Who Are You Rooting For In The 2022 World Cup?

The 2022 World Cup will begin Sunday, November 20, as hosts Qatar kick off against Ecuador at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. The United States Men’s National Team will play Wales in their first match on November 21 at 2 p.m., and you can catch all the games on FOX Sports. There’s been all manner of controversy around FIFA’s decision to award the tournament to Qatar, including that the winter timing has disrupted the club season in Europe’s top leagues, where most of the best players have day jobs.

Injuries have been a problem in the lead-up, with some big names ruled out—defending champions France have been hit particularly hard, with Paul Pogba and Christopher Nkunku among the casualties—and some observers have blamed the short turnaround between the final club matches last weekend and the tournament kickoff a week later.

A handful of World Cup stalwarts—Italy, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Chile, Colombia—also failed to qualify. Still, there are a lot of bold-face names in attendance, and there are some spicy battles brewing. Groups F (Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia), G (Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon), and H (Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea) are shaping up as the trickiest, though the USA’s Group B is no joke.

No matter the particulars, this thing is always fun when it rolls around every four years. Here’s a totally objective guide to who you should support for the next six weeks or so.

5. Team USA

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OK, our rep for objectivity has already taken a hit here. But how could you not root for this daring young team after reading our profile of six key players who represent a generation of American soccer players unlike any who’ve come before? You’ve heard this story every four years, we know, but this isn’t Freddy Adu or even Landon Donovan.

We’ve got guys playing at Europe’s biggest clubs and in the biggest leagues, including the Champions League. There are some question marks at center forward and center back, for sure.

4. Argentina

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Lionel Messi said this week that he won’t play for much longer, which is a genuine tragedy for the sport. (Even fans of his greatest rival, who’s got his own problems, might agree.) He is the great one, the best to ever do it, and he’s back in imperious form at Paris Saint-Germain this season. Somehow, though, this prize has always eluded him, even when he dragged Argentina to the final in 2014.

Some have blamed his supporting cast in the past, but this time around, they’re solid from back to front: Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martinez are formidable in central defense, while Messi is joined by names like Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, and Julian Alvarez in attack.

3. Denmark

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A sentimental pick here, with Christian Eriksen making his return to the world stage after the great horror of his fall at Euro 2020, when he was a victim of cardiac arrest. He is a master playmaker, the conductor of the orchestra, and Denmark will need to summon all of his talent to make a run.

Granted, they made it pretty far even without him at the Euros, powered by the stoic heroism of Simon Kjaer in defense and the ferocious Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in central midfield. The Danes have a relatively easy ride in Group D, drawn against minnows Tunisia and Australia along with a world-champion France squad weakened by injury.

2. Ghana

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The African delegation to this World Cup lacks the power of some previous editions, with Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire and Mo Salah’s Egypt missing the cut. The Black Stars, however, are a serious outfit. Daniel Amartey and Tariq Lamptey will bring Premier League quality to the defense, while brothers Jordan and André Ayew will cause trouble around the opposition box.

Iñaki Williams is the real danger man up front, though, and the fulcrum of the whole machine is Thomas Partey in central midfield. He has been imperious for Premier League leaders Arsenal this season, a wondrous combination of physical brawn and silky touch and tactical savvy.

1. Serbia

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The stylish Serbs have one of the more high-octane offenses in the tournament. They’ve got a pair of big-boy strikers in Aleksandar Mitrović and Dušan Vlahović who will stuff defenders in lockers before they put the ball in the net. Behind them is Dušan Tadić, the classy attacking midfielder, and farther back you can find more quality in Filip Kostić and Sergej Milinković-Savić.

The latter’s younger brother, Vanja, will start in goal. They’ve got a rough ride in Group G, with Brazil, Cameroon, and Switzerland on the fixture list, and that last matchup has an added element: Granit Xhaka, the Swiss captain, was born in Basel to a family with roots in Kosovo.

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