World Cup 2022 Schedule of Dates, Locations and Preview After the DrawApril 1, 2022
After qualifying for the 2022 World Cup mostly wrapped up earlier this week, the draw for this year's marquee event from Qatar was announced on Friday.
A total of 29 teams have already clinched a berth in this year's tournament. The final three teams will be determined in June from two inter-confederation playoffs and the UEFA Path A winner.
Because of the intense heat in Qatar during the summer months, the World Cup has been pushed back from its traditional June start date to November. It will also take place in a slightly compressed schedule of 28 days, instead of the usual 31 days.
Stadiums are getting high-tech cooling systems installed to help ensure players and fans are safe.
2022 World Cup Dates
Start Sate: Nov. 21
End Date: Dec. 18
2022 World Cup Venues (Host Nation: Qatar)
Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail, Qatar)
Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor, Qatar)
Stadium 974 (Ras Abu Aboud, Doha, Qatar)
Al Thumama Stadium (Al Thumama, Qatar)
Al Janoub Stadium (Al-Wakrah, Qatar)
Education City Stadium (Al Rayyan, Qatar)
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan, Qatar)
Khalifa International Stadium (Doha, Qatar)
2022 World Cup Draw
Group A: Qatar (host), Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B: England, Iran, United States, Scotland/Wales/Ukraine
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D: France, UAE/Australia/Peru, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E: Spain, Costa Rica/New Zealand, Germany, Japan
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
Brazil is the favorite to win the 2022 World Cup, coming in as a +500 favorite (bet $100 to win $500), per DraftKings Sportsbook, to secure a first World Cup title for 20 years. But there is a lot of competition on its heels for the championship.
The Selecao are the top team in the FIFA rankings, with a slim lead in points over Belgium (1,832.69 to 1,827), and finished top of the CONMEBOL qualifying standings with 45 points and a plus-35 goal differential in 17 matches.
Brazil has only lost twice in its last 27 matches dating back to 2019 (both losses were against Argentina, including the 2021 Copa America final).
France, the defending World Cup champions, had a rough go of things after its 2018 triumph in Moscow. It didn't advance past the group stage in the 2018-19 Nations League after a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands in November 2018.
Les Bleus were knocked out of the Euro 2021 in the round of 16 by Switzerland after giving up two goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation and losing 5-4 on penalty kicks.
Things have turned around of late for France, though. It won UEFA World Cup qualifying Group D in November with an unbeaten 5-3-0 record to earn a spot in this year's tournament.
As Henry Bushnell of Yahoo Sports noted, any concerns about what France did leading up to the World Cup really shouldn't impact its standing on the world's biggest stage.
"Les Bleus didn’t triumph in 2018 because they were a flawless, all-powerful force," Bushnell wrote. "They danced to the Champs-Elysees because they had transcendent individuals, who comprised the most talented roster in the world. And they still have that."
There might not be a team with more pressure on it in this World Cup than Argentina. The country's national side hasn't won this event since 1986.
Meanwhile, talisman Lionel Messi is going to turn 35 on June 24. He's still playing at a high level, but there have been indications lately that the decline phase of his career is starting to hit.
One reason for optimism heading into Qatar is Argentina's victory at Copa America last year. It defeated Brazil in the final to capture its first championship in that tournament since 1993.
Another squad under the microscope this year is Belgium. Head coach Roberto Martinez's team won UEFA Group E in the World Cup qualifiers with a 6-2-0 record, but they did lose back-to-back matches in October in UEFA Nations League competition to France and Belgium.
ESPN's Mark Ogden noted one reason Belgium might be feeling the heat this year is the age of several key players.
"Qatar is likely to be the final shot at glory for many of Roberto Martinez's squad," Ogden wrote. "Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are all in their 30s, with only midfielder Youri Tielemans (24) suggesting he is capable of emulating the greats of the country's golden generation."
Germany is also another team more than capable of leaving Qatar with a championship. It was the first team to qualify for the World Cup, not including the host nation, when it clinched first place in its qualifying group on Oct. 11.
Die Mannschaft won all seven of their qualifying matches after Hansi Flick was hired as manager last May. They outscored their opponents 31-2 during that span.
Team USA is back in the World Cup after missing out in 2018. The United States didn't have a great showing last time out with a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica in its final qualifying match on Wednesday, but it did go through the cycle with a 7-4-3 record and plus-11 goal differential.
"It's amazing what this group of guys have been able to do over these last seven months," head coach Gregg Berhalter told reporters after the Costa Rica match. "I've really seen the team grow, and this is a great accomplishment. We are looking forward to the World Cup."
Expectations should be kept modest for the Americans heading into Qatar, but getting back into the field after the embarrassment of four years ago is a huge step in the right direction.