2022 World Cup Preview and Predictions: Group F

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching and we are bringing you a preview of every group ahead of the tournament, offering an insight into each team, as well as predictions as to who will progress to the knockout rounds. Below, we preview Group F that contains 2018 finalists Croatia, Roberto Martinez’s Belgium, African side Morocco and Canada, appearing at just their second-ever World Cup finals.

The Teams:





Group F Preview

Belgium have proven to be a real threat in major tournaments for the past eight years. However, the Red Devils saw a real decline for the best part of the 2000s, leaking into the 2010s. This saw them fail to qualify for neither the Euros or World Cup for a period from 2002 to 2014.

Nevertheless, the ‘golden generation’ announced Belgium as a major player once again at international tournaments, like at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where they reached the quarter-finals, winning four matches in the competition. Although head coach Roberto Martinez has overseen a number of changes to their ‘golden generation’ and they do have an ageing squad, Kevin de Bruyne remains a crucial part of the team and his performances will be key to their success.

Croatia also offer strong competition for Group F but the 2018 finalists are also dealing with a somewhat ageing squad that has seen some well-established players head towards the end of their careers. Luka Modric is now 37-years-old, in what will be his fourth World Cup campaign of his career, whilst former Inter man Ivan Perisic and Zenit’s Dejan Lovren are both 33-years-old.

Canada make their return to the World Cup for the first time since Mexico ’86 – their only ever prior World Cup appearance. The Maple Leafs actually topped the CONCACAF qualifying stage at the third phase, having to also compete at the second stage, unlike their counterparts USA, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Belgian Block

The quarter-final stage, for the most part, has seemed to be the limit to the Belgian’s success but they finally managed to get past that hoodoo at the last World Cup, finishing in third place after beating England in the third place playoff. An impressive 2-1 win against Brazil saw them reach the semi-finals but neighbors France ended their journey there, beating them 1-0 in Saint Petersburg.

Belgium perhaps have not been at the peak of their powers of late but they have only lost once in their last five games. However, they finished behind the Netherlands in their Nations League group, also suffering two defeats against Louis Van Gaal’s side, including a 4-1 defeat in Brussels back in June.

Romelu Lukaku has struggled to overcome injury issues at Inter this season and appeared in just two matches at the end of October before injuring himself once more. The 29-year-old forward has made the squad for Qatar 2022 but he could struggle to play at the start of the competition. The Chelsea loanee has performed well at major tournaments in the past, scoring four goals at the last World Cup and also equaling that tally at Euro 2020.

Croatia Continue to Threaten

Croatia saw success in 1998 when they finished in third place but they did suffer defeat to eventual winners France in the semi-finals. Recently, however, they put in their best-ever performance at a World Cup finals in 2018, going one step further by reaching the final. France would put an end to their journey at the final stage as Croatia finished as runners-up in Russia. They will want to avoid facing Les Blues this time around.

Head coach Zlatko Dalic seems to have the perfect mix of experience and youth at this year’s competition though, as the likes of 20-year-old Josko Gvardiol and 22-year-old Josip Stanisic make the squad, alongside the aforementioned veterans. Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic, Atalanta’s Mario Pasalic and Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic are at the peak of their careers so the squad has a nice balance overall.

Croatia head into the tournament on fantastic form, with the Kockasti finishing top of their UEFA Nations League group ahead of Denmark, France and Austria, also winning all four of their last international fixtures. A final send off for Modric could be in place and Croatia will once again play the role as dark horses in Qatar.

Moroccan Madness

Having featured in Russia in 2018, Morocco now return to the big stage in Qatar this year. This is the first time that they have qualified for back-to-back World Cup’s since they made the finals at both the 1994 and 1998 editions. They have qualified out of the groups once in their history (1986) but still have just two World Cup wins under their belt.

Nonetheless, they have still proven to be a strong nation in other major tournaments. They were runners up at the African Cup of Nations back in 2004 and also made the quarter-finals in 2021, losing against Egypt in extra time.

There is certainly talent across this Morocco side, such as Queens Park Rangers’ Ilias Chair, Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri and Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat. Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui were also selected in the squad. The Atlas Lions have proven they can compete with the best in the business too, narrowly losing 1-0 to Portugal at the 2018 World Cup and also drawing 2-2 with Spain at the same tournament. Could they be in line to pull of a shock result at Qatar 2022?

Key Fixture

Group F seems to be one of the most competitive groups at Qatar 2022 and both Canada and Morocco could put up valiant attempts to quash the threat of Croatia and Belgium. However, all eyes will be on December 1 for the clash between the Red Devils and the Kockasti. The two nations face each other on matchday three which could be an important showdown to decide the fate of Group F. 

Ones to Watch

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech will be the key man for the African side in Group F. He is set to make his return to the national team for the first time since June 2021 and is now part of the setup under new coach Walid Regragui.

Canada’s Cyle Larin finished as the top goalscorer in CONCACAF qualifying out of the whole group with six goals, followed closely in second by his fellow countryman and Lille forward Jonathan David. The two attackers could surprise a few people at this year’s tournament, especially if Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies is on form, bombing down the left flank and providing an offensive threat.

Group F Final Prediction

John Herdman’s Canada did recently go on an 11-match unbeaten run which ended in March of this year in a 1:0 defeat against Costa Rica. Their form has been a little unpredictable since, winning three and losing three in their last six international fixtures but the Canadian’s could surprise in Qatar.

Croatia and Belgium are the two sides that are most likely to make the knockout rounds, however, and we can’t look past the quality throughout both squads to see an upset on the cards. We’re backing Croatia to top the group due to the sheer number of players playing in the peak of their careers, whilst Belgium have one too many players coming to the end.

1. Croatia

2. Belgium

3. Canada

4. Morocco