The 2022 FIFA World Cup gets started this weekend which means almost an entire month of non-stop soccer action. Ahead of the group stage’s kickoff on Sunday, let’s take a look at which group, if any, can be dubbed the Group of Death for this year’s tournament.
In almost every major soccer tournament that utilizes a group stage, one of those groups is inevitably named the Group of Death. In the World Cup, the top two countries in each four-team group will advance to the knockout rounds while the other two teams will be sent home. When you get three or more high-ranked teams who are usually expected to make a deep run in the same group, it’s usually given the Group of Death tag since only two can advance, which means at least one of those higher-ranked teams won’t make it out of the group stage.
Who is the Group of Death in this year’s World Cup? You won’t find a clear-cut universal answer as there are several groups who could be considered, and everyone will have their own different opinions. Let’s take a closer look at the groups we think qualify for the Group of Death label ahead of the action in Qatar.
2022 World Cup: Group of Death
Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia
Lionel Messi is making his final World Cup appearance as he looks for his first-ever title with Argentina. It won’t be an easy path for his side, as they’ve been drawn into Group C with Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia. Argentina is the favorite to win the group with odds at -250 at DraftKings Sportsbook, but Mexico has advanced to the round of 16 in their last seven consecutive appearances and they have a knack for upsetting bigger teams.
Poland, while not seeing much World Cup action historically, qualified for the second straight time and will be led by 34-year-old Barcelona superstar Robert Lewandowski, who is likely also playing his last World Cup tournament.
Group E: Germany, Spain, Japan, Costa Rica
Consisting of two of the top teams in the world, Germany and Spain are expected to advance out of Group E while Costa Rica and Japan will be the underdogs fighting for their place in the knockouts. Costa Rica qualified after taking down New Zealand in the inter-confederation playoffs back in June, and have a solid defense that could spell trouble for any given team on the right day.
The Germans will be looking for redemption after finishing last in Group F in the 2018 World Cup, making an early exit as they looked to defend their 2014 championship.
Group G: Brazil, Cameroon, Serbia, Switzerland
Brazil come in as the tournament favorites, boasting stars like Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Vinicius Jr., Raphinha, and a slew of other top tier players. It’s not a clear-cut finish at the top of the group for the Brazilians, though, as they’ll be opposed by teams like Serbia, who went undefeated through UEFA qualification and finished on top of Group A, ahead of the likes of Portugal and Ireland. Switzerland did the same through their qualifying run, remaining unbeaten while finishing on top of their group. Cameroon, although not expected to make it out of the group, will bring a strong product on the field as they topped Ivory Coast in the group stage of qualifying followed by Algeria in the third round.
While everyone will have their own interpretations, I’m inclined to lean toward Group E as the Group of Death in 2022, if we have to narrow it down to one. There are plenty of incredibly tough groups for teams to navigate this time around, but Germany and Spain could be lulled into a false sense of comfort as the favorites to advance while Japan and Costa Rica will look to give both European giants a run for their money.