With nearly all the qualification places at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ having now been filled, expectation is mounting ahead of Friday’s Final Draw. Every team going into the hat could be drawn against nations they have never faced in the world finals before. FIFA has drawn up a list of these potential first-time encounters, starting with a meeting between two European giants.
The reigning two-time world champions head into their 16th World Cup as one of the eight teams in Pot 1, which contains the highest-ranked sides. Surprisingly, France have never been drawn against three-time runners-up Netherlands, who have ten World Cup appearances to their name. The Dutch are in Pot 2, and a potential duel with the French would be one of the most eagerly-awaited games of the group phase. This is a fixture with some history to it. Runners-up at the two previous world finals, Netherlands missed out on a place at Spain 1982 altogether when they finished behind France and Belgium in Group 2 of the European qualifiers. History repeated itself in the race to Russia 2018, when the Dutch again failed to progress after placing third behind France and Sweden in Group A of the preliminaries.
Qatar 2022 will be World Cup number 18 for Argentina, who could find themselves in the same group as Denmark, who will be making their sixth appearance in the competition. Many had hoped the two would meet in the semi-finals at Mexico 1986 following the Danes’ impressive showing in the group stage. As it turned out, however, Denmark went down 5-1 to Spain in the Round of 16. The two did meet in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1995, with the Europeans winning 2-0.
A Seleção, who have never missed a World Cup, and are preparing for their 22nd in a row, are another side who could be facing new opposition in Qatar, namely Korea Republic, soon-to-be 11-time participants.
Lurking in Pot 2 will be Germany, a team that every Pot 1 side will be anxious to avoid. With 19 World Cups already under their belts, the Germans could be pitched against Japan, who are in Pot 3, having qualified for a seventh time.
One of the eight top seeds, Belgium might find themselves drawn against Cameroon for the first time ever. The Africans are in the finals for the eighth time, while the Europeans are making their 14th appearance.
Qatar 2022 is also World Cup number 14 for two-time winners Uruguay, who are in Pot 2. Potentially awaiting them are Poland from Pot 3, who have never faced the Uruguayans before, despite this being their ninth world finals.
The Final Draw could also throw up a latest installment or two in some of the World Cup’s most frequent fixtures, with Germany facing the prospect of taking on Argentina or Serbia for the seventh time in the competition. Netherlands could cross swords with Argentina or Brazil for the sixth time in World Cup history, while mouth-watering encounters such as Brazil-Serbia and England-Germany could also be on the menu again, also for a sixth time.
Most frequent clashes
* Only involves nations qualified for Qatar 2022.