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World Cup - Football: All you need to know about World Cup 2022

Arguably the greatest sporting competition on the planet, the World Cup returns for its 22nd edition at Qatar 2022. Here's everything you need to know about next year's spectacle.

When is the World Cup?

There will be a winter World Cup with the 64 matches crammed in between November 21st and December 18th.

Where can I watch the World Cup?

UK coverage will be divided up between BBC and ITV with both channels sharing the rights to screen the final at the recently opened Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail City, close to the Qatari capital, Doha.

What is the World Cup?

It is the premier competition in international football which has taken place every four years (with the exception of a 12-year hiatus either side of World War Two) ever since the inaugural event in Uruguay in 1930.

It was the brainchild of former FIFA President Jules Rimet, who wanted to stage a separate tournament which would build on the success of Olympic football tournaments.

How many teams contest the World Cup finals?

The first edition in Uruguay featured 13 teams but the number of participants increased to 16 in 1954 and 24 in 1982 before settling on the current number, 32, in 1998.

Further expansion is on the way with the agreement to widen the 2026 edition (to be staged across USA, Mexico and Canada) to 48 teams.

How are the qualification places divided among the different confederations?

The allocation of slots for different confederations remains unchanged, as it has done since Germany 2006.

Therefore, in addition to host nation Qatar, there will be 13 teams from Uefa (Europe), five from the CAF (Africa), between four and five from the AFC (Asia), between four and five from CONMEBOL (South America), between three and four from CONCACAF (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) and between zero and one from the OFC (Oceania).

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The Inter-Confederation playoffs, scheduled to take place in June 2022, will be contested by a single team from each of the AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and OFC regions with two of the four participants advancing to the finals.

Who has qualified for the 2022 tournament?

Only the host nation, Qatar, and two other nations, Germany and Denmark, had guaranteed their participation at the finals ahead of the November fixtures.

Germany had qualified as winners of Uefa qualifying Group J after winning seven of their opening eight games, while Denmark sealed top spot in Group F after winning their first eight fixtures.

France, Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and Spain joined them in qualifying over the weekend of the November break and two sides booked their spots on 15th November.

England's crushing 10-0 win in San Marino saw them edge out Poland in Group I, while Switzerland's 4-0 victory over Bulgaria, combined with Italy's shock stalemate against Northern Ireland, helped the Rossocrociati come through as winners of Group C.

True to form, The Netherlands left it late on the final night of group stages, with Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay netting in a 2-0 win over Norway. The Oranje will return to the World Cup after missing out in 2018 and will be joined by France and Belgium, both of whom topped their pools in style.

However, European champions Italy will not be heading to Qatar having been beaten by North Macedonia, who were then eliminated by Portugal, while Poland are also through.

Brazil have also maintained their record of qualifying for each and every World Cup, thanks to a 1-0 win over Colombia on 12th November. Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador joined them in the top four, but Peru missed out in the playoffs against Australia.

In North America, Canada will return to the World Cup after 36 years away after topping the final group ahead of Mexico and USA, with Costa Rica also qualifying after beating New Zealand in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Iran have come through Asian qualifying.

Morocco, Cameroon, Tunisia and Ghana have also come through CAF qualifying but the story of the final round saw Senegal edge out Egypt on penalties, meaning it will be Sadio Mane and not Mohamed Salah who will be in Qatar.

Keep track of who has qualified for the tournament with our World Cup qualification tracker.

When will the draw take place?

The finals draw took place in Doha on 1st April, prior to the full completion of qualifying. At this stage 30 of the 32 participants will be known and the final two will be revealed after the completion of the Inter-Confederation playoffs in June. Australia and Costa Rica took the final two spots.

What is the competition format?

The format has been unchanged since France 1998 and features a first round group stage with four teams competing in each of the eight sections.

The top two teams in each group progress to the knockout phase which features the round of 16, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final.

Each of the losing finalists will face off in the third-fourth placed playoff match which takes place the day before the final on 17th December.

Where will the matches be played?

There are eight confirmed venues with capacities ranging from 40,000 to the 80,000 Lusail Iconic Stadium which will host the final and one of the semi-finals.

Initially organisers had planned to build 12 venues but, as of April 2017, the Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it expected there would be eight.

Of the eight venues, seven will be either in or close to the capital, Doha.

The exception will be the 60,000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor which is the second largest arena and will host the tournament's opening game between Qatar and an unknown Group A rival.

How many teams have won the World Cup?

Eight teams have won the World Cup and six of them have been multiple winners (the exceptions being England and Spain, who lifted the trophy in 1966 and 2010).

Every previous winner has been either European (12 victories) or South American (nine victories).

Who won the last World Cup?

France won the 2018 World Cup in Russia, winning 4-2 against first time finalists Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
It was France's second success in the competition and the first time they had triumphed on foreign soil.

Who are the most successful teams in World Cup history?

Brazil have not won the World Cup since 2002 but they are the most successful team in the competition's history with five victories, all of them achieved on foreign soil.

The Samba Stars golden era was between 1958 and 1970 when, with the considerable help of Pele, they won three of four World Cups.

German teams have appeared in the most finals (eight).

West Germany contested six finals, winning three of them, while Germany have appeared in two – finishing runner up to Brazil in 2002, and defeating Argentina in 2014.

Who are the best teams never to have won a World Cup?

Some great teams have failed to get their hands on the trophy but the hardest luck stories could be shared by Hungary and the Netherlands.

Hungary had a great team in the early 1950s, famously defeating England 6-3 at Wembley in November 1953, and were widely considered to be the outstanding team at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland but they fell short – losing 3-2 to West Germany in the final.

A Hungarian team featuring outstanding players Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Kocsis and Nandor Hidegkuti were two goals up after eight minutes but their opponents came roaring back to record a surprise success.

Another top class team to be edged aside by West Germany were the Dutch team of 1974, featuring legendary attacker Johan Cruyff.

The Dutch took the lead in the final, only to succumb to a 2-1 defeat, and they fell just short of redemption four years later – reaching the 1978 final and losing out 3-1 after extra-time to host nation Argentina.

Who have been the most iconic players on the World Cup stage?

Pele would be the choice of many people as the greatest footballer of all-time and his impact on World Cups has been undeniable.

The former Santos superstar was part of three World Cup winning squads, scoring 12 goals, and would probably have netted a lot more had he not been injured in the second game of the 1962 tournament in Chile.

In the two finals he did participate in (1958 and 1970) he scored three goals, and he laid on the assist for Carlos Alberto's famous strike in the 4-1 demolition of Italy in the 1970 final which is widely regarded as one of the greatest goals in the tournament's history.

A rival to Pele's status as one of the greatest World Cup players is Maradona, who dragged Argentina across the line at Mexico 1986.

Maradona scored five goals in the 1986 tournament, including the infamous 'hand of god' goal in the 2-1 quarter-final success against England and an outstanding individual goal in the same contest.

Do host nations have a big advantage?

There won't be too many people queuing up to back Qatar, who are 150/1 with bet365 with 2022 World Cup glory, but it is undeniable that host nations have a big advantage.

Six of the 21 previous winners have triumphed in front of their home fans although the last of them (France in 1998) was 23 years ago.

Brazil were famously disappointing hosts in 2014 – losing 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals – but there have been recent examples of home teams rising to the occasion with South Korea going all the way to the last four in 2002 and unheralded Russia reaching the last eight in 2018.

Who will be the favourites to win the competition?

The 2022 competition has a competitive feel with ten teams priced up between 6/1 and 16/1 with bet365.

Holders France and five-times winners Brazil share 6/1 favouritism and England get a 7/1 quote to go one step further than they did at Euro 2020.

Italy are a 10/1 chance to back up their Euro 2020 triumph and Germany are quoted at the same odds despite failing to get out of their group at Russia 2018.

The Netherlands, who were absent at Russia 2018, get a 16/1 quote, while Croatia are an 80/1 chance despite coming so close three years ago.

The chances of a first winner from outside of Europe or South America look slim.

Mexico and Nigeria are 100/1 pokes and Senegal are available to back at 150/1.

Who will be the top scorer contenders?

Next year could be the last chance for two of the greatest modern era players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, to win a World Cup winners medal.

Ronaldo is the top international goalscorer of all-time but only seven of them have been at World Cups.

Messi has notched just six times at World Cups, four of them in 2014 when Argentina finished runners-up to Germany.

If the younger generation are to shine it could be Kylian Mbappe, who will only be 23 by the start of the finals, who makes the biggest impact.

Mbappe played a crucial role in France's success at Russia 2018, scoring four goals, and, injury-permitting, he will arrive in Qatar with much greater experience under his belt.

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