FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Group G Teams: Thirty-two teams, 832 players, and eight groups of four countries each. After one of the most controversial build-ups, the football World Cup gets underway in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday with the hosts taking on Ecuador in the opening match at the Al Bayt Stadium.
The Indian Express takes a close look at each of the 32 teams, taking a look at their strengths, weaknesses, the player who can be their X-Factor, what would be the best-case scenario for them as well as the best (and the most catchy) phrase for the country’s football glossary.
2018 World Cup: Did not qualify
Despite reaching the final of AFCON many times, Ghana have failed to have a significant impact in the World Cups they have been a part of so far. Their best result came in 2006, when they got out of the group stage one and only time, losing to Brazil in the Round of 16.
To qualify this year, they have eliminated a strong Nigerian side. Their clash against Uruguay is going to be a mouth-watering one. It is difficult for them to get out of the group stage but not impossible. Getting to knockouts would be a success for them. And much like South Korea, finishing third and giving their fans something to celebrate, could be the secondary goal.
Head Coach of the @GhanaBlackstars Otto Addo has named his squad for the FIFA World Cup.
🔗 https://t.co/1mwuWcPFho#BringBackTheLove | #BlackStars pic.twitter.com/OBMGclDIim
— Ghana Football Association (@ghanafaofficial) November 14, 2022
The team is not low on star power, with players who have represented clubs in Europe’s elite.
Thomas Partey has been in tremendous form for Arsenal, and become one of their most crucial players, and Inaki Wliiams, who switched allegiances from Spain to Ghana, is a consistent performer and hard worker playing for Athletic Bilbao in Spain. The side’s captain Andre Ayew, who missed out in 2018 through injury, formerly played in the Premier League, and now plies his trade in Qatar, making his familiarity with the conditions a boon.
Additionally, manager Otto Addo was part of the 2006 team which went through to the knockout stage. They have a manager who has experience as a player to understand what it takes to get out of the group stage.
Despite many established European stars in the side, the team lacks experience in the World Cup both individually and even as a nation. The matchups are tough too, despite having Partey, winning the midfield battle against Portugal will be a task, and the solid structure of Uruguay will be hard to break down without a prolific goalscorer.
Inaki Williams: Williams is one of the eye-catching strikers outside Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in Spain. He may not be the most prolific goalscorer in the country, but he does have an eye for goal, scoring five this season for Bilbao.
The most startling aspect of Williams’ time at Bilbao is his consistency. He has played an unprecedented 246 consecutive appearances for the club, showing not only his superior fitness and physical prowess, but also his tactical awareness and ability to chip in with contributions in different setups and tactics.
If he can get a couple of goals in the group stage in the World Cup Ghana will be up and running and may spring up a few surprises.
Language of football- Mallam goal: Translated as witch doctor goal, this phrase is used when a decisive goal is scored in unusual circumstances, implying some sort of sorcery is at work, as described in the book Do You Speak Football by author Tom Williams.
Fixtures: Nov 24: vs Portugal (9:30 pm); Nov 28 vs South Korea (6:30 pm); December 2 vs Uruguay (8:30 pm)
2018 World Cup: Round of 16
This generation of Portugal’s team is filled with some extraordinary attacking prowess. After a disappointing outing in 2018, the team will try and make amends this time around. They find themselves in a tricky group, with Uruguay, Ghana, and South Korea all fancying their chances to progress to the knockout rounds, making each of the group stage matchups far from a foregone conclusion.
However, given the resources at their disposal and the goal-scoring abilities, anything less than quarter-finals would be considered a disappointment for Fernando Santos’s men.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗛𝗢𝗦𝗘𝗡 𝗢𝗡𝗘𝗦. ⚡🇵🇹 Senhoras e senhores, estes são os nossos eleitos que vão marcar presença no @FIFAWorldCup ! 🏆 #VesteABandeira
It’s 𝗢𝗙𝗙𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗔𝗟: this is our squad for the @FIFAWorldCup ! 🏆 #WearTheFlag pic.twitter.com/2LwDfWrVVG
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) November 10, 2022
This Portuguese side’s biggest strength is its strength in attacking numbers.
Similar to many sides Portugal side is blessed with some of the fiercest attacking players in Bruno Fernandez, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix and Cristiano Ronaldo. Support players in the middle of the park include Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves, with AC Milan’s Rafael Leao – a threat from both the left and as a striker – has made his case to be a part of the setup.
Additionally, Joao Cancelo may be a left back but he is a threat coming forward and shooting from a range, something which teams would be wary of. Nelson Semedo, if he gets picked on the right side of their back four, can be a huge headache for opposition defences with his relentless overlapping abilities.
While the attacking personnel is their strength, the right way to utilize them is the big problem.
Santos came under immense scrutiny after the team’s performance in the Euros, where his team played dished out a defensive performance and relied solely on counterattacks. The strategy served the team well during the 2016 Euros, which they won, but since then the performance has been rather mediocre. The attacking talent has not been used effectively in Santos’ time as manager, and scrutiny is at an all-time high going into the World Cup.
There’s also the other big question looming large: the role of Ronaldo, who has had a troubled season at Manchester United. The 37-year-old’s goalscoring ability is well-known, but with so much talent in the side’s ranks, and his ineffectiveness in a forward press making him a nuisance in modern systems, his place in the team – whether in the starting XI or not – will divide opinion.
Joao Cancelo: He is one of the most attacking full-backs in football he strikes the ball as cleanly as any forward in the game. His runs on the flanks, with his signature trivelas, can tear any defence apart. If Portugal are to shed their defensive tag, they’ll depend on Cancelo’s creativity to score goals.
Cancelo’s greatest strength is his versatility. Not only can he play on either wing of the defence, with Manchester City, he often inverts his overlapping runs to become an extra-attacking midfielder, and make up a more effective forward press. Santos is conservative with his defenders bombing forward, but Cancelo’s brilliance in the position may well change his mind.
Language of football- Trivela: If Cancelo is the player to watch out, his trivelas can never be far away. What’s called as an outside-of-the-boot shot or a cross in English has been dubbed as a trivela by the Portuguese, with Ricardo Quaresma having a reputation of being one of the finest exponents of the skill.
Fixtures: Nov 24 vs Ghana (9:30 pm); Nov 29 vs Uruguay (12:30 am); South Korea (8:30 pm)
2018 World Cup: Group Stage
The team has been in good form of late, they have qualified for the World Cup relatively comfortably. In recent times they have defeated teams like Colombia and Egypt which are teams ranked above them and their ranking in FIFA has come from 57 to 28 over the last year. It is a side on the rise – a good World Cup for them would be getting out of the group stage, a result which would be a surprise for many since they are coming up against heavyweights like Portugal and Uruguay. Their recent form suggests they are more than capable.
[#월드컵개막 D-3] 캡틴 #손흥민 월드컵 최다골 도전!
⚽ 한국인 월드컵 최다골 (3골)
⚽ #안정환 #박지성 #손흥민#대한민국 #축구국가대표팀 #카타르월드컵 #FIFAWorldCup #더뜨겁게theReds pic.twitter.com/NoTiCcLK3J
— theKFA (@theKFA) November 17, 2022
The team has some of the brightest youngsters in football in Asia, coupled with one of the Premier League’s best forwards: Son Heung-Min. It is the best team hands down in Asia. The team has a lot of pace and agility and can produce some quick counters and hurt any opposition. The onus will be on them to stay tight at the back and create spaces for their forward options, who will press and latch on to transitions with their youthful energy.
Kim Min-Jae is definitely a talent to watch out for. The central defender has barely let the absence of Kalidou Koulibally be felt by Napoli, who sit top of the table in Serie A through a resolute back four. He could be a leader, and galvanising figure, at the back.
Despite being qualified for the World Cup for the 10th time in a row. Outside Asia, the team has struggle to establish themselves as a force in international football. They have a young squad but with youth comes inexperience. They come up against more experienced sides that are at home at the World Cup stage – who have competed for big trophies before and have a lot of pedigree in the tournament
As bright as he inexperience may cost South Korea it is up to the manager Paulo Bento to make this work together and cover up for their flaws.
Son Heung-Min: Son’s injury – fracturing his eye socket during Tottenham’s game against Marseille in the group stage of the Champions League – is perhaps the worst possible news for South Korea ahead of the World, but given the fact that he will still travel to Qatar, it can be presumed that he will be playing some role in his side.
The team relies on Son’s qualities immensely going forward. If South Korea have aspirations to go deep in the tournament Son needs to play, and perform.
Language of football- Geomi-son: In English, this phrase is roughly translated as spider hands. It refers to a situation where every shot finds the goalkeeper and sticks to his hands. At the 2011 Asian Cup, India goalkeeper Subrata Pal was labeled ‘spider hands’ for making numerous saves against South Korea in a group stage match.
Fixtures: 24 Nov vs Uruguay (6:30 Pm), 28 Nov (6:30 Pm), 2 Dec (8:30 Pm)
2018 World Cup: Quarterfinals
After underachieving for years, there is hope that with a new generation of players, Uruguay has a fine blend of youth and experience on the side. The side, after its initial glory year in the World Cup back in 1930, have never been talked about as favourites for lifting the trophy.
However, this time around the side has a quality all over the pitch and with time it will get better.
This tournament may mark the beginning of a new generation of players for the Sky Blues. Last time around, they sprung a surprise on the reigning European champions Portugal, who are in their group this year, and made it into the quarterfinals. A similar result would be a solid finish.
Que empiece el juego 😏
Feliz de estar acá! 🇺🇾
Con mucha ilusión por todo lo que se nos viene 🇶🇦@Uruguay #ElEquipoQueNosUne #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/JRCS710HIv
— Agustín Canobbio (@Aguscano9) November 16, 2022
The team, at least on paper, have immense quality going forward.
Veteran strikers Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani will add valuable experience. The onus, instead, will fall on the younger generation. Federico Valverde has been brilliant for Real Madrid this season. Traditionally a midfielder, he has been used as an inverted winger, given his attacking threat, to also double up as a fourth midfielder. Liverpool record signing Darwin Nunez is the main goal threat, and he has been in top form in 2022.
Their individual talent going forward is supplemented by solidity at the back, under the management of Diego Alonso, they have been gritty, hardworking and difficult to beat for any side.
Suarez and Cavani are likely to be back in the team, but at the age and stage of their careers, they are likely to play bit-part roles only.
Suarez’s pace has gone down significantly over the last year and the Cavani’s tale has been more or less the same. Their frontline, and rest of the team, World Cup experience. Uruguay is a side which prefers to play a 4-4-2 formation, relying on the creative and attacking instinct of the front two. If their experienced veterans start slowly, the side may be in a bit of a pickle in the group stage.
Darwin Nunez: Despite criticism on his role and composure in the final third in terms of his decision making at Liverpool, Nunez has racked up seven goals in 15 appearance this season. The club has been struggling to create and press with the same intensity too.
With Suarez and Cavani’s decline, Alonso will rely on Nunez for goals, and the physicality and pace of the player will trouble defences. Like his fellow countrymen, Nunez plays with fire in the belly and with a lot of aggression.
Language of football -Garra Chharua: The phrase describes the ability to overwhelming odds with dollops of fighting spirit. Uruguayans use this phrase to describe their team, which often punches above their weight in the World Cups. The words garra means claw, which represents the ability to fight with grit and tenacity, and chharua is a reference to the indigenous people who live in Uruguay.
Fixtures: Nov 24 vs South Korea(6:30 pm), Nov 29 vs Portugal (12:30 am), Dec 2 vs Ghana(8:30 pm)
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