The World Cup draw for this year’s 2022 tournament takes place this Friday, April 1st from the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar. The draw will be as unique as this year’s World Cup, which will be the first tournament in its 92-year history to take place during the winter months of November and December. This unique world cup draw will consist of 37 teams, five of which will not be included in the tournament when it kicks off on November 21st.
Due to COVID-19 and the ongoing war in Ukraine, the three-year qualifying competition for this year’s world cup has been delayed by almost three months. Even so, the World Cup draw will go on as planned on Friday but will include placeholder spots for teams that have still yet to qualify for the international football tournament.
World Cup Draw Most Unique in Tournaments’ 92-year History
Despite this year’s World Cup draw taking place on Friday, the full fixture lineup will not be known until atleast June 14th, when the international pre-tournament playoff round wraps up in Qatar. With this, two of the balls being drawn from pot four on Friday will represent “Peru or Australia or the United Arab Emirates.” With another representing “Ukraine or Wales or Scotland.”
World Cup Draw Favors Host Qatar
As the host nation, Qatar will be the top-seeded team in Group A and will take the position of A1 in the condensed schedule of 64 matches in just 28 days. Qatar is ranked number 52 in the world, however, the privilege of being the top-seeded team is given to all host nations.
Even still, Qatar is an exception among any modern World Cup host. As Qatar’s national football team has never qualified for any single FIFA World Cup tournament since the country’s independence in 1971. The country will make its World Cup debut in the opening game of this year’s World Cup on Monday, November 21st.
With Qatar drawing the number one seed, the 2019 Asian Cup winner avoids the world’s top-ranked teams seeded one to seven, including Brazil, Belgium, France, Argentina, England, Spain, and Portugal. Each of those teams will be drawn out of Pot one and split into separate groups from B to H.
How the World Cup Draw Works
Each seeding pot is filled according to FIFA rankings, which will be updated on Thursday after the continental qualifying round concludes. Seeds one to seven will be split into separate groups from B to H, and seeds eight to fifteen will split into separate groups from A to H. The next two pots will include the lower-ranked teams that have qualified in the tournament, including Canada, who will be slotted into pot four, despite leading the North American qualifying group.
The classic pot drawing format becomes complicated with the delay of three playoff entries, which will not be decided until June. Ukraine, which is unable to field a team due to the ongoing Russian invasion, can still qualify for the tournament with a win in the playoff round. Meanwhile, the 2018 tournament host Russia was thrown out of the qualifying stages by FIFA as punishment for its country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The situation caused by this delay, and the subsequent removal of one team from qualifying will cause higher-ranked playoff teams such as Peru and Wales to face being seeded lower than their true level.
World Cup Draw Based on Geography
For various reasons, geography limits potential match-ups in the World Cup draw. Teams that are from the same continent generally can not go into the same group. Some European teams can go into the same group, while others, due to regional tensions, can not be placed into the same groups.
Europe has 13 teams slotted into the 31 qualifying positions, five groups will get two European teams, and the other three groups will each get one. This means that 2014 World Cup winner Germany, can end up in the same group as 2018 defending World Cup champion France.
World Cup Draw Creates Fixture Advantage
The World Cup draw on Friday will slate each of the thirty-one teams across eight groups of four. The top teams in each group will advance as the top seeds to the round of sixteen.
A team’s path to the finals in the knockout round is defined based on their seeding. The winner of Group A will face the Group B runner-up, while the winner of Group B will face the Group A runner-up. Based on the formatting, teams that are placed from the same group, will not meet again until the finals.
With this year’s World Cup being four days shorter than the 2018 World Cup in Russia, there is a distinct advantage to landing in a higher slated group. Teams in Group A or B will start on November 21st, while teams in Group G or H will not start until November 24th, which means three fewer days of rest for the lower seeded teams.
The Winner of Group G will be forced to play seven games in just twenty-five days in order to win the World Cup. That team will also have just two full days of rest between their final group stage match-up, and the round of sixteen.
This year’s World Cup schedule is condensed because of the tournament being held in the months of November and December, which is traditionally a peak period for the European domestic leagues. The top European leagues will play up until November 13th, which is just eight days before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar.
The World Cup draw takes place on Friday afternoon from Doha, Qatar.