World Cup Day 4 Preview

By Chidi Nwoke, Abuja.

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On Day 4 of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, Voice of Nigeria previews the upcoming fixtures scheduled to take place on Wednesday, with Morocco set to take on Croatia while Belgium faces Canada in Group F, and the mighty Germany up against Japan, with Spain challenging Costa Rica in the other Group E encounter.

On Day 3, favourites Argentina were beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia, while defending champions France claimed a 4-1 victory against Australia. They were also two goalless draws as Tunisia held Denmark, while Robert Lewandowski’s penalty miss saw Poland draw with Mexico.

Morocco Vs Croatia

The Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup would be the first encounter between Africans Morocco and Europeans Croatia in the most prestigious football competition in the world, scheduled to take place at 11am (Nigerian Time), at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar.

While Belgium sees itself as coming out on top of Group F, there is plenty of potential for Croatia and Morocco to make it to the next round.

Ranked 22nd, Morocco, led by Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech, head into this competition on a five-match unbeaten streak. However, the last time the Atlas Lions won a World Cup match was in 1998, a 3-0 win over Scotland.

The team is hoping to make its mark in Qatar, boosted by the return of Ziyech who announced his international retirement in February 2022 after falling out with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

For Croatia, this will be the first World Cup fixture since losing to France in the final four years ago. They crashed out of the Euro 2020 last-16 after losing to Spain 5-3, but have won 15 out of the last 16 games.

They will need to rely on the form of midfield maestro Luka Modric of Real Madrid to give them a lot more in attack if they are to go far in the competition.

Belgium Vs Canada

Belgium will take on Canada at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, by 8pm (Nigerian Time).

Over the past few years, Belgium have been in good form with its team of stars. They lost to eventual champions France in the 2018 World Cup and to Italy in the quarterfinal of the Euros last year.

They have won each of their six group matches in the past two World Cups, but could struggle this year in a group featuring 2018 finalists Croatia, Morocco and Canada. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and talisman Kevin de Bruyne will be key for Belgium to have any chance of progressing out of Group F.

Canada’s Maple Leafs have arrived in Doha full of hope. This will be only their second World Cup appearance – the first since 1986. The Maple Leafs secured their spot in the tournament in style, winning eight of their 14 games in the CONCACAF qualifiers, defeating heavyweights Mexico and USA.

Bayern Munich full-back Alphonso Davies is the star of Canada, while Lille striker Jonathan David will also be looking cause trouble for Belgium’s defence.

Germany Vs Japan

On Wednesday in front of 40,000 fans at the Khalifa International Stadium, Germany will take on Japan in what promises to be a thrilling encounter by 2pm (Nigerian Time).

Germany has won the World Cup four times and would be looking to add a fifth in their year’s competition, featuring stars like Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and more.

However, Japan could threaten the Germans as they would seek to cause an upset on the world stage. Japan are the highest-ranked Asian team at the tournament, and many of the youngsters in their squad are competing for national glory and aiming to put on a show for the world.

Japan’s attack features Daichi Kamada, Kaoru Mitoma, and Takumi Minamino. A win for Japan would be quite an upset, but if they are to make it through to the round of 16, Coach Hajime Moriyasu’s men are going to have to take all their chances against the Germans.

Spain Vs Costa Rica

Spain will face Costa Rica at the by 5pm (Nigerian Time), at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Neither team performed well at the last World Cup, with Costa Rica finishing bottom of its group with only one point and Spain losing to Russia in the last 16. Both sides will want to make up for that in Qatar.

Under manager Luis Enrique, Spain have enjoyed a strong run of form recently, topping their UEFA Nations League group and picking up a big win against Portugal in September. The team includes a mix of young promising players such as 18-year-old Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri.

For Costa Rica, the South American nation will be looking to repeat its heroic performance at the 2014 World Cup, where they defied the odds and topped a group that included three World Cup winners: Uruguay, England and Italy.

This year, they have been drawn against Germany, Spain and Japan in a difficult group. Costa Rica will face a tough task up front, with the 30-year-old forward Joel Campbell facing the likes of Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal and Barcelona’s Eric Garcia in defence.

 

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