World Cup qualifying reaching its climax

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The lineup of teams at the World Cup in Russia will be confirmed over the next week.

Here’s a look at the two-leg European and intercontinental playoffs matches, as well as how African qualifying is shaping up:

NORTHERN IRELAND vs. SWITZERLAND

Northern Ireland is within reach of its first World Cup in 32 years after hitting its target of second place in a group won by defending champion Germany.

Switzerland, ranked No. 4 in August, finds itself in a tense playoff despite nine straight wins to start qualifying.

On Monday, Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic was still looking back to the 2-0 loss at Portugal last month, saying he had imagined playing a “nice friendly” game this week. He acknowledged his team was too passive against Portugal, and challenged players he did not identify to take more responsibility now.

The Swiss need to forget about that match before the first leg Thursday at Windsor Park, where only Germany has beaten Northern Ireland in a competitive match in the past four years.

Switzerland has a nine-game winning streak at home in tournament qualifiers, and hosts the return on Sunday in Basel.

CROATIA vs. GREECE

Greece is bidding to reach a major tournament again after an embarrassing qualification campaign for the 2016 European Championship.

Without defender Kostas Manolas, who is banned from the first leg, the Greeks will play at Croatia on Thursday and then host the return match on Sunday.

Manolas is out because FIFA suspended him for trying to manipulate his disciplinary record by deliberately earning a yellow card against Cyprus on Oct. 7. The decision compounded problems for coach Michael Skibbe, who is missing midfielder Petros Mantalos and striker Tasos Donis because of injury.

Croatia is set to miss defensive midfielder Milan Badelj�for both matches against Greece.

The Croatians and the Greeks were in the playoffs for the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Croatia eliminated Iceland 2-0 on aggregate, while Greece beat Romania 4-2 on aggregate.

SWEDEN vs. ITALY

Four-time champion Italy has participated in every World Cup since failing to qualify for the 1958 tournament, which coincidentally was held in Sweden.

But Italy has showed poor form recently, ever since a 3-0 loss to Spain in September. After that match, Italy edged Israel 1-0, drew 1-1 with Macedonia and beat Albania 1-0.

While Sweden didn’t qualify for the last two World Cups, it impressed in qualifying with a win over France and finished ahead of the Netherlands.

“We are winners just by being here,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said.

The first leg will be in Sweden on Friday, with the return match on Monday in Italy.

Sweden went unbeaten at home in qualifying at Friends Arena and striker Marcus Berg scored eight times in nine matches.

DENMARK vs. IRELAND

Being in the playoffs for a major tournament is nothing new for Ireland.

This will be the team’s ninth time, and they have lost five of them – including against France ahead of the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal.

The first leg will be in Denmark on Saturday. Ireland will host the second leg on Tuesday.

Ireland has effectively already won one playoff – by beating Wales 1-0 in its final qualifier – and will likely rely on the counterattacking tactics that worked so well in Cardiff.

While there are no real stars in the Ireland team, Denmark has a standout in Christian Eriksen – one of European soccer’s best playmakers over the past few years at Tottenham. He scored eight times from midfield in qualifying.

The Danes’ 4-0 win over Poland in group play highlights their potential and they are also higher in the FIFA rankings, at No. 19 compared to Ireland’s No. 26.

The managers – Martin O’Neill and Age Hareide – are former teammates at English club Norwich.

AUSTRALIA vs. HONDURAS

This is the scenario Australia aimed to avoid when it switched from Oceania to the Asian Football Confederation after the 2006 World Cup: A last-ditch intercontinental playoff in the Americas for a spot at soccer’s marquee event.

Australian players traveled from three continents to assemble in Honduras this week to prepare for Friday’s first leg. The return match will be in Australia on Wednesday.

It was a similar scenario when the Australians played Uruguay for a place at the 2006 tournament. Uruguay won 1-0 in Montevideo, and Australia leveled it up with a 1-0 win in Sydney before advancing 4-2 on penalties. It ended a long drought for the Socceroos, who had failed to advance from the last playoff stage in 1986 (against Scotland), in 1994 (against Argentina), in 1998 (against Iran), and in 2002 (against Uruguay).

Tim Cahill, the only player still active from that playoff series in 2005 and now Australia’s all-time leading scorer, is in doubt because of an ankle injury.

NEW ZEALAND vs. PERU

New Zealand will return to the scene of one of its greatest triumphs when it hosts Peru on Saturday.

In 2009, New Zealand beat Bahrain 1-0 in front of a crowd of 35,000 at the Wellington Regional Stadium to qualify for the World Cup for the second time. It had previously qualified in 1982, the same year in which Peru made its last World Cup appearance.

The return leg will be in Peru on Wednesday.

Rory Fallon, who scored New Zealand’s winning goal in that match eight years ago, has been recalled to the All Whites after a one-year absence. He is currently playing for Dorchester in the seventh tier of English soccer. That win over Bahrain briefly put soccer center-stage in a rugby-mad country and Saturday’s match will likely do so again. The match is a sellout.

Peru, ranked No. 10, starts as the overwhelming favorite against 122nd-ranked New Zealand but have a significant setback, with striker Paolo Guerrero ruled out after failing a doping test. Guerrero scored six goals in qualifying.

AFRICA

Africa’s last three World Cup places will be decided on the final group games in qualifying, when Ivory Coast could miss out and Congo could qualify for the first time since 1974.

Two of the five groups are settled, with Nigeria and Egypt already through.

Tunisia and Congo will tussle for a place from Group A. Tunisia has a three-point advantage, so Congo needs to beat Guinea and hope Tunisia loses at home to Libya. If that happens, the World Cup place will go to the team with the best goal difference.

Morocco and Ivory Coast face a straight shootout in Group C when Morocco travels to Abidjan. Ivory Coast must win to sneak through to the World Cup and deny former coach Herve Renard, now with Morocco.

Senegal can seal its place on Friday in a contentious qualifier against South Africa, a game ordered by FIFA to be played again because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal lost the initial game but if it wins on its second chance, it’ll be through to the World Cup.

That will lead to serious discontent from the other teams. Burkina Faso, hoping to go to the World Cup for the first time, has already appealed against FIFA’s decision.

Iran vs USA: How to watch live, USMNT stream link, team news

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The United States men’s national team seeks a return to the knockout rounds and that’ll only come with a win over Iran at 2pm ET Saturday inside Al Thumama Stadium in Al Khor.

STREAM LIVE IRAN vs USA

It doesn’t matter what Wales does vs England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan because England already has four points and a draw would give Iran four as well.

The Yanks’ two draws mandate a win-or-go-home mentality on Saturday and there are multiple generations worth of redemption up for grabs after the USMNT was felled by Iran at the 1998 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2018 tourney in Russia.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

How can Gregg Berhalter unlock the USMNT attack to get the goal or goals he’ll need to reach a date with Group B’s winner or runner-up?

Here is everything you need for Iran vs USA.


How to watch Iran vs USA live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Tuesday Nov. 29
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Iran, it’s about riding the momentum of a huge win after finding inspiration in a huge loss. There’s an ocean’s worth of difference in emotion between the 6-2 tournament-opening loss to England in Al Rayyan and the 2-0 triumph over Wales In the same city. Can Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun succeed where Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could not and break down the USMNT defense for a goal?

Meanwhile, the Yanks may still be lamenting a 1-1 draw with Wales as much as they are celebrating a strong performance that kept them unbeaten against England at the World Cup after a scoreless draw with Gareth Southgate’s men In Al Khor. Gregg Berhalter has to find a way to unlock the USMNT’s final-third woes when they hit Al Khor on Tuesday.


Iran quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

USA quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams

World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

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The World Cup 2022 schedule is locked in and the start to the tournament in Qatar has been sensational as action throughout November and December will capture the imagination of the world.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]

Saudi Arabia, Japan and Morocco have already pulled off huge upset wins over Argentina, Germany and Belgium respectively as the tournament has got off to a flying start.

From the USMNT drawing against England the day after Thanksgiving to Lionel Messi saving Argentina against Mexico in the group stages, Spain squaring off with Germany and upsets galore, there are plenty of intriguing games in the opening round.

[ MORE: World Cup rosters for all 32 teams ]

Then we have the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final to look forward to. Bring. It. On.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Below is the schedule in full, details on how to watch the games and everything else you need..

[ MORE: World Cup odds ]


World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

Group A schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Tuesday, November 29: Netherlands vs Qatar (preview) – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 10am
Tuesday, November 29: Ecuador vs Senegal (preview)–  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Group B schedule

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Tuesday, November 29: Wales vs England (preview) – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Tuesday November 29: Iran vs USA (preview) – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Group C schedule

Recap/highlights: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Mexico 0-0 Poland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Argentina 2-0 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Wednesday, November 30: Poland vs Argentina (preview) – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
Wednesday, November 30: Saudi Arabia vs Mexico (preview) – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Group D schedule

Recap/highlights: France 4-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Denmark 0-0 Tunisia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: France 2-1 Denmark – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 0-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Wednesday, November 30: Tunisia vs France –  Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Wednesday, November 30: Australia vs Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am

Group E schedule

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Spain 1-1 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Thursday, December 1: Japan vs Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Thursday, December 1: Costa Rica vs Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Group F schedule

Recap/highlights: Belgium 1-0 Canada – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Belgium 0-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Croatia 4-1 Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Thursday, December 1: Croatia vs Belgium (preview) – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Thursday, December 1: Canada vs Morocco (preview) – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 10am

Group G schedule

Recap/highlights: Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Monday, November 28: Brazil vs Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 11am
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 3-3 Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Friday, December 2: Cameroon vs Brazil – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
Friday, December 2: Serbia vs Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Group H schedule

Recap/highlights: Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Monday, November 28: Portugal vs Uruguay (preview) – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Friday, December 2: South Korea vs Portugal – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Friday, December 2: Ghana vs Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am


Round of 16 schedule

Match 49 – Saturday, December 3: Winner Group A vs Runners up Group B – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 50 – Saturday, December 3:  Winners Group C vs Runners up Group D – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm

Match 52 – Sunday, December 4: Winners Group D vs Runners up Group C – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 51 – Sunday, December 4: Winners Group B vs Runners up Group A – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Match 53 – Monday, December 5: Winners Group E vs Runners up Group F – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am

Match 54 – Monday, December 5: Winners Group G vs Runners up Group H – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Match 55 – Tuesday, December 6: Winners Group F vs Runners up Group E – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 56 – Tuesday, December 6: Winners Group H vs Runners up Group G – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm


Quarterfinal schedule

Match 58 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 53 vs Winners Match 54 – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 57 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 49 vs Winners Match 50 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Match 60 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 55 vs Winners Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 59 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 51 vs Winners Match 52 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Semifinal schedule

Match 61 – Tuesday, December 13: Winners Match 57 vs Winners Match 58 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Match 62 – Wednesday, December 14: Winners Match 59 vs Winners Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Third-place play-off

Match 63 – Saturday, December 17: Losers Match 61 vs Losers Match 62 – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm


Final

Match 64 – Sunday, December 18: Winners Match 61 vs Winners Match 62 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

World Cup 2022 Group A: Qatar, Senegal, Netherlands, Ecuador schedule, fixtures, rankings

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Group A in the 2022 World Cup will be intriguing, as hosts Qatar are joined by African champs Senegal, plus the Netherlands and Ecuador.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

This really is a wide-open group but the host nation got off to a terrible start as they were outclassed by Ecuador and Qatar are now out are losing to Senegal too.

There’s no doubting that the Netherlands and Senegal are the favorites to advance as Virgil van Dijk will lead the Dutch as they look to make up for missing the 2018 tournament, but Senegal are missing main man Sadio Mane through injury as they aim to better their best-ever finish of reaching the quarterfinals in 2002.

As for Ecuador, they look like an incredibly solid team who are set up very well to counter and proved that against Qatar.

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

Below is everything you need to know for 2022 World Cup Group A.


Group A schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands  – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Tuesday, November 29: Netherlands vs Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 10am
Tuesday, November 29: Ecuador vs Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

How To Watch Group A matches live

  • When: November 20-29, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group A table

1. Ecuador — 4 points (+2 GD)
2. Netherlands — 4 points (+2)
3. Senegal — 3 points (0)
4. Qatar — 0 (-2) – ELIMINATED


Qatar

Current FIFA world ranking: 49
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 0
How they qualified: As hosts
Coach: Felix Sanchez
Key players: Abdelkarim Hassan, Almoez Ali, Hassan Al-Haydos

Senegal

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly

Netherlands

Current FIFA world ranking: 8
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group G)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Key players: Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong

Ecuador

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan


World Cup 2022 Group B: England, USA, Iran, Wales schedule, fixtures, rankings

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With England, the USMNT, Wales and Iran placed together in Group B, this is an absolutely blockbuster group brimming with narratives.

Can the Three Lions take care of business with minimum fuss? Or will the USMNT, Wales and Iran cause upsets as their solid units all have talented attackers who can win a game in just one moment?

[ MORE: World Cup 2022 schedule, scores, hub ]

From Harry Kane leading England to Gareth Bale leading Wales’ charge to Christian Pulisic primed to push the USMNT towards the knockout rounds and Iran’s hopes pinned on prolific forward duo Azmoun and Taremi, this is going to be a tough group to call.

Many believe England are the favorites (especially after their big win against Iran in the opener) but Wales, the USMNT and Iran are very evenly matched (as the draw between the USA and Wales proved) and their world rankings — an average ranking of 15 if you combine all four teams — show just how tough this group will be.

Iran’s win against Wales has set up an incredible finale, as the USA know a win against Iran in their final group stage game sends them to the last 16. A win or draw for Iran sends them into the last 16, while England know a win against Wales wins them the group and anything other than a four-goal or more defeat to Wales sees them in the last 16.

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

Below is everything you need to know on World Cup 2022 Group B.


Group B schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Tuesday, November 29: Wales vs England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Tuesday November 29: Iran vs USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group B table

1. England – 4 points (+4 GD)
2. Iran – 3 points (-2)
3. USA – 2 points (0 GD)
4. Wales – 1 point (-2 GD)


England

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Pickford

USA

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams

Wales

Current FIFA world ranking: 19
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 1
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Rob Page
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies

Iran

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi