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Germany to face Spain at World Cup

By AFP - Apr 02,2022 - Last updated at Apr 02,2022

Former German footballer Lothar Matthaus displays the name of Germany during the draw for the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar, on Friday (AFP photo by Franck Fife)

DOHA — Germany and Spain will clash at this year’s World Cup after Friday’s glitzy draw ceremony in Doha placed the two former winners in the same group, while geopolitical rivals the United States and Iran were also drawn together.

Four-time winners Germany were in Pot Two, making them the obvious team to avoid for the top seeds in the Qatari capital. They were knocked out in 2018 in Russia in the group stage.

Germany and 2010 world champions Spain are joined by Japan in Group E, which will be completed by the winner of an intercontinental play-off in June between Costa Rica and New Zealand.

“It was obviously the hardest draw from the second pot, especially now that they have changed coach,” said Spain boss Luis Enrique of facing Germany.

“Let’s just enjoy it for now and try to be optimistic.”

Spain won 6-0 when the teams last met in November 2020, but Germany have improved since Hansi Flick replaced Joachim Loew as coach.

“We’re confident, we’re going to have a good tournament,” said Germany’s Bayern Munich goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer.

Iran and the United States — who have had no formal diplomatic relations since 1980 — last met at the 1998 World Cup in France when the Iranians won the politically-charged game 2-1 in Lyon.

“Football transcends a lot of the political stuff and we are able to remain friends on the pitch,” insisted USA coach Gregg Berhalter.

England is also in Group B and will face Iran in their opening game on the tournament’s first day, on November 21.

Gareth Southgate’s side might also come up against neighbours Wales or Scotland, although Ukraine could also take the last spot in the European play-offs, to be decided in June.

At their first World Cup, hosts Qatar will face Ecuador in the opening game at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor.

Qatar will also take on African champions Senegal and The Netherlands, who missed out in 2018, in Group A.

Reigning champions France will meet familiar foes Denmark and Tunisia in Group D, which will be completed by the winners of an intercontinental play-off, Australia, Peru or the United Arab Emirates.

France and England would be on a collision course to clash in the quarter-finals if they top their groups.

Record five-time winners Brazil will play Serbia and Switzerland — two teams they already met in their group four years ago — as well as Cameroon in a tough-looking Group G.

Two-time champions Argentina drew Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in Group C.

 

Last chance for Messi and Ronaldo?

 

It might be Lionel Messi’s last chance to win a World Cup as he turns 35 in June.

The same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be approaching 38 when Portugal come up against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, was drawn with Belgium and Morocco in Group F, which is completed by a Canada side back at the World Cup after 36 years.

This will be the first World Cup held in November and December, the move from the usual June and July slot necessary because of the extreme heat in Qatar at that time of year.

Europe’s leading leagues will play on the weekend of November 12-13 before players head to Qatar, leaving little time for national teams to prepare.

“Players will be fresher than they normally would be at a World Cup, but the lack of time is a handicap, albeit it is the same for everyone,” said Luis Enrique.

Friday’s event in Doha was attended by 2,000 guests, and featured former World Cup winners Cafu and Lothar Matthaeus among the draw assistants.

British actor Idriss Elba was one of the presenters, while there was an appearance on stage from the Egyptian actress Sherihan.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was in attendance.

“I feel proud and happy that the world will see Qatar as we promised. We will provide an exceptional World Cup in our Arab world,” he said during a short speech.

 

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