The draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been made, and England’s path to glory has been mapped out – but who stands between Gareth Southgate’s side and the greatest prize of all?
After reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and losing on penalties to Italy in the final of Euro 2020, England are bidding to reach successive tournament finals in Qatar – and go one, huge step further by winning a first trophy since 1966.
England must navigate three group-stage matches and then three knockout games to have any chance of getting their hands on the World Cup in the final in Doha on December 18, 2022. Here’s the Three Lions’ route to the final…
England potentially face a first-ever ‘Battle of Britain’ at a World Cup finals.
The Three Lions will be up against either Scotland, Wales, or Ukraine in the group stage in Qatar, with that play-off path still to be settled in June due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Gareth Southgate’s men will kick off Group B on the tournament’s opening day against Iran, a side they have never faced in a senior competitive international.
They will also face the United States, who they have met twice in the World Cup finals – in 1950 and 2010 – failing to win on either occasion.
England have never faced Scotland or Wales at a World Cup finals but do have recent European Championship experience against the fellow Home Nations, drawing 0-0 with Scotland in the group stages of Euro 2020, and beating Wales 2-1 in the group stages of Euro 2016.
Round of 16
If England were to win Group B, their round-of-16 tie would take place at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, on December 4 and see the Three Lions paired against runners up in Group A – Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, or Netherlands.
Fail to win the group and Group A winners – likely the Netherlands or African champions Senegal – would be England’s first opposition in the knockout phase, with that round-of-16 tie taking place at the Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan on December 3.
Group winners England would then face world champions France in the quarter-finals, providing the 2018 World Cup winners topped their group and overcame potentially Argentina, Mexico or Poland in the last 16.
The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor would play host to England for the second successive round, with the last-eight tie taking place on December 10 .
England would continue their journey on the other side of the draw as Group B runners-up and could be paired with Argentina or Denmark at the quarter-final stage. The Three Lions would switch venues to the Lusail Iconic Stadium for the last-eight tie on December 9.
If England were to navigate their way to the semi-finals as group winners, the likely winners of Groups F and H – Belgium or Portugal – could stand between the Three Lions and a place in the World Cup final on December 14 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
England’s journey to the World Cup semi-finals after finishing second in the group stages would potentially set up a last-four tie against Spain/Germany or Brazil.
After reaching the World Cup final as group winners, 2010 winners Spain, 2014 champions Germany or four-time winners Brazil could be the final hurdle for England to overcome.
France, Belgium or Portugal would be England’s potential opponents were they to reach the final at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on December 18 after finishing runners-up in Group B.
2022 World Cup draw
- Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
- Group B: England, Iran, USA, European play-off*
- Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
- Group D: France, Intercontinental play-off 1*, Denmark, Tunisia
- Group E: Spain, Intercontinental play-off 2*, Germany, Japan
- Group F: Belgium, Ghana, Morocco, Croatia
- Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
- Group H: Portugal, Canada, Uruguay, South Korea
* European play-off – Wales/Scotland/Ukraine
**Intercontinental play-off 1 – United Arab Emirates/Australia/Peru
***Intercontinental play-off 2 – Costa Rica/New Zealand
When and where is the 2022 World Cup?
The 2022 World Cup is taking place in Qatar in the winter months rather than the usual summer ones, due to the heat.
The tournament kicks off on Monday, November 21 at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor with a match that will feature the host country.
The final will be played at the Lusail Stadium in Doha a week before Christmas on Sunday, December 18.
What is the World Cup format and schedule?
The 2022 World Cup will feature 32 teams in eight groups of four.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stage, which will run over a 12-day period and see winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16.
Matches will only be assigned to particular venues after the finals draw, so organisers can choose optimal kick-off times to suit television audiences in different countries, as well as supporters out in Qatar.
Unlike at Euro 2020, there will be a third-place play-off game on December 17.
Group stage: November 21-December 2
Round of 16: December 3-6
Quarter-finals: December 9/10
Semi-finals: December 13/14
Final: December 18
When will the matches kick off?
FIFA has confirmed the first two rounds of matches will kick off at 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm local time (10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm in the United Kingdom).
Kick-off times in the final round of group games and knock-out round matches will be at 6pm and 10pm local time (3pm and 7pm UK time).
The final is scheduled to kick off at 6pm local time (3pm UK time)
What are the venues?
The group games will take place across eight stadia: Al Bayt Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Lusail Stadium, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Education City Stadium and Al Janoub Stadium.