World Cup Group fixtures: Our top picks

Sunday 20 November 2022 10:46

The 2022 World Cup is arguably one of the most open we have seen, with several clubs in with a chance of glory in Qatar this winter.

The likes of Argentina and Brazil represent the South American favourites, while the likes of France and England are among the numerous European sides who look strong this year.

Such competition within the different groups will undoubtedly throw up some mouthwatering clashes, with the likes of Spain and Germany in Group E, as well as UK rivals England and Wales in Group B.

Ahead of the tournament curtain-raiser between Qatar and Ecuador at 16:00 GMT on Sunday 20 November, our writers offered their thoughts on which group-stage fixture - featuring United players - they are most keen to see...

United at the World Cup: Group-stage guide


Which Reds have been picked by their countries and when can you see them in action?

Adam Marshall

There was a time when the first sight of Brazil at a World Cup finals was truly a magical experience. It was a chance to get acquainted with players you had heard great things about never actually seen. And they rarely disappointed.

It is often said that when colour TV was around in time for the 1970 finals, the bright yellow shirts brought their football to life even more for the viewing public. I’m not quite old enough to remember that vintage but, in 1982, watching a team I could still reel off name-by-name was such a thrill as they racked up 15 goals in five games but still went on in an all-time classic tie with Italy.

They remain one of the best sides I’ve ever seen and form part of a legacy that the 2022 version will find hard to live up to but who won’t be dazzled by the Selecao’s skills come Thursday? The thing is I quite rate Serbia too, a nation more than capable of being dark horses, and tough-as-teak opening opponents for the South Americans.

It’s a night game, the pressure will be intense and the world will be watching. If it’s not too cliched, flair and artistry against excellent organisation and full-on commitment could make for fascinating viewing.
Mikey Partington

There’s a handful of intriguing group-stage contests involving our Reds and I’m very much drawn towards Portugal v Uruguay as it’s likely to have a key bearing on the outcome of Group H. But I’m going to go for another potentially group-defining clash that could see our Reds go head-to-head with each other.

France versus Denmark is nothing new in recent history - the sides faced one another at Russia 2018 and twice already this year in the Nations League - but it’s a fixture that therefore has a building storyline around it. The Danes, against the odds, defeated Les Bleus home and away in those matches just a few months back and the sides couldn’t be separated in the group stage four years ago, even though France would go on to lift the trophy.

I’m eager to see if Denmark can add another success to their recent run or if the French side will bite back in their defence of the competition. The potential of Raphael Varane and Christian Eriksen going up against each other in close proximity of course makes it all the more fascinating, as does the quality of both sides entering the tournament. Bring it on!

Is Varane winning his fitness battle?


Raphael was seen working intently during France’s first session in Qatar, as they prepare for their World Cup opener.

Joe Nelson

In the second round of World Cup group-stage fixtures, Argentina face Mexico. United's Lisandro Martinez is expected to feature in this match, and I for one cannot wait.

Mexico have long impressed on the global stage, proving difficult customers for any side with their relentless energy and attacking talent. While this World Cup will not see former Red Chicharito Hernandez leading the line for Mexico, the likes of Napoli winger Hirving Lozano and Wolves striker Raul Jimenez will undoubtedly pose a threat.

Argentina are one for the favourites for the competition, with this World Cup being tipped as Lionel Messi's last chance to lift it. The 2021 Copa America champions look dangerous, and too have much energy all over the pitch. It will be intriguing to see both of these sides lock horns, in what I hope will be a fast-paced and entertaining encounter.

Who will top the eight World Cup groups?


Make your predictions for Groups A to H now and see what fellow United fans are thinking!

Joe Ganley

Meetings between the home nations are always exciting and highly charged, and England v Wales in Qatar will undoubtedly be special. Not just because of the countries' close relationship, but also because there's a very good chance that the Welsh – taking part in their first World Cup since 1958 – could cause a shock result.

It's only six years since a late Daniel Sturridge goal turned a close, dramatic game between the two sides in England's favour at the European Championship, and the Three Lions are in another moment of uncertainty right now.

Without a win in six games heading into Qatar, they will need to be at their clinical best to defeat a motivated, well-grooved Wales side with a clear plan that's been honed over many years. Keep your eye on this one.