World Cup team guides from Brazil to Qatar: Manager, star player and predictions
Posted by  badge Boss on Nov 19
Get the low-down on the teams vying for the World Cup trophy – can France lift it again? (Picture: Shutterstock)

How much do you know about the Saudi Arabian football team? What about the national side of Tunisia? Or Morocco?

One of the brilliant things about international football tournaments is the exposure it gives us to players from around the world. But the sheer number and variety of teams can be intimidating.

That’s where this guide comes in. Every side is here, broken down into an analysis of their prospects, manager, and star player.

This is the perfect fuel for dinner table debates and pub arguments. But it will also allow you to sound cleverer than ever while watching matches. You’ll be able to say ‘Naturally, Ecuador looks a lot better structurally, now that Gustavo Alfaro has tightened up the defence’, while your mates look on in awe.

Check out our full guide below, and happy watching!

GROUP A

Qatar

Almoez Ali is the star player of the host nation’s team (Picture: Ryan Pierse – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Coach: Felix Sanchez

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Star player: Almoez Ali

Finals best: Debut

The 2019 Asian Cup winners face a major challenge to avoid becoming only the second host nation to be eliminated at the first hurdle. Qatar’s entire squad has been together since June to prepare for their big moment.

Ecuador

Gustavo Alfaro has had two years to whip this young team into shape (Picture: Raul Arboleda/ AFP via Getty Images)

Coach: Gustavo Alfaro

Star player: Moises Caicedo

Finals best: Second round 2006

The 2019 South American U20 champions have a youthful side – including Brighton trio Caicedo, Jeremy Sarmiento and Pervis Estupinan – which is suited to counter-attacking. Argentine boss Alfaro took charge in 2020 and has tightened the defence, but goals have dried up.

Senegal

Coach: Aliou Cisse

Star player: Sadio Mane

Finals best: Quarter-finals 2002

Qualified by beating Egypt on penalties, a repeat of the Africa Cup of Nations final. Have class and experience in record-scorer Mane – fitness permitting – and Chelsea pair Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Netherlands

Virgil van Dijk’s going to have to do some serious defending to help his team (Picture: Peter Lous/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Coach: Louis van Gaal

Star player: Virgil van Dijk

Finals best: Runners-up 1974, 1978, 2010

Van Gaal came out of retirement for a third spell in charge but has had limited time to implement his methods. Star striker Memphis Depay’s lack of club action is not ideal, while leaving out NEC Nijmegen’s Jesper Cillessen means the three goalkeepers in the squad have just eight caps between them.

GROUP B

England

Gareth Southgate will have high hopes for his team, but can the Three Lions deliver? (Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Coach: Gareth Southgate

Star player: Harry Kane

Finals best: Winners 1966

Semi-finalists in 2018 and Euro 2020 runners-up, England should be full of confidence. But the road to the Middle East has been littered with setbacks: six games without a win, five without a goal and a 4-0 home defeat to Hungary en route to Nations League relegation.

Iran

Coach: Carlos Queiroz

Star player: Mehdi Taremi

Finals best: First round 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018

Queiroz was reappointed in September, having led Iran to the 2014 and 2018 tournaments. Avoiding a hat-trick of early exits is the goal and a squad with plenty of European experience could spring a surprise.

United States

Many US players such as Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic play in Europe’s top leagues (Picture: Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Coach: Gregg Berhalter

Star player: Christian Pulisic

Finals best: Third place 1930

Berhalter is blessed with more talent than his predecessors. Many of his squad operate in Europe’s top leagues and fans expect them to make it out of the group – as they did in 2010, when also drawn with England.

Wales

All eyes will be on star player Gareth Bale (Picture: Adam Pretty – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Coach: Robert Page

Star player:

Finals best: Quarter-finals 1958

Wales ended a 64-year wait for a second World Cup by overcoming Ukraine in a play-off. No other nation has gone so long between appearances. The fitness of talismanic Bale is central to their hopes but a decent draw provides optimism.

GROUP C

Argentina

The legendary player has one last chance to help Argentina win the World Cup (Picture: Elsa/Getty Images)

Coach: Lionel Scaloni

Star player:

Finals best: Winners 1978, 1986

Messi has won everything at club level and, with the 2021 Copa America, finally lifted silverware with . Now aged 35, he gets one last shot at football’s ultimate prize, surrounded by an industrious and gifted team who are unbeaten in 35 games.

Saudi Arabia

Coach: Herve Renard

Star player: Salem Al-Dawsari

Finals best: Second round 1994

The Green Falcons cruised through qualifying but make the short trip to Qatar as one of the major underdogs. They picked up their first tournament win since 1994 by defeating Egypt in their final group game in Russia four years ago.

Mexico

Coach: Gerardo Martino

Star player: Edson Alvarez

Finals best: Quarter-finals 1970, 1986

Have suffered last-16 exits at the last seven tournaments. Emulating that modest if remarkably consistent record may prove tricky. Many fans – dismayed by three successive defeats to the USA in 2021 – are frustrated with an ageing side.

Poland

Can Robert Lewandowski help Poland reach the knockout stages for the first time in 36 years? (Picture: Mateusz Slodkowski/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz

Star player: Robert Lewandowski

Finals best: Third place 1974, 1982

Lewandowski will be critical to Polish hopes of reaching the knockout stages for the first time since 1986. Michniewicz, whose side includes Aston Villa’s Matty Cash, secured qualification in just his second match after Paulo Sousa’s shock resignation.

GROUP D

France

With talent like Kylian Mbappe, will France lift the trophy again? (Picture: Michael Regan – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Coach: Didier Deschamps

Star player: Kylian Mbappe

Finals best: Winners 1998, 2018

Packed with talent, including Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, and enviable strength in depth even without the injured Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. are among the favourites.

Australia

Coach: Graham Arnold

Star player: Aaron Mooy

Finals best: Second round 2006

Expectations are low following an underwhelming qualifying campaign, which ended with a surprise penalty shoot-out success over Peru. Few of the squad play in major leagues.

Denmark

Christian Eriksen’s miarculous return following a major health inicident in 2020 is a boost to Denamrk’s hopes (Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Coach: Kasper Hjulmand

Star player: Christian Eriksen

Finals best: Quarter-finals 1998

Denmark won nine of ten games in qualifying, scoring 30 goals and conceding three. Eriksen’s return after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 is both miraculous and a major boost to their hopes.

Tunisia

Coach: Jalel Kadri

Star player: Wahbi Khazri

Finals best: First round 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018

Play-off winners Tunisia are tactically cautious and a 5-1 warm-up thrashing by Brazil emphasised their shortcomings. Former assistant coach Kadri was promoted in March.

GROUP E

Spain

Coach: Luis Enrique

Star player: Pedri

Finals best: Winners 2010

Enrique is developing a talented young team as Spain emerge from the shadow of the squads which won the 2010 World Cup and successive Euros. A run to the Euro 2020 semis renewed belief.

Costa Rica

Many of the core players from Uruguay’s 2014 success remain on the team (Picture: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez

Star player: Keylor Navas

Finals best: Quarter-finals 2014

The final nation to secure a spot in Qatar overcame a dismal start to qualifying. Many of the veterans who helped eliminate England and Italy in 2014 remain, with the ageing core supplemented by a host of inexperienced youngsters.

Germany

Expectations are low for Germany, but could teen star Jamal Musiala change the game? (Picture: Thomas Eisenhuth – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)

Coach: Hansi Flick

Star player: Jamal Musiala

Finals best: Winners 1954, 1974, 1990 (as West Germany), 2014

Aside from the hosts, Germany were the first country to qualify but travel with subdued expectations. They suffered the ignominy of finishing bottom of their group four years ago and still look light in key areas.

Japan

Daichi Kamada is a top goal-scorer for Japan (Picture: Mark Metcalfe – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Coach: Hajime Moriyasu

Star player: Daichi Kamada

Finals best: Second round 2002, 2010, 2018

Japan are appearing at a seventh consecutive finals but Moriyasu, who prefers a quick-passing, hard-running game, has 19 World Cup debutants in his squad. Kamada hit five goals as Eintracht Frankfurt won last season’s Europa League.

GROUP F

Belgium

Can Kevin De Bruyne help his ailing team out of the knockout stages? (Picture: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Coach: Roberto Martinez

Star player: Kevin De Bruyne

Finals best: Third place 2018

Cruised through qualifying yet their golden generation is past its best. De Bruyne is arguably at the peak of his powers but Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku have endured long struggles with form and fitness.

Canada

Coach: John Herdman

Star player: Alphonso Davies

Finals best: First round 1986

Canada return from the wilderness having finished pointless and goalless in 1986. Topped their qualifying group ahead of 2026 co-hosts Mexico and the United States and produced some scintillating football along the way.

Morocco

Coach: Walid Regragui

Star player: Hakim Ziyech

Finals best: Second round 1986

Vahid Halilhodzic secured qualification but was sacked in August after overlooking star man Ziyech. Regragui is tasked with injecting positive energy into a side who have won only two of 16 World Cup games.

Croatia

Croatia, with star player Luka Modric (left), will be hoping to go one better than 2018’s storming performance (PIcture: Goran Stanzl/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)

Coach: Zlatko Dalic

Star player: Luka Modric

Finals best: Runners-up 2018

Results have been mixed since storming to the 2018 final but Croatia remain a dangerous proposition, as shown by June’s 1-0 win over France. Veteran skipper Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic form a strong midfield.

GROUP G

Brazil

Neymar’s skill and a solid defence make Brazil the favourites going into the competition (Picture: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Coach: Tite

Star player: Neymar

Finals best: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002

Defensively rock-solid and with an awesome array of attacking options easing the burden on Neymar, the World Cup’s most successful nation are the favourites but haven’t made the final since winning 20 years ago.

Serbia

Coach: Dragan Stojkovic

Star player: Aleksandar Mitrovic

Finals best: First round 2010, 2018.

Former playmaker Stojkovic has the talent for his attacking philosophy, including Mitrovic, Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luka Jovic. But their defence may not be up to the job.

Switzerland

Coach: Murat Yakin

Star player: Granit Xhaka

Finals best: Quarter-finals 1934, 1938, 1954

Topped their qualifying group ahead of European champions Italy. A memorable 18 months in which they were also a penalty shoot-out away from the semi-finals of Euro 2020 gives realistic hopes of a first quarter-final in 68 years.

Cameroon

Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar will be hoping to score for his team (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Coach: Rigobert Song

Star player: Vincent Aboubakar

Finals best: Quarter-finals 1990

Africa’s most frequent World Cup visitors have not won a match at the finals for 20 years. Former defender Song replaced Toni Conceicao in February but his squad are in transition and may struggle to end the winless run.

GROUP H

Portugal

Bernardo Silva makes up part of a very talented squad for Portugal (Picture: Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Coach: Fernando Santos

Star player: Bernardo Silva

Finals best: Third place 1966

Santos has been in charge since 2014 but has exhausted his credit for winning Euro 2016. His squad is brimming with talent, such as Bruno Fernandes and Silva, not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo who, at 37, remains the most reliable goalscorer.

Ghana

Coach: Otto Addo

Star player: Thomas Partey

Finals best: Quarter-finals 2010

Ghana bounced back from the humiliation of finishing bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group by upsetting Nigeria in a play-off. Interim coach Addo has a hungry, young group but has enjoyed just one 90-minute win as manager.

Uruguay

Darwin Nunez is Uruguay’s star player (Picture: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Coach: Diego Alonso

Star player: Darwin Nunez

Finals best: Winners 1930, 1950

Alonso took over last year after Oscar Tabarez’s 15-year reign ended in the axe. He must blend the old and the new, with Diego Godin, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani preparing for their final hurrahs in Qatar.

South Korea

Coach: Paulo Bento

Star player: Heung-min Son

Finals best: Fourth place 2002

Reaching a tenth consecutive World Cup is an enviable record only bettered by Brazil and Germany, but South Korea are perhaps overly dependent on captain Son. The Tottenham forward, who has 35 scored goals in 104 caps, is touch-and-go due to a fractured eye socket.

In-depth team guides

Want the full low-down on the teams competing in the 2022 World Cup? Check out our in-depth team guides:

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 and .


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