WEEK AHEAD: The World Cup returns for the 2022 edition in Qatar, and with all the planets best footballing nations raring to go, it is set to be an eye-catcher.
The FIFA World Cup has been one of the most significant dates in the calendar for sporting fans across the globe since 1930, and 2022 will be no different. Despite a smidgen of controversy and a number of surprises, the pitch beckons, and the legendary status of a World Cup winner is more than up for grabs.
Now it has arrived, the World Cup will dominate televisions far and wide as masses cram around their screens and squeeze up on their sofas for the greatest sporting show on earth. The opening ceremony and the first fixture of the tournament between Qatar and Ecuador kick off on Sunday afternoon and initiate the hazardous journey to the final on December 18th.
The rest of the world begin their campaigns during the week, with Monday offering some fantastic fixtures for eager fans. Each day of the first week of the Qatar World Cup, there will be four matches displayed from 10:00 with 13:00, 16:00 and 19:00 the following daily slots for matches.
Monday misses 10:00 and goes straight into the action with England’s opening fixture of the tournament, where they take on Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium. Kicking off at 13:00, the match will be displayed on BBC though it is more likely the average fan around the country will be tuning in from the pub. If like many, you are unfortunate enough not to have the day off work, it will be live on iPlayer for you to sneak under your desk.
Tuesday presents another four fixtures, with Lionel Messi’s Argentina taking on Saudi Arabia in the first fixture of what is almost certainly the PSG maestro’s final World Cup (10:00 ITV). Look out for the South American champions as they are one of the favourites to lift the trophy, and the bang-in-form Messi will not be letting go of this opportunity lightly. Denmark v Tunisia is the next match of the day and kicks off at 13:00 on ITV, with Mexico v Poland following in the 16:00 slot and France v Australia at 19:00 (Both on BBC).
Wednesday sees more of the world heavyweights getting involved with Morocco taking on 2018’s finalists Croatia at 10:00 (ITV) before four-time title winners Germany face Japan at 13:00 (ITV). Helping to make up the group of death alongside Germany and Japan, 2010’s champions Spain play Costa Rica at 16:00 on ITV and will be in real need of starting the tournament strongly to guarantee qualification. The final game of the day is between the world number two, Belgium, and Canada, and will be broadcast on BBC (19:00).
Switzerland and Cameroon get Thursday into gear, clashing at 10:00 (ITV), with Uruguay facing South Korea at 13:00 (BBC). Ghana faces off with the great Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in what is very likely to be his last World Cup, though he has confirmed he aims to play in at least one more major tournament after Qatar. That gets underway at 16:00 on ITV. Taking us through to Friday, Brazil come up against a very strong Serbia, who will fancy their chances of escaping the group and maybe even getting a result from the tournament favourites and five-time winners (19:00, BBC).
On Friday morning, Wales take on Iran in their second game of the group stages at 10:00 (BBC) and will be hoping for a win against arguably their easiest opponent of Group B. The highest-ranked African nation and champions of the continent, Senegal, play Qatar at 13:00 (BBC), and Netherlands take on Ecuador at 16:00 (ITV). England’s most anticipated game of the group stages will then be the focus of the country at 19:00 as they take on the mighty USA at the Al Bayt Stadium (ITV).
Saturday begins with Tunisia v Australia at 10:00 (BBC) before Poland clash with Saudi Arabia at 13:00 (ITV). Has Robert Lewandowski got what it takes to win the golden boot? One of the highlights of the group stages, France v Denmark, kicks off at 16:00 (ITV), and Argentina v Mexico closes out the evening at 19:00 (TV)
If you’re not sick of international football after a jam-packed week, we won’t be surprised because it only gets better from here!
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.