WEEK AHEAD: The FIFA World Cup enters the knockout stages after another week of nail-biting action …
The first week in Qatar has not disappointed with the return of the FIFA World Cup blessing us with one of the most surprising opening rounds of recent history. With goals galore in some matches and a close to record number of goalless draws, what will this incredible competition throw up next?
If the first week is anything to go by, then we will be in for more shocks and famous comebacks, with Japan and Saudi Arabia already giving us wins against Germany and Argentina that will go down in history.
Kicking us off on Monday morning, we have a clash between Cameroon and Serbia in Group G that will be of great importance for the two sides, South Korea take on Ghana at 13:00 (BBC), where Son Heung-min will look to open his side’s goalscoring account at the tournament. Favourites Brazil play Switzerland at 16:00 (ITV), and Portugal and Uruguay play in one of the matches of the group stage at 19:00 (ITV). For those sick of the World Cup, though we are sure there can’t be many, there is a late-night NFL fixture between Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers at 01:15 (Sky Sports).
Tuesday sees Ecuador take on Senegal at 15:00 on ITV with Netherlands facing the host nation Qatar at 15:00 (ITV) before England’s Group B accomplices Iran and USA clash at 19:00 on BBC. Wales then take on England in the Three Lions’ final group-stage matches. Could we be in for some final game drama in the battle of Britain?
The World Cup keeps coming with Australia v Denmark at 15:00 on BBC and then another tournament favourite is in action at 15:00 (BBC) in Tunisia v France. Perhaps the surprise package of the tournament, Saudi Arabia face Mexico at 19:00 at the same time as Poland v Argentina in their final match of the group stages, where they will surely need to secure a win (19:00, BBC).
England start the first Test of their three-match series against Pakistan on Thursday morning (05:00, Sky Sports) before the first day of play from the Australian Open golf (06:00, Sky Sports). The World Cup action begins with Canada v Morocco and Croatia v Belgium, both kicking off at 15:00 on BBC. Tiger Woods is set to make his first start since the Open Championship in the Hero World Tour in Bermuda. Catch the opening day’s play from 18:30 on Sky Sports. Costa Rica then face Germany and, Japan play Spain in a turbulent group of death (both 19:00 ITV) at the World Cup.
The Australian Open begins at the earlier time of 02:00 (Sky Sports) and is followed by the second day from the cricket at 05:00 (Sky Sports). The Hero World Challenge continues form 18:30 (Sky Sports). Ghana v Uruguay and South Korea v Portugal are the 15:00 World Cup fixtures on Friday (BBC). ITV then supply the 19:00 games with Cameroon v Brazil and Serbia v Switzerland.
Saturday sees Australian Open (04:00, Sky Sports) and the cricket continue (05:00, Sky Sports), before the anticipated round of 16 fixtures begin with the winner of Group A playing the group B runner-up, either England, Wales, USA or Iran (15:00, ITV). Will Tiger be there for the weekend in Bermuda? Play from day three of the Hero World Tour starts at 17:30 on Sky Sports. The winner of C plays the runner-up of D (19:00, ITV), with either Argentina, Poland, Saudi Arabia or Mexico likely to be facing Denmark or France.
The final day of the week sees the conclusion of the Australian Open from 02:00 (Sky Sports), with the other golf tournament – the Hero World Tour – concluding from 16:00, also on Sky. Day four from the England v Pakistan Test begins at 05:00 (Sky Sports). At the World Cup there’s much to play for, as the winner of Group D plays the runner-up of C at 15:00 on ITV, and the winner of Group B, likely to be England, taking on perhaps Senegal or Netherlands (19:00, ITV).
Japan v Costa Rica is the Sunday morning game at 10:00 (ITV) before Belgium and Morocco face off at 13:00 (BBC). Croatia v Canada gets going at 16:00 (BBC), and then the biggest game of the group stages, Spain v Germany, ends the first sun-soaked week of 2022 World Cup football. Fear not, there is plenty more to come.