The first game for both sides in Group F. With Belgium heavy favorites (-400 with some books), do Canada have enough to stop them?
Group F in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup is one of the most exciting at the tournament. Belgium, one of the best teams in the competition, is a country with many talented individuals, but despite this, haven’t managed to fulfil their potential at recent World Cups and European Championships. Will this World Cup be the one where they finally reach the last two?
Arguably the second strongest team in the group is Croatia who are an ageing roster full of experienced players. Can Morocco who impressed in their qualifying group cause the two European teams trouble? Canadians will be relishing the chance to support their country in their first World Cup appearance in 36 years. With one of their best rosters in generations heading to the 2022 Qatar World Cup, could we see Canada cause a major upset in the group?
The Belgium national team before a game against USA. Pic: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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World Cup Group F fixtures
|World Cup Group F Fixtures
|Morocco vs Croatia
|November 23, 5am
|Al Bayt Stadium
|Belgium vs Canada
|November 23, 2pm
|Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
|Belgium vs Morocco
|November 27, 8am
|Al Thumama Stadium
|Croatia vs Canada
|November 27, 11am
|Khalifa International Stadium
|Croatia vs Belgium
|December 1, 10am
|Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
|Canada vs Morocco
|December 1, 10am
|Al Thumama Stadium
World Cup 2022 Group F predictions
Belgium will be many punters’ choice to win group F and it would be a massive shock to soccer fans if Roberto Martínez’s men do not make it to the knockout stages. Currently, sportsbooks have Belgium as seventh favorite to win the 2022 World Cup whilst FIFA has placed them second in their world rankings. This can provide us with some good value if Belgium can play their way to the latter stages of the tournament which they have struggled to do in recent tournaments. In the previous three international competitions, Belgium has been knocked out in the quarterfinals twice and semifinals. Kevin De Bruyne will be aiming to help his nation reach an international final before their golden generation loses their shine and we expect them to start strongly with big performances in Group F.
Kevin De Bruyne scores against Brazil. © PA Images/Sipa USA via USA TODAY Sports
Canada’s last outing in the World Cup was back at Mexico 1986. They were eliminated in the group stage and lost all three games, failing to score a single goal. Canada will be relying on young stars Alfonso Davies and Jonathon David to stop a repeat of those results, but their first two games are against the 2018 World Cup third placed finishers Belgium and runners-up Croatia. Unfortunately for Canada, their hopes of group qualification could be over before they face a less threatening opposition in Morocco.
World Cup 2022 Group F betting picks
Belgium to win Group F
Canada to finish bottom of Group F
Belgium World Cup 2022 overview
Roberto Martinez will lead Belgium into a major tournament for his third time. The Spaniard will be feeling the weight of a nation that know they have been underachieving in recent tournaments. Their route to Qatar was stress free with a group that saw Belgium go undefeated winning six games out of eight. They scored 25 goals and conceded six in a qualifying campaign that didn’t see them tested. This could be the reason for their recent struggles against tougher opponents in major tournaments.
Recently, Belgium has produced some of the best players in world soccer including De Bruyne, Lukaku and Hazard. Their main strengths can be seen in attack with plenty of fire power, vision and positioning meaning the Belgians can score a handful of goals on their day. They also have the ability to freshen up their team due to the depth and experience in their roster with players such as Christian Benteke and Nacer Chadli. In the last two major knockout tournaments, Belgium has played in, they have won all their group games scoring seven goals at Euro 2020 and an impressive nine goals at the 2018 World Cup.
Belgium picks and predictions
Belgium to win all their group games
Canada World Cup 2022 overview
The Canadian soccer players have made their country proud by qualifying for just their second World Cup tournament in the nation’s history. During the 2022 World Cup qualification process, Canada played against the top teams across North and Central America and secured first place in the group. The team has had a recent injection of talented youth into their side such as Bayern Munich’s well established pacey left back Alfonso Davies and clinical Lille striker Jonathon David proving to be valuable assets to the team. It was 27 year old Cyle Larin who proved his worth during the qualifiers with his 13 goals making him Canada’s all time top goalscorer. The Besiktas forward averaged a goal every 75 minutes and will have his eyes set on scoring Canada’s first ever World Cup goal.
Canada forward Cyle Larin (17) celebrates scoring a goal against Jamaica. © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, Group F has well proven defensive teams that will be hard to break down and with Belgium and Croatia being Canada’s first two games, their chances to reach the knockout stages are slim. Sportsbooks have them at +275 to qualify.
Read Canada's match-up previews here:
The first ever meeting between these two teams. The finalists in the 2018 World Cup will fancy their chances against a Canada side that doesn't have a World Cup goal to its name.
The two teams last met in a friendly six years ago when Morocco winning 4-0. The Canadians have improved significantly since then and will pose a much sterner test this time round.
Canada picks and predictions
Cyle Larin top team goalscorer
Canada under 2.5 team goals
Morocco World Cup 2022 overview
Morocco breezed through their qualification group in style with a 100% record. They won all six games scoring 20 goals in the process whilst keeping five clean sheets and conceding just once. They then entered a knockout round against DR Congo which took place over two legs. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw however the reverse fixture saw Morocco thump DR Congo 4-1 to book their ticket to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
This will be Morocco’s sixth outing on the biggest stage in world soccer. Their best finish in the tournament was back in 1986 when they lost in the Round of 16 to Germany. Their most recent experience in the World Cup was in 2018 when they were eliminated in the group stage after being dealt a tricky group against Spain and Portugal. This winter may see a similar fate as in 2018 as Morocco are placed in a unfavorable group. Morocco are a side that can trouble teams and score goals on their day (as seen in six of their qualifiers where they scored at least three goals) but we don’t see them having enough quality to beat the likes of Belgium and Croatia.
Morocco picks and predictions
Morocco not to qualify for the knockout stage
Morocco to score over 2.5 team goals
Croatia World Cup 2022 overview
Croatia topped a close World Cup qualification group which had some tricky teams such as Russia and Slovakia. Zlatko Dalić’s side started their route to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a loss to Slovenia. This defeat then kickstarted their campaign which saw Croatia go unbeaten for the rest of qualifying, scoring 21 times and conceding just three goals. The side’s top goal scorer in qualifying was shared between three players who each netted just three times which could be a worrying sign. Ivan Perisic was one of those three and has had success in front of goal in recent tournaments.
Luka Modric (10) dribbles the ball against Atletico de Madrid midfielder Koke (6). © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Croatia surprised everyone when they reached the 2018 World Cup final, eventually being outclassed by an exciting young French side who won 4-2. This achievement was the furthest Croatia has gone in the World Cup since their first appearance in 1998 when they came third. The Croatians won all three group games before grinding out three draws in the knockout stages, winning two matches through penalty shootouts and the semifinal through an extra time goal by Mario Mandžukić. These results show the amount of experience in the side meaning they are capable of frustrating teams by keeping it tight and slowing down their play style.
In Qatar, Croatia should have enough recent tournament experience to qualify for the knockout stages with only Belgium being their main rival in the Group F. However, without a main goal threat we can’t see them going into the latter stages of the World Cup.
Croatia picks and predictions
Croatia Perisic top team goalscorer
Croatia to qualify from Group F
World Cup 2022 Group F scenarios
In the World Cup, the top two sides in each group qualify for the knockout stages with the first placed side playing the runners up of the group they are paired with. In the 2022 Qatar World Cup, the first placed nation in Group F will play the runner up in Group E .
That group consists of four time World Cup winners Germany, Spain, who lifted the trophy once in 2010, Costa Rica and Japan. Our World Cup Group F predictions place Belgium first and Croatia second whilst in Group E sportsbooks have Spain more likely to top their group and Germany to be runners up. This would result in two Round of 16 knockout games between Spain v Croatia and Belgium v Germany.
Croatia has an ageing squad with plenty of tournament experience. The top 10 Croatians who played the most minutes during the 2022 World Cup qualifying had an average age of 29. Luka Modric will most likely head to his final World Cup. The 36 year old who enjoyed a fantastic 2021/22 season will lead Croatia again in Qatar should he remain fit.
Roberto Martinez will have a tricky time choosing his offensive players for the Qatar World Cup with Belgium possessing a plethora of quality attackers. If Real Madrid star Eden Hazard can recover his past form, he will certainly get a call up. However if he remains injury hit, Martinez may prefer to give a young player the chance to shine.
John Herdman will be relying on his key players Alfonso Davies, Cyle Larin and Jonathon David to perform at the World Cup. In what will be Canada’s first World Cup since 1986 and just their second ever, Bayern Munich star Davies will need to lend his high level experience to his national colleagues who for most will not have played at this level before.
PSG defender Achraf Hakimi will be Morocco’s star name in the squad after winning cups with Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund. Whilst silverware is unlikely for Morocco, Hakimi will have learnt a lot from his time at Europe’s best sides. The team’s goals will come from Ayoub El Kaabi.
World Cup 2022 Group F players to watch
While Romelu Lukaku has not had the return to Chelsea that many were anticipating, when he puts on a Belgium jersey the goals start flooding in. The striker has a great goal scoring record for his national team in major international tournaments. He netted four times at Euro 2020 as well as the same number in the previous World Cup in Russia. His goals have been vital in progressing Belgium through the latter stages of the tournament. He scored five goals in qualifying and we can see the nation’s all-time top goal scorer bagging a handful of goals in Qatar.
Croatia has produced extremely entertaining matches at major international tournaments in recent years, with high scoring, end-to-end goals. In the 2018 World Cup, both teams scored in five out of Croatia’s seven matches. This allows playmakers such as Luka Modric to shine as he did in the last tournament where he won the Golden Ball. This season has seen the Croatian midfielder help Real Madrid win LaLiga and the Champions League contributing 14 goal involvements in both competitions and we can see Modric having more success in Qatar with Croatia.
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Image credits: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports, © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports, © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports