Open your calendars and brace yourselves for the games that will light up the first fortnight of Qatar 2022
Let’s face it. The World Cup is that one time when you devote yourself entirely to football. Making Japan vs Morocco an excuse to not go out for an evening is something that can stand up only during this special time of year. But that’s not to say there isn’t a hierarchy in the tournament’s schedule. For those fans who sadly cannot watch EVERYTHING and instead have to pick their battles, we’ve chosen a list of top 5 group stage games you cannot afford to miss. England vs. Wales also deserves a mention.
5. Brazil vs. Serbia
How Brazil will show up to a World Cup is a question that bothers every football fan. In this tournament, we will get an initial answer when they meet the strongest opponent in their group on their first matchday. It’s a sequel to their meeting in the previous tournament in Russia, where the Seleção came out with the upper hand, winning 2-0. Having reached the tournament with an impressive qualifying campaign and boasting a wealth of talented players in their prime, this will also be a massive test of strength for the Serbians, who’ve yet to leave their mark in a major competition since breaking apart from Yugoslavia in 1992.
4. Wales vs England
The only game on this list with a strong sense of rivalry. Former Three Lions defender and current pundit, Gary Neville, said after the draw: “… those games are really challenging for England – always have been. We know how much it means to the Welsh, the Scottish to play against England – that’s not being arrogant, we just know it’s a huge fixture.” The one and only time the two sides met in a big tournament provided an entertaining, dramatic game, with Daniel Sturridge giving England the 2-1 win in the 90th minute.
With Wales hoping to leave their mark on a first World Cup appearance since 1958, the last match in Group B could be decisive for their efforts or alternatively a battle for first place. Let’s hope that the atmosphere remains friendly in and outside the stadium.
3. Argentina vs. Mexico
This game made the list for reasons not only restricted to what happens on the pitch. The two fanbases lead the list of ticket-buyers for the tournament, translating into huge demand for supporters to get into the match. Knowing the fiesta the Argentinians and Mexicans create outside and inside stadiums during world cups, we can start dreaming about the atmosphere during the game.
2. France vs. Denmark
This is the second match on the list that was also played in the last World Cup. But how things have changed in the four years since the dull, 0-0 draw at the Luzhniki Stadium. Denmark’s rise has been rapid, with an impressive Euro 2020 campaign where only a refereeing mistake denied them a place in the final and attractive qualifying campaign for this World Cup. On the other hand, France has struggled to find their rhythm since lifting the trophy four years ago. It is still hard to argue against the fact that Les Bleus have the deepest squad in almost every position, making them a top-five candidate to go all the way once again this time.
1. Spain vs Germany
No matter when, where, and what form they are in, a match between Spain and Germany always offers up some of the best that international football can offer. In the here-and-now context, it seems that both teams are on the rise, with a combination of exciting young players and seasoned veterans, led by coaches who are smoothly transitioning them to a new era following great generations in the early part of the previous decade.