World Cup 2022

World Cup 2022: 10 dates for your diary following today's group stage draw

The World Cup draw took place today in Qatar, meaning all 36 teams left in contention know their potential pathway to the final on 18 December.

Here are 10 group stage matches not to be missed.

Full World Cup draw

When are World Cup matches taking place?

Group stage: 21 November- 2 December.

Round of 16: 3-6 December.

Quarter-finals: 9 & 10 December.

Semi-finals: 13 & 14 December.

Third place play-off and Final: 17 & 18 December.

What time do group stage matches kick off?

Eastern Time: 5:00, 8:00, 11:00 & 14:00.

British Sumer Time: 10:00, 13:00, 16:00 & 19:00.

Local time in Qatar: 13:00, 16:00, 19:00, & 22:00.

Qatar vs Ecuador- 21 November 2022

Kick off times: 11:00 (ET) 16:00 (UK), 19:00 (local). Stadium: Al-Bayt Stadium

The World Cup's opening match sees hosts and reigning Asian champions Qatar face Ecuador.

The Maroons will be making their World Cup debut and are determined not to follow South Africa in 2010 as the only hosts to exit in the group phase.

Back in 2019, Qatar competed at the Copa América, but didn't win any of their three matches so that doesn't bode well for this clash.

Although, in 2018, they did welcome Ecuador to Doha for a friendly and won 4-3, so will be hoping for a repeat scoreline in a slightly more meaningful clash.

Given that African champions Senegal and European heavyweights Netherlands complete Group A, this is a must win for both if either have any hopes of advancing.

Centre-forward Almoez Ali will see this as his first opportunity to score at a record-breaking fifth different major international tournament.

He's already netted at the Asia Cup, Copa América, CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA Arab Cup. so will be hoping to add the biggest tournament of all to that list.

Spain vs Germany- 27 November

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Al-Bayt Stadium.

Without doubt, the heavyweight clash of the group stage is Spain vs Germany, the only group game featuring two former world champions.

Spain won this trophy in 2010 while Germany are four-times World Cup winners, doing so in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.

However, last time round, the reigning champions crashed out in the group phase while Spain were eliminated by Russia in the round of 16.

Now, die Mannschaft look the real deal under Hansi Flick, winning eight of nine games under him, drawing the other, scoring 34 goals.

Luis Enrique's side, unexpectedly, reached the semi-finals of the Euro and the Nations League Final last year, losing to Italy and France respectively.

These two teams last met at a major tournament in Durban 12 years ago when Carles Puyol's towering header took Spain to their first-ever World Cup Final.

More recently, in November 2020 to be precise, they met in the UEFA Nations League with Spain running riot, winning 6-0 in Sevilla.

That was Germany's biggest defeat since 1931 but, two years on, they might come into this clash as favourites.

England vs UEFA play-off winner- 29 November

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Of course, one of the two teams in this particular fixture are unknown, but it's still a mouthwatering prospect.

The UEFA play-off in June will see Wales host either Scotland or Ukraine so, in theory, this game is 75% likely to be a British derby.

England and Scotland met last summer at Euro 2020, a goalless draw at Wembley, the old enemies' first tournament meeting since Euro '96.

Wales last faced their neighbours in a competitive fixtures at Euro 2016 with the Three Lions snatching a stoppage time victory in Lens.

Any Welsh supporter would swiftly add that they got the last laugh as their side reached the semi-finals while England were beaten by Iceland in the last 16.

Of course, at this moment in time, Ukraine can't be discounted, despite the awful situation all Ukrainian people are enduring just now.

From a football perspective, for what it's worth, the Blue and Yellows also played England just last summer, getting swatted aside 4-0 in the quarter-final.

But, with an all-British fixture a probability, this'll be a game that grips the U.K. if indeed it is Wales or Scotland who make it through.

Portugal vs Uruguay- 28 November

Cavani & Ronaldo

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Without wanting to disrespect Korea Republic or Ghana, the big two in Group H will meet in the second game.

Cristiano Ronaldo has already won the Nations League and European Championships with Portugal, scoring a world-record 115 international goals.

However, the World Cup hasn't been kind to him with Portugal getting no further than the round of 16 since a last four appearance in 2006.

Of course, the side who eliminated them at that juncture four years ago was Uruguay, winning 2-1 in Sochi.

In Qatar, Ronaldo will appear at a fifth World Cup, something only achieved by Lothar Matthäus, Antonio Carbajal and Rafael Márquez to date.

When these two met in Russia, Edinson Cavani's brace did the damage and he's one of many Uruguayan players aged 35+.

The others are Fernando Muslera, Diego Godín and Luis Suárez, all of whom helped la Celeste to a World Cup semi-final 12 years ago.

Portugal and Uruguay scrapped through qualify, so this'll be an early test of both's credentials.

Senegal vs Netherlands- 21 November

Kick off times: 5:00 (ET) 10:00 (UK), 13:00 (local). Stadium: Al-Thumama Stadium.

Group A's two big hitters will go head-to-head on the opening day of the tournament in, what will be, a first-ever senior meeting between these two.

Senegal will travel to Qatar as reigning continental champions having beaten Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations Final as recently as February.

Les Lions de la Téranga boast a very impressive record against European sides at World Cups, winning three of five meetings.

This includes in 2002 when they overcame defending champions France in the opening game, ousted Sweden in the last 16 before exiting to Turkey via golden goal.

Four years ago, Senegal beat Poland but were eliminated by Japan because they'd accumulated more yellow cards, the seventh tiebreaker.

Netherlands meanwhile are back at the World Cup after missing 2018.

But, before that, they reached the final in 2010 and the semi-finals in 2014, the latter under Louis van Gaal who is back in charge for a third stint.

With hosts Qatar and Ecuador completing Group A, these two are big favourites to reach the round of 16, making this an interesting match-up.

Belgium vs Canada- 23 November

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Of the 28 nations who've qualified for the World Cup to date, excluding hosts Qatar, 27 of them were at the 2014 and/or 2018 editions.

So, the only new team are Canada having qualified for just the second time, 36 years after making their debut at Mexico '86.

Back then, a group of amateurs faced France, Hungary and the Soviet Union, losing all three games and not scoring a single goal.

They may not have the pedigree, but the Canucks certainly boast quality, highlighted by the fact they topped the CONCACAF qualifying table.

Qualifying was a vital achievement for the Reds who will co-host the 2026 edition, so this year in Qatar will help them be as strong as possible in four year.

There's a lot of hype and excitement in Canada right now but their hopes and dreams might come crashing back down to earth in this opener.

Belgium were FIFA's world-ranked number one team for almost four years before finally relinquishing top spot to Brazil in March 2022.

Roberto Martínez's team reached the semi-finals in Russia four years but are determined to appear in Belgium's first final since Euro 1980.

The Red Devils have won 43 of their last 52 competitive games, losing just six, scoring 161 goals in the process.

So, of course, Canada are big underdogs but it'll still be a huge occasion for them to return to the world stage against one of the world's best.

Brazil vs Serbia- 24 November

Philippe Coutinho Brazil World Cup

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Everyone looks forward to seeing Brazil play at a World Cup but their group is very much a case of we'll meet again.

Seleção's group in Qatar, as was the case four years ago, contains Serbia and Switzerland.

The fourth team is a new one, namely Cameroon, but they were demolished 4-1 in Brasília by the hosts eight years ago.

Tite's side will begin their campaign against Serbia; goals from Paulinho and Thiago Silva saw them to a 2-0 victory over the Eagles in Moscow.

Brazil are the current favourites to win the World Cup having accumulated 45 points, of a possible 51, in qualifying which is a new CONMEBOL record.

Overall, Tite's side have only lost one of their last 30 competitive games, that defeat coming in the Copa América Final last year to Argentina.

But, since crashing out to Belgium in Kazan, they've only faced European opposition once, beating Czech Republic 3-1 in a friendly in Prague in March 2019.

This'll change with Brazil's first two matches against Serbia and then Switzerland, so that'll be a real test of their credentials.

Don't discard Dragan Stojković's team though after they finished above Portugal in qualifying thanks to a last-gasp victory in Lisbon last November.

This'll certainly be one of the highest-quality group games.

Croatia vs Belgium- 1 December

Kick off times: 10:00 (ET) 15:00 (UK), 18:00 (local). Stadium: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Croatia and Belgium have met six times before in qualification campaigns, most recently in 2013, but this'll be their first-ever tournament meeting.

Four years ago, Croatia became the 13th different nation to reach a World Cup Final, beating Argentina, Nigeria, Denmark, Russia and England en route.

Key players, namely Mario Mandžukić, retired after that run but captain Luka Modrić, who'll be 37 by November, is still going strong.

Whilst no one expects Zlatko Dalić's side reach the final again, the Blazers are not easy to beat.

Since 2017, Croatia have only lost to Spain, England, Slovenia, France, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary in competitive internationals.

Unlike their opponents in this third group game, Belgium have not reached any major final for 42 years.

Their golden generation emerged around a decade ago and, since, have reached a World Cup quarter-final and a semi-final

Similarly to Croatia, lots of the Red Devils' stars are in the 30s, meaning this could be their last shot at a major tournament.

Both will have already faced Canada and Morocco at this point, both of whom will be tricky opponents.

So, if either need something from this final game, it could be a cracker.

United States vs England- 25 November

Christian Pulisic

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Al-Bayt Stadium.

After missing out on 2018 in catastrophic circumstances, the United States are back at the World Cup.

The Stars and Stripes' tournament opener will be against the UEFA play-of winner, either Wales, Ukraine or Scotland, in a pretty even match-up.

But, the fixture that's caught the eye for all U.S. supporters is their second game against England.

Of course they want to do well, but this tournament for Gregg Berhalter's team is all about gaining experience and building towards 2026 on home soil.

Of all 36 teams still in contention to qualify, USA used the youngest XI in qualification and certainly boast the talent to cause England problems.

These two have met twice at World Cups before with the U.S. winning 1-0 in 1950 before a 1-1 draw in Rustenburg 12 years ago.

More recently, they met in a friendly at Wembley with England cruising to a 3-0 victory in 2018.

This game takes place the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, which is a public holiday in America so the game could bring in record-breaking viewing figures States-side.

Argentina vs Poland- 30 November

Lionel Messi

Kick off times: 14:00 (ET) 19:00 (UK), 22:00 (local). Stadium: Stadium 974.

Could this finally be Argentina's time?

La Albiceleste are two-time champions of the world, going all the way in 1978 and 1986, subsequently losing in the finals of Italia '90 and Brazil 2014.

Four years ago, Argentina were a complete shambles, just about getting out their group before a thrilling 4-3 defeat to France.

But, right now, Lionel Scaloni's side are united, well-coached, cohesive and rightly full of belief.

Last summer, Argentina ended their 28-year trophy draught by beating Brazil in the Copa América Final, at the Maracanã no less.

Before this, they'd lost in four Copa Finals, a Confederations Cup Final and a World Cup Final since last lifting silverware in 1993.

Overall, they're unbeaten in 25 competitive matches and will get the chance to win more silverware against Italy in June in the Finalísima.

The big story last year was that Lionel Messi had finally got his hands on some international silverware, but this could be his last shot at the biggest prize of all.

The South American champions kick off against Saudi Arabia, one of the weakest finalists, before facing Mexico.

So, their toughest test in Group C will come in the final game.

Poland reached the semi-finals in 1974 and 1982 but, more recently, have gone out in the group stages of all three World Cups they've appeared at this century.

The Eagles have also fallen at the first hurdle at three of the last four European Championships, including last year's edition.

But, any team containing Robert Lewandowski will be a test for Argentina's improving but not yet flawless back-line.

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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