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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Qatar 2022: How Will Canada Fare at the World Cup?

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In recent years, Canada has been noticeably absent at the World Cup Finals, never making it through the qualifying rounds. But now, after 36 years of absence, the Maple Leafs made the cut for the finals of the World Cup 2022.

But reaching the finals is just the first step; how much further can the team go? Here’s a closer look at what awaits Canada in Qatar and what the popular betting markets on the World Cup 2022 suggest will be their fate.

Tough Draw

Currently ranked 43rd in the world by FIFA, Canada was never going to get an easy draw in Qatar. However, it’s worth pointing out that a ranking of 43 is pretty good compared to previous years for Canada; their average FIFA ranking is a lowly 79. In 2016, Canada was ranked 117th by FIFA, so in the last six years, the Maple Leafs have worked very hard to claw their way up.

Despite the improvement, a ranking of 43 meant that Canada was always going to face the prospect of some pretty tough teams – and unfortunately, the draw wasn’t kind.

Drawn in Group F, Canada will face Belgium, Croatia and Morocco, three tough teams. Although the quality of their opponents has been acknowledged, there remains a genuine expectation that Canada could progress to the knock-out rounds. Realistic or just a pipe dream? We’re going to delve into that next.

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Chances of Progression

The beauty of soccer is that upsets regularly happen, so it’s never inconceivable that an underdog might pull off a shock result. However, Belgium and Croatia both have strong soccer pedigrees, so getting a result against either of these teams could be a kick of the ball too far.

Just to underline the weight of the challenge, let’s examine the FIFA World rankings. Belgium are number 2 in the world, only bettered by Brazil, while Croatia are an impressive 15th.

Morocco doesn’t have the same track record as either Belgium or Croatia, but are sitting pretty at 22nd in the world rankings.

But rankings don’t tell the full story. Belgium are prone to underperforming, and Croatia are a pale shadow of their previous form. This means that despite the high rankings, with determination and the right tactics, both teams are possible to beat.

The good news for Canada is that manager John Herdman is a master tactician. He’s built a squad that’s capable of playing in different ways, able to adapt to the opposition on the field.

Both Belgium and Croatia will have ageing squads, making them vulnerable to a fast counter-attack. Herdman is likely to set up Canada to hit both teams on the break, soaking up pressure and defending deep. Canada’s strength is their strike force, and although the matches on paper look impossible, the unique qualities of the squad mean there is a real chance.

Of course, there’s still Morocco to face, and they’re no mean feat either. With a much younger squad, they won’t tire as quickly, but they lack experience and have barely scraped through some of their recent matches.

Does Canada dare to dream that they might progress? On the basis of this, it seems as if they have a very real chance…

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