The countdown to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar has begun. This year's edition will be the first tournament hosted in the Middle East and the first to be held at the end of the calendar year, in November and December.
Eight stadiums will host the event across five cities in Qatar: Lusall, Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Al Wakrah, and Doha.
The World Cup knockout stage is predetermined, with slots already assigned to the top two teams that will qualify from each group.
Two initial slots were also reserved in Group D and Group E for the winner of the two intercontinental playoffs. Australia claimed the first ticket with a victory on penalties over Peru. Costa Rica beat New Zealand by a 1-0 scoreline in the other intercontinental playoff to claim the 32nd and final slot at Qatar 2022.
How many teams are in the World Cup?
The 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar will feature 32 teams before the field expands to 48 teams for the 2026 World Cup. The FIFA men's World Cup has featured 32 teams for the last six editions, since France 1998.
Joining host nation Qatar at the tournament will be 31 other countries that have earned a ticket through regional qualifying matches. It was predetermined how many nations qualified from each region:
Africa (CAF): 5
Asia (AFC): 4 (plus 1 playoff qualifier)
Europe (UEFA): 13
North/Central America & Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 (plus 1 playoff qualifier)
Oceania (OFC): 1 playoff qualifier
South America (CONMEBOL): 4 (plus 1 playoff qualifier)
The four playoff qualifiers in the list above participated in two intercontinental playoff matches played in June 2022, featuring one nation from each of the four different regions. Those matchups determined the final two qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup: Asia vs. South America, and North America vs. Oceania.
Asia vs. South America: Australia (3rd in the Asian qualifying group) beat Peru (5th in South America) in a penalty shootout on June 13 to claim a place in Qatar. The Socceroos, into their fifth straight World Cup, defeated the United Arab Emirates 2-1 in an Asian confederation playoff just to earn the chance to face Peru.
North America vs. Oceania: Costa Rica (4th place in North America) advanced to the World Cup after beating New Zealand (Oceania winner) 1-0 on June 14 for the final ticket to Qatar. The Ticos will join Germany, Spain, and Japan in Group E.
The final European World Cup berth was also determined in June. Wales beat Ukraine 1-0 in a single-elimination playoff final on June 5. (Wales and Ukraine defeated Austria and Scotland, respectively, to reach the final.) The final European qualifying spot was pushed to the June window after Ukraine requested the postponement from the original March date due to the Russian invasion.
WORLD CUP DRAW BREAKDOWNS:
When does the World Cup start?
Group matches: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022
World Cup final: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off on a Sunday — a day earlier than originally scheduled — with hosts Qatar facing Ecuador in the opening Group A match at the Al Bayt Stadium.
The World Cup final will also be held on a Sunday, as per tradition. The trophy will be hoisted by the winner on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.
Which teams have qualified for the World Cup?
All 32 teams have officially qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including the host nation. The final two spots were filled by the intercontinental playoff winners on June 13 and June 14.
In addition to host nation Qatar, there have been 13 nations from Europe qualified for the tournament, four from South America, four from Asia, five from Africa, four from North America, and Australia, which is a member of the Asian confederation.
World Cup Group Draw These were the results of the group-stage draw, conducted in Doha, Qatar on April 1.
On March 31 FIFA released their updated FIFA World Rankings, which were used to sort the teams into separate pots ahead of the draw held on April 1. Each 2022 World Cup group consists of one team from each of the four pots below.
The top eight teams in the World Rankings (as of March 31) went into Pot 1, the next best eight teams into Pot 2, and so on. Pot 4 also contained the three placeholders for the spots yet to be claimed. This process helped ensure there is a competitive balance across the groups.
(FIFA World Ranking on March 31, 2022, added in parentheses below. *Qatar was included in Pot 1 as the host nation, which is a FIFA tradition at World Cup events.)
WORLD CUP 2022: PLAYERS TO WATCH
Following decisive playoff games in Africa and Europe earlier this week, we also know which of the biggest stars, barring injury, will headline the tournament when it kicks off this fall. Here are 11 players poised to either break out or cement their legacies on the global stage.
The most complete striker in CONCACAF helped Lille stun star-studded Paris Saint-Germain to win the French title last season. Since then, his goals and relentless attacking game boosted Canada to their first World Cup appearance since 1986, with David and the Reds capable of making noise in Qatar.
As FIFA’s top-ranked team, the Red Devils are one of the tournament favorites, and De Bruyne is their best player. The Manchester City midfielder has been to two previous World Cups, including in 2018, when Belgium reached the semis. He’s good enough to lead his country all the way this time.
If El Tri are to progress to the knockout stage of the World Cup for an eighth consecutive time, their most consistent goal scorer will help get them there. Mexico are lucky to have Jimenez at all after he suffered a potentially career-ending broken skull in 2020.
The most dangerous target striker on the planet — in January, Lewandowski was named FIFA’s best player for 2021 — lived up to that title in March, when he scored the goal that ultimately sent Poland to Qatar with a win over Sweden in Europe’s playoffs.
After his successful penalty kick in a shootout won the African Cup of Nations for his country over Egypt in February, Mane repeated the feat in March — again against the Pharaohs and Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah — to send Senegal to the World Cup for the third time and second in a row.
Mbappe notched four goals four years ago in Russia and became the only teenager besides Pelé to score in a World Cup final. After Les Bleus hoisted the trophy, Mbappe was named the best young player at the 2018 World Cup. What will he do for an encore in Qatar?
Messi will be 35 by the time Qatar 2022 kicks off, making it likely that it will be the GOAT’s last dance on the grandest stage — and his final chance to lead Argentina to their first World Cup title since Diego Maradona captained the Albiceleste to glory in 1986.
It has been 20 years since Brazil won the World Cup. But with Neymar now squarely in the prime of his career (and blue-chip understudies such as 21-year-old Vinicius Junior emerging), the record five-time champs could add a sixth star in No. 10’s third trip to the tournament.
Captain America is one of the few remaining holdovers from the U.S. team that — through no fault of Pulisic’s — failed to qualify four years ago. Now Pulisic is the face of a new generation of bona fide USMNT stars determined to make their names on the global stage.
Considering Ronaldo's age, this will surely be the fifth and final World Cup for the all-time top scoring man in international soccer. CR7 and Portugal were lucky to make it at all, avoiding Italy in March’s playoff and easily beating North Macedonia to qualify — with Ronaldo assisting on the berth-clinching goal.
While injury prevented Son from playing in the Taegeuk Warriors’ World Cup berth-clinching win over Syria in February, make no mistake: The Tottenham Hotspur standout will be the attacking focal point for a South Korean side making their 10th straight tournament appearance.
Who are the favorites to win the World Cup 2022?
Brazil may not have savoured World Cup glory since 2002, but they are five-time winners and currently boast the strength in depth - with the likes of Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Alisson at their disposal - to make them 9/2 (5.50) favourites in Qatar.
Holders France are another of those that are well fancied to mount a serious challenge for the ultimate prize,with a star-studded squad that includes Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba knowing what it takes to emerge victorious, and Didier Deschamps' side are available at 11/2 (6.50).
England made their way to the semi-finals in 2018, before reaching a final on home soil at Euro 2020, and the Three Lions are also 11/2 (6.50) to bring a 56-year wait for international success to a close.
Just behind them at 8/1 (9.00) are 2010 winners Spain, who have an exciting young squad at their disposal.
just ahead of perennial challengers Germany at 11/1 (12.00).
Who are the contenders to win the world cup 2022?
Belgium, who have slipped from the top of the FIFA world rankings, may feel that 2022 presents their golden generation with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard still going strong – with a last shot at international honours, but they are priced at 12/1 (13.00).
Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal - who came through the play-offs - are another of those available at 12/1 (13.00),alongside a Netherlands team that are bursting with potential.
Denmark,who have welcomed back Christian back into their ranks following his cardiac arrest at euro 2020,are considered to be 28/1 (29.00) shots for what would be a stunning and very emotional triumph.
Who are the outsiders to win the world cup 2022?
Croatia reached the final in 2018,as Luka Modric closed in on Ballon d’or glory but are 50/1 (51.00) to go one better four years on.
Uruguay- who still have vast experience and considerable goal threat of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in their ranks-
Are also availble at 50/1,with Switerzland and reigning Africa Cup of Nations Champions Senegal priced 80/1
The United states with youthful eperience on their side not expected to figure in the final shake-up as they sit at 100/1,With a Poland led by the most dangerous striker on the planet Robert Lewandowski priced at 125/1
There are a number of teams at 150/1 including Mexico and Canada, While host's Qatar have drifted out to 350/1 as they become serious long shots on home soil.