The path to the World Cup final for nations that have qualified for the tournament held in Qatar has now been laid out. The draw for the World Cup finals was held late last week, with the biggest nations involved in the competition finding out the sides that they will come up against in the group stages.
Following the draw, the FIFA World Cup odds have been amended, with Brazil, England, and France all shortening after getting favorable draws. But, which nations will be happiest with the sides that they have been paired with for the group stages?
The Netherlands is one of the most unlucky sides at the World Cup, having finished third in the competition on three occasions. However, fortune was certainly on their side for the tournament this year, as they were handed the perfect draw for the competition in Qatar.
It will be a welcome sight for neutrals, as the famous orange strips were missing from the 2018 World Cup, but they sailed through qualification to make it through to the finals this year.
The Dutch will certainly feel as though they have the best chance of topping the group, as they have been drawn in Group A, alongside hosts Qatar and Ecuador. Their most testing fixture is likely to come on matchday one, as the Dutch must see off reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal.
A safe passage through as group winners will set up a fixture against second place in Group B, which could realistically mean a round of 16 tie against Wales, Scotland, or Ukraine.
The English press has a habit of getting ahead of themselves, but it would be hard to dismiss that the Three Lions were one of the happiest sides with the draw that they got. England will be looking to maintain their upward trajectory in recent tournaments, having finished fourth at the World Cup four years ago and losing finalists at EURO 2020.
On paper, the Three Lions should face very little issue in making it through to the knockout rounds as group winners, as they will come up against Iran and the United States.
England has unbeaten records against both nations and will be expected to win comfortably. However, the big story coming out of the draw was the fourth side placed in Group B, as there could be a first World Cup showdown against either Scotland or Wales for England, depending on which nation progresses out of the qualification Path A.
It is the star fixture regardless for England, and excitement levels are now high that football could be coming home. England will be clear favorites to top Group A, which could mean a showdown with Senegal in the round of 16 should they finish second. However, the big test could potentially come in the quarterfinals, as the Three Lions could collide with France.
Brazil has been a long-time favorite to win the World Cup later this year, and it’s hard to knock the clear credentials of the five-time winners. However, they will certainly have questions to answer this year, as they come into the World Cup having failed to win their home Copa America last year.
Brazil was beaten in the final by Argentina but has looked incredibly strong throughout qualification. They topped the South American region without dropping to a defeat, but qualification has very rarely been an issue for the most successful nation in World Cup history.
Instead, they have flattered to deceive when the pressure has really been on in the knockout rounds. They have been knocked out at the quarterfinal stage in three of the previous four tournaments, while few would have forgotten the 7-1 hammering that they received at the hands of Germany in 2014.
Regardless, their strength in depth ensures that they have a solid chance this year, and they stand every chance of going deep in the competition having been drawn alongside Switzerland, Cameroon, and Serbia in Group G. But, the big test will come when the knockout stages get underway, as they could come up against Portugal or Uruguay in the round of 16.
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