goal (xG) every 90 minutes.
Forwards are not good. Whether it’s Andrej Kramaric, Nikola Vlasic or any other alternative, they will not be under too much threat.
Anyone who has seen Croatia’s thrilling Euro 2020 round-of-16 match against Spain might think otherwise. The extra time game ended 5-3.
Part of it was with the Croatian High Press Being so easy To bypass. The other was that Spain ignored the Franks whenever the Croatians pressured them. This led to a litany of opportunities, especially with the Spanish full-backs playing so high on the pitch and under the flank.
If Canada could be less generous under pressure and remain defensively compact, it would reduce Croatia’s high-risk potential.
Some quality youngsters are coming but for Perisic, Modric and possibly Brozovic – at least his prime – it will be Cane’s final kick.
It is not expected that Croatia will advance to another World Cup final, although a race to the quarter-finals is not out of the question, especially since that midfield holds the fort.
FIFA ranking: No. 24
World Cup chances to win: 248-1
How they qualified: CAF defeated DR Congo 5-2 in the third round of the qualifying round.
Predicted starting XI (4-3-3): Yasin Bauno; Achraf Hakimi, Romain Sais, Nayef Aguard, Adam Masina; Selim Amallah, Sofian Amarabat, Ayman Barcock; Munir El Haddadi, Youssef N-Nassir, Sophian Baufel.
Achraf Hakimi and Munir El Haddadi vs. Sam Adekugbe and Alfonso Davis appointments may be seen.
Morocco’s right-hand man and dynamic Munir have one of the best right-backs in the world, doing business with Sevilla. In the preliminary round of the qualifiers, coach Vahid Halliodzik switched to a 3-5-2 to highlight those strengths and that was where a significant part of his open-play attack was made.
Analyzing the pass map from these two legs, it is clear how active Hakimi (No. 2) has become in those games, even for its quality.
If the left wing of Canada is the main threat, then the right wing of the Atlas Lions will be equally dangerous.
Not too much weakness, though Morocco as the most complete team in this group can not hit the average fans.
Morocco averaged 2.14 xG and 0.52 xG last calendar year. These are horrific figures when considering the 1.57 xG and 0.86 xG Canada posted during the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
However, Sevilla’s two teammates Youssef N-Nesiri and Munir El Haddadi have lost their form. Munir has just played, while N-Nesiri has scored just three goals in 15 games in the 2020-21 season. Its underlying numbers are still strong, but production has not been there and now Anthony Marshall is starting ahead of N-Nesiri.
If that doesn’t change, Tariq Tisudali could be an option for Morocco in the World Cup.
Morocco were in the death group for the 2018 World Cup, along with Iran, Spain and Portugal. Reject what could be a tough run from the Atlas Lions.
Now they are in a more accessible group. For that reason, Morocco, like Canada, will be cautiously optimistic about going to the 16 rounds.