The Qatar World Cup has been moving at a rapid rate, with the period of four matches a day now over. Today will mark the beginning of the third group stage games with eight teams in action – including England and Wales. Express Sport will now take a look at all 32 teams and provide our verdict on them so far.
Group A: Netherlands, Ecuador, Senegal, Qatar
Sitting top of Group A is the Netherlands, who have picked up four points from their opening two matches. They beat Senegal 2-0 at the beginning of the tournament, before then drawing 1-1 with Ecuador.
Yet while Cody Gakpo has been electric, they’ve not exactly set the world alight. Improvement is needed if they’re to finally win the World Cup, having lost in three finals in the past.
Ecuador cruised past Qatar in their opening match and were resilient against the Netherlands last time out.
It’s hard to see them going too far in the tournament, especially if they face England in the next round, but they deserve credit for the way they’ve been playing so far.
Senegal were tested by Qatar last week and lost to the Netherlands. They need to beat Ecuador tonight to go through.
They have some top players but lack the swagger of previous tournaments. That said, it’ll be intriguing to see what kind of show they put on tonight.
Qatar were always going to have their work cut out when it comes to making it out of the group.
Certainly, they lack the same quality as other teams and they’ll be looking to avoid becoming the first host nation to lose every game when they kick off later tonight.
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
Sitting top of the group is England. They sparkled against Iran in their opening game, winning 6-2, with Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham both standing out.
However, their goalless draw with the USA brought them crashing back down to earth. Fans booed them from the field that night and they’ll take to the pitch tonight with a point to prove.
Iran, as mentioned above, were unable to prevent England from claiming all three points on matchday one.
Spurred on by politics back home and even here in Qatar, however, they rallied to beat Wales. Avoid defeat against USA tonight and they’ll have made it to the round of 16 against all odds.
USA have the potential to upset big guns at major tournaments. They previously made the quarter-finals in 2002, with nobody seeing that coming.
They’ve actually played pretty well and were unlucky not to beat England last week. They’ll be hopeful of beating Iran, though it has the makings of a tough game.
Wales had gone into the tournament hoping old stalwarts such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey could fire them through.
Alas, that hasn’t happened and they’ve underwhelmed in their opening two matches. Crashing out of the tournament this evening seems to be on the cards, with Rob Page’s team requiring a miracle.
Group C: Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico
Poland were held by Mexico in their opening game of the group, with Robert Lewandowski missing a penalty that night.
Yet the Barcelona star proceeded to make amends against Saudi Arabia, helping his side to a 2-0 victory. They’re in pole position to top the group, something few foresaw at the start of the tournament.
Argentina had gone into the World Cup as one of the favourites to win, but they’ve looked vulnerable at the tournament so far.
They lost to Saudi Arabia, a result that stunned the world, before then beating Mexico. Lionel Messi scored in both matches – and he’ll be key if they’re to go all the way this winter.
3) Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia were given no chance against Argentina and, yet, produced a performance worthy of picking up all three points.
They weren’t at their best against Poland, though, and now face a crunch clash with Mexico on Wednesday evening.
All good things come to an end eventually.
Mexico have made it through to the knockout stages of the World Cup every year since 1990. That looks set to end on Wednesday, though, with elimination almost certainly on the cards.
Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
Kylian Mbappe has had his critics but the France international is in majestic form for his country, scoring three goals and providing one assist so far.
The reigning champions miss key men such as Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Presnel Kimpembe but still have enough quality to defend their crown.
Australia lost their opening game against France but did put up a fight, going 1-0 up before shipping four goals in return.
Win on Thursday and they’ll join Didier Deschamps’ side in the next round, with the Aussies set to lock horns with Denmark.
Denmark had entered the competition as dark horses to win the World Cup, especially given the talent in their squad.
But while they pushed France all the way, they’ve underwhelmed so far. Their game with Australia certainly has plenty riding on it.
Tunisia aren’t expected to cause an upset when they face France.
They’re yet to score in the competition and have looked devoid of imagination up top. Therefore, elimination is expected.
Group F: Croatia, Morocco, Belgium, Canada
Croatia reached the final back in 2018 and Luka Modric remains as impressive as ever.
That said, their draw with Morocco was tedious to watch. Their victory over Canada, however, was much more like their usual selves.
Morocco were outstanding against Belgium, putting the Red Devils to the sword with a strong attacking performance.
Beat Canada and they’re through. The last time they reached the round of 16 was back in 1986, while they failed to qualify for the tournament between 2002 and 2014.
What a disappointment Belgium have been.
Snarky comments from figures such as Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen haven’t helped and their golden generation appears to have passed them by. Roberto Martinez has questions to answer.
Canada were plucky against Belgium and that gave them reason to believe they could stun Croatia, with manager John Herdman making some rather rude comments prior to that clash.
Yet they’re already out and have nothing to play for, with Canada due to face Morocco in their final match of the tournament.
Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Cameroon, Serbia
Brazil haven’t been their usual swashbuckling selves so far this tournament and scraped a 1-0 win over Switzerland on Monday night.
Yet they have the quality required to claim the golden gong for a sixth time and, though they’ve been unconvincing, are still favourites in the eyes of many.
Switzerland have always been pretty consistent at the World Cup.
They pushed Brazil all the way last night and did well to claim all three points at the expense of Cameroon in their opening match of the competition.
Cameroon did well to rally to a 3-3 draw with Serbia on Monday.
But they’re too vulnerable at the back and their shortcomings in that area of their squad are set to cost them dear.
Serbia looked to have given themselves a chance of making it out of the group when they went 3-1 up against Cameroon.
However, they were unable to hold on and though they’ve got two fine strikers in Aleksander Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic, elimination beckons.
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, South Korea, Uruguay
Portugal have flexed their attacking muscles at the tournament so far, scoring five goals so far – with Bruno Fernandes grabbing two against Uruguay on Monday.
Cristiano Ronaldo continues to look a shadow of his usual self, though. They’re ticking along nicely but, given how vulnerable they were against Ghana, still have room for improvement.
Ghana are a great team to watch.
Suspect at the back, but impressive going forward, they’ll go into their final game of the tournament against Uruguay hoping to seal their passage to the last 16.
3) South Korea
South Korea have picked up just a point so far and came undone against Ghana in a high-octane World Cup clash yesterday.
Son Heung-Min hasn’t been able to deliver and a repeat of 2002, when they made the quarter-finals, doesn’t appear to be likely.
Much has been made of Uruguay’s excellent attack. Certainly, they’re blessed to have forwards such as Edinson Cavani, Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez.
But they’ve been unable to score so far and, against Portugal, looked content to take just a point. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen.