The groups for the Qatar World Cup in November were drawn yesterday. Whilst there are some playoff places that are still undecided, today we will take a look at the groups, and see how many Premier League players are in each group.
The host country Qatar were automatically put into group A out of pot 1, and they were joined by 2010 finalists Netherlands, reigning African champions and Ecuador, who last made the World Cup in 2014. This group looks quite even, with Netherlands looking like the favourites, but every team capable of suprises.
Qatar is the only team in this group without any Premier League players, with their squad having all of their players from the Qatar Stars League, the country’s top flight. Ecuador has only two players: youngsters Moisés Caicedo and Jeremy Sarmiento, who both represent Brighton. Both have struggled to get onto the field this season, having a combined total of 21 minutes in the Premier League. They also have former West Ham striker Enner Valencia, who represents Fenerbahce in Turkey.
Senegal beat Egypt dramatically in the qualifying playoff on penalties. They will have five Premier League players available to them, led by Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Chelsea’s starting goalkeeper Édouard Mendy. Other Premier League players in their squad are Leicester Nampalys Mendy, Crystal Palace’s Cheickhou Kouyate and Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr.
Netherlands might be seen as a favourite, but they are much closer to others than you might think. They missed out on both Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018, and got eliminated in the Round of 16 by Czech Republic in last year’s Euros. They have in total 17 players available from the Premier League, but they are unlikely to call up all. Their squad in this past international window included five Premier League players: Liverpool’s star centreback Virgil van Dijk, Manchester City’s Nathan Áke, Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul, Tottenham’s Steven Bergwjin and Burnley’s January signing Wout Weghorst. Notable absences were Brighton’s Joël Veltman and Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek, who joined Everton on loan.
Total: 24 Premier League players
UEFA path playoff (Ukraine/Scotland/Wales)
Probably the most interesting group of the World Cup sees England face off against the United States and Iran. The last place in the group is still undetermined due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine and thus they have been able to play their qualifying matches. Other teams in the playoff are Scotland and Wales, who both would have very intense matches with England.
England obviously has the most players in the Premier League with 262. Their latest squad had only one player outside of the Premier League, who was Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham.
United States come second out of the confirmed teams, with four players: led by the “LeBron James of soccer” Christian Pulisic, Norwich’s Josh Sargent and Jonathan Tomkinson, who doesn’t have any minutes for the first team so far, and Manchester City’s backup goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Their squad also includes two players from the Championship, Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath and Fulham’s Antonee Robinson, who is very likely to be playing in the Premier League when the World Cup kicks off in November. Iran has only one Premier League player, Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos, who has 434 minutes so far this season.
For the last spot, we have three different countries fighting for it. Scotland has the most Premier League players from them with 26, led by Liverpool’s Andy Robertson and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay. Wales have 14 players, most important of them being Tottenham’s Ben Davies. Ukraine, who everyone hopes will be able to play their qualification games, have three players: Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko, West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko and Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko.
Total: (minimum) 270 Premier League players
We will be taking a look at the other groups at a later date.