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Here is a countdown of top competitors, biggest names, tournament format, must-see games from group stages, and qualified stars injured by the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on their last chance, it’s anyone’s tournament now. French star Kylian Mbappé is back in the game after an injury layoff, competing for a title, while Brazil bids to break a world record in winning a sixth straight World Cup.

The World Cup season is underway, and Qatar will begin the tournament with a match against Russia on Sunday.

Thirty-two teams had been divided into 16 groups of four. At the end of the group stage, there were 12 places for each group winner and runner-up and four additional places for third and fourth place.

Now that league play has finished around the world, soccer fans have turned their attention to Qatar and the opening match of their World Cup against Ecuador.

Here are some things to watch for when the World Cup gets underway in a country known as the smallest on earth:

#1 Brazil: Is Brazil the favorite to win this year’s World Cup? It looks like it! Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, and others have turned their season around in time for a potential victory.

#2 Belgium: The Belgian squad is getting old, but Kevin De Bruyne has continued as the team’s star player. However, Romelu Lukaku remains a question mark coming into Euro 2016.

#3 Argentina: Buenos Aires held a massive party this past September following the announcement of Argentina’s presence in the World Cup courtesy of coach Lionel Scaloni. With in-form Messi leading the team on a record 35-match unbeaten run.

#4 France: The defending champions. Still the country with the most depth to its squad, despite an injury list that includes Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. Now with Mbappé and Karim Benzema leading the attack. No team has retained its World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.

#5 England: The team has hit a bad patch of form in recent major tournaments, but they have a strong track record in the World Cup and European Championship.

Big Players

Lionel Messi has always been celebrated for his astonishing soccer skills, but he has also been known for his mental toughness. With a World Cup win on his mind, this Argentinian is playing at an entirely different level and earning appreciation from soccer fans around the globe.

Cristiano Ronaldo, international soccer superstar: He has won the European Championship but remains the leading scorer for men’s international soccer. 

That being said, the Portugal star hasn’t played in a World Cup final in his career and doesn’t have much left to offer at Manchester United so take advantage of this tremendous opportunity while it lasts.

Kylian Mbappé of France is unstoppable at the FIFA World Cup. The talented striker is only 19 years old and has left a mark on all countries he has played against. He’s just getting better and may someday match Brazil legend Pelé in being a champion of both his first and second world cups.

Many are beginning to question whether Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium’s most prolific midfielder, can exorcise even a small sample of his overwhelming talent in Qatar. The World Cup will be looking forward to his arrival, and the Belgian sporting world won’t miss a beat either.

Neymar, Brazil: Often overshadowed by Mbappé and Messi at Paris Saint-Germain, he still leads his country in scoring. He’s also an untameable force on the pitch with a contagious personality. Watch him closely, and you’ll see him pull off some crazy tricks and create stuff out of thin air.

FIFA World Cup format

Football is an exciting sport that can be manipulated in many different ways. Eight groups of teams compete during the group stage, and the top two advance to the knockout phase.

There will be two sets of group games each day. In the first set, there will be four games back-to-back, followed by one game per group in the second set.

All 32 nations are guaranteed to play four group games. The knockout stage begins the day after the group stage ends, which means there will be no break for players in this Christmas tournament.

Must-see matches from group stages

The tournament’s first match is always great to take advantage of, on or off the calendar. It is Qatar vs. Ecuador on November 20

With Argentina Vs. Mexico set to battle on November 26; Leo Messi may seal his and the defending champs’ spot in the final 16.

As with all World Cups, the group stage at a World Cup is like a mini-tournament. Some great match-ups have been scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, with Spain taking on Germany in the day’s first game.

The “Mother of All Games” Part II will take place on November 29, 2022, when Iran and the United States meet in Group B of the World Cup. Diplomatic relations were restored in 1980 when they were severed during the Iranian Revolution.

Get your revenge on Ghana! Watch them take on Uruguay in the last minute of extra time and take home a win as if Suarez had never committed his handball.

Injured Players

Several of the world’s best players are dealing with an injury to make it to next week’s tournament.

France midfielders Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Germany forward Timo Werner, and England defender Reece James are definitely missing from the FIFA World Cup.

Some players carrying injuries but will still be in the squads are Lukaku, Son Heung-min, Mane, and Dybala.

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Nicki Minaj Ignores Backlash, Confirms 2022 Qatar World Cup Song 

Golam Muktadir, chief editor at Surprise Sports (Leading Sports News Website). He is sharing his World Cup Football thoughts, trending news, and real-time Qatar World Cup updates.

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