GROUP F MATCH SCHEDULE
Morocco vs Croatia
Belgium vs Canada
Belgium vs Morocco
Croatia vs Canada
Croatia vs Belgium
Canada vs Morocco
The Belgians have been considered one of the top favorites for several major tournaments in a row because of their incredibly star-studded roster. But time is running out. Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard are over 30 years old, so in Qatar they have one of the last chances to take the big trophy with the national team.
Age is the main reason for Roberto Martinez’s concern. Even Romelu Lukaku is already 29, although it seems quite recently the young forward was scoring for the Russian national team in Voronezh.
Belgium are extremely experienced and motivated. Of course, they are not the main favorite of the World Cup, but their getting to the finals will not surprise anyone.
Before this year, Canada had participated in the World Cup only once – in 1986, it had lost all of its matches and never scored. Now the North American team is expected to score goals and even win. Bayern Munich defender Alfonso Davis and Lille scorer Jonathan David will lead the team and try to get Canada its first points in history.
In four years, the Maple Leafs will surely be aiming for a group exit at their home World Cup, but making the playoffs now would be a surprise.
Four years ago, the Moroccan team was seriously fighting to get out of the group with Spain and Portugal, but now its chances of success are slim. In August, the eminent Vahid Halilhodzic was replaced as head coach by local specialist Walid Regraghi, and so far he has played only a couple of games in his new position.
A plus for the national team is the return of main star Hakim Ziyesh, who had a conflict with Halilhodzic. But is it a plus, given that the Chelsea midfielder has played disastrously little this season and has not scored once?
The vice-champions of the world are making a seamless transition and are in great shape for the World Cup: Zlatko Dalic’s team won their Nations League group, with four victories in their last four games. Luka Modric will traditionally lead the attacks, while Ivan Perisic will complete them. Russian soccer fans will have some players to cheer for: Zenit defender Dejan Lovren and former CSKA midfielder Nikola Vlasic are in the squad.
Croatia have a good chance of making the group, but are likely to face Spain or Germany next. Will it advance to the quarterfinals? Question.