Liverpool World Cup Watch: Who’s going?

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Today marks November 14th, the deadline for national teams to submit their 26-man rosters for the 2022 World Cup. All nations have now obliged to do so, and our full player counts have been revealed. Rather surprisingly, only 7 Liverpool players will be heading to Qatar, 1 down from our total of 8 in 2018. However, if Diogo Jota wasn’t injured and Joel Matip didn’t choose to retire from international football at the age of 24, 9 players would be going, so it’s not that disappointing. The 7 players who will be heading from John Lennon Airport to Qatar are Virgil Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Alisson Becker, Fabinho, and Darwin Nunez. Here we take a look at each of those 7 players, their odds of playing, the teams they would play against, and their match-day times (in GMT).

Virgil Van Dijk

Will He Play?

To keep it simple: Yes. Netherlands have games once every 4 days in the group, more than enough time for a centre back to rest and be fully fit in time for the next one. Assuming the Netherlands stick with their traditional back 5, Van Dijk should be expected to start alongside two of the three of Jurrien Timber, Nathan Ake, Matthias De Ligt, and Stefan De Vrij. It’s most likely to be Ake and Timber or Ake and De Ligt, but Van Dijk has his spot cemented in stone.

How Far Will They Go?

There’s really no telling for this team. After they reached the semifinals in the 2014 World Cup, they failed to qualify for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, and were the victims of a Round of 16 upset by the Czech Republic at Euro 2020. They are very deep defensively, but their midfield and attack could be questioned, especially if Frenkie De Jong picks up an injury. They’d do poorly to be eliminated in a weak group consisting of Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar, but after that, their results are up in the air. The Netherlands definitely have the potential to make a run to the later stages, but they’ll require excellent performances in the knockout stages.

Group/Draw Overview

Netherlands got pretty lucky in terms of the draw. They ended up in Group A, which is a blessing in itself, because that means they drew Qatar (the worst team in the tournament) as ther Pot 1 team, the best draw imaginable. They recieved Senegal as a tough Pot 3, and Ecuador as an average Pot 4. They ended up with basically two Pot 4 teams, and one Pot 2.5.  They should look to finish first, where they would most likely face the United States, Iran, or Wales, whom they would hope to beat.

Group Stage Schedule

vs Senegal: Monday, November 21st, 4:00PM

vs Ecuador: Friday, November 25th: 4:00PM

vs Qatar: Tuesday, November 29th: 2:00PM

Jordan Henderson

Will He Play?

Henderson was considered a likely but not lock pick for Southgate’s squad. No surprise, he made it in, and he’ll have to compete with Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Calvin Phillips, Mason Mount, and Conor Gallagher. Assuming Southgate sticks with his traditional 3-4-2-1, Mount is likely to be used as one of the more attacking midfielders, and Gallagher is unlikely to play at all. If the lineup from Euro 2020 sticks, Phillips and Rice will start, but the more reasonable choice appears to Bellingham and Rice, due to Phillips’s recent injury history. Either way, Henderson will most likely serve as a fourth midfielder, and he’s unlikely to start many games, but likely to play in a few, either coming in as late defensive reinforcement in the middle, or serving as a rotation piece. Considering how much Southgate likes to rotate, and Phillips’s injury record, Henderson is bound to rack up a decent amount of minutes in his final World Cup run, let’s hope it’s a good one.

How Far Will They Go?

Well, this England squad really has no limits in this competition. It’s not trophy or bust, but millions of Brits will be hoping that it is coming home. After being shockingly eliminated by Iceland in the Round of 16 of the 2016 Euros, England finished 4th in the 2018 World Cup, losing to Croatia in the semis and Belgium in the third place game. Most recently, the Three Lions heartbreakingly lost to Italy in the finals of Euro 2020 on PK’s. The squad for Euro 2020 consisted of 20 of the same players as this squad, and Italy’s not in Qatar, so it’s questionable if anyone can beat this team. This team has no idea where they’ll end up, but the sky’s the limit for them

Group/Draw Overview

England got a pretty solid draw in Group B. They obviously were the Pot 1 team, and they drew the United States, definitely one of the worst teams (or best draws) from Pot 2. Iran’s an easy Pot 3 draw on paper, but they’re a sleeper team, and Mehdi Taremi running at Harry Maguire or Eric Dier could give any grown man nightmares. Lastly, Wales is a pretty run of the mill Pot 4 draw, but Gareth Bale is dangerous in international games, and Wales will no doubt be fired up to play England, especially when they see how Scotland got a point off of the Three Lions in 2020. They SHOULD be able to finish 1st in the group, where they would meet Senegal, which would be a fun game, and one where Southgate’s squad certainly would believe they should win.

Group Stage Schedule

vs Iran: Monday, November 21st, 12:00PM

vs United States: Friday, November 25th: 6:00PM

vs Wales: Tuesday, November 29th: 6:00PM

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Will He Play?

Well, it was initially expected that Trent would be at the bottom of a long list of British fullbacks. However, that list isn’t all that long, with Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier the only other true fullbacks on the roster. Ben White and Kyle Walker also both play full back, but are expected to be deployed as mainly centre backs due to Southgate’s back 5. If either Shaw or Trippier fall out of form, Trent could be slotted in, with either Trippier moving to the left, or moving to the bench. It’s unlikely that Trent starts against Iran for England, but he’s likely to make a couple appearances for the Three Lions.

How Far Will They Go?

Well, this England squad really has no limits in this competition. It’s not trophy or bust, but millions of Brits will be hoping that it is coming home. After being shockingly eliminated by Iceland in the Round of 16 of the 2016 Euros, England finished 4th in the 2018 World Cup, losing to Croatia in the semis and Belgium in the third place game. Most recently, the Three Lions heartbreakingly lost to Italy in the finals of Euro 2020 on PK’s. The squad for Euro 2020 consisted of 20 of the same players as this squad, and Italy’s not in Qatar, so it’s questionable if anyone can beat this team. This team has no idea where they’ll end up, but the sky’s the limit for them

Group/Draw Overview

England got a pretty solid draw in Group B. They obviously were the Pot 1 team, and they drew the United States, definitely one of the worst teams (or best draws) from Pot 2. Iran’s an easy Pot 3 draw on paper, but they’re a sleeper team, and Mehdi Taremi running at Harry Maguire or Eric Dier could give any grown man nightmares. Lastly, Wales is a pretty run of the mill Pot 4 draw, but Gareth Bale is dangerous in international games, and Wales will no doubt be fired up to play England, especially when they see how Scotland got a point off of the Three Lions in 2020. They SHOULD be able to finish 1st in the group, where they would meet Senegal, which would be a fun game, and one where Southgate’s squad certainly would believe they should win.

Group Stage Schedule

vs Iran: Monday, November 21st, 12:00PM

vs United States: Friday, November 25th: 6:00PM

vs Wales: Tuesday, November 29th: 6:00PM

Ibrahima Konaté

Will He Play?

Initially, it was expected that Konate wouldn’t appear at all for France. Les Blues feature an incredibly deep list of centre back options, including Raphael Varane, Konate’s former teammate Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde, Lucas Hernandez, and Benjamin Pavard. However, recent reports from training have said that Konate has been impressive, and that Deschamps is considering him for a spot in the team. These reports do seem slightly unlikely, as Konate is returning from an injury, and the other 5 options are more experienced. However, if Konate is able to squeeze out a start or some minutes for the French side, that would be enough to please any Liverpool fan watching from home.

How Far Will They Go?

No nation has won two straight World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. France will be looking to change that, but it’s gonna be a tough task. Les Blues will have to do without their midfield duo of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, as both will miss out due to injury. New reports suggest that Karim Benzema could also miss the tournament due to injury, and that comes after Christopher Nkunku was ruled out after a horror tackle at the hands of Eduardo Camavinga. However, a very similar French squad finished runners-up in Euro 2016, and an even more similar one won the 2018 World Cup. After a shocking Round of 16 exit at the hands of Switzerland, Deschamps and France will no doubt be looking to avenge their mistakes. Winning is definitely a possibility for Les Blues, but I wouldn’t bet on it. On the other hand, a quarterfinal berth is a pretty safe bet for the French side.

Group/Draw Overview

France received a draw that should make advancing easy, but finishing first could be a challenge. Les Blues were obviously the Pot 1 team for Group D, and they drew Denmark as their Pot 2 team. Denmark is one of the more underrated teams in the tournament, as they’re not incredible on paper, but very dangerous in a match. After a run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020, Denmark will regain their star centre midfielder Christian Eriksen, and look to replicate the success at the World Cup. After Denmark, France got Tunisia from Pot 3, which is incredibly lucky. And finally, Australia was selected from Pot 4. Despite being involved in the tournament every year since 2006, Australia are consistently one of the worst teams in the tournament, and that does not look like it will change in Qatar. Side note: Group D is almost exactly the same as Group C from 2018, but Peru is subbed out, and Tunisia is subbed in. Pretty good trade for the other three teams. Assuming France finish first in their group, they’d be likely to face Mexico in the Round of 16, which would be a winnable but exciting game. If Denmark beats them and they finish second, then they could face Argentina, and potentially replicate their thrilling match from 2018.

Group Stage Schedule

vs Australia: Tuesday, November 22nd, 7:00PM

vs Denmark: Saturday, November 26th: 4:00PM

vs Tunisia, Wednesday, November 30th: 2:00PM

Alisson

Will He Play?

If not, something’s gone horribly wrong. Even though Brazil’s squad does include City’s keeper Ederson, Alisson has received the majority of minutes in recent history. Alisson played at the World Cup in 2018, Ederson briefly took over for the Copa in 2021, but since than Alisson has reclaimed his job, and he started both of Brazil’s warm-up friendlies. Barring a horrific mistake or an even more horrific injury, Alisson looks set to start and play every minute of the Selecao’s journey in Qatar.

How Far Will They Go?

Brazil walks into Qatar as favorites, a familiar feeling for them. They were favorites in 2018, but Belgium knocked them out in the quarterfinals. They were favorites back at home, but they tied Mexico 0-0 on June 17th, and lost to Germany to end their 2014 run. Creative joke there. Along with that, they won the Copa America in 2019, before losing in the final to Argentina in 2021. This team was the first to qualify for Qatar, and they’re in excellent form as of late. They’re pretty much fully healthy, only missing Philippe Coutinho, who was unlikely to make it anyways. This is an excellent team, and deserved favorites, betting against them would be a very risky decision

Group/Draw Overview

The Selecao received a very dangerous draw in Qatar. They were obviously the Pot 1 team, but they received Switzerland as a very tough Pot 2 team. The same Switzerland that held Brazil to a draw in Russia, but now Granit Xhaka is in good form. Serbia has a terrible Pot 3 defense, a good Pot 3 midfield, and an incredible Pot 3 attack, with Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic, Alexsandar Mitrovic, and Filip Kostic all options. Brazil vs Serbia is definitely a game worth checking out, could end 19-18. Especially if Grujic starts in the middle. Lastly, Brazil drew Cameroon as a pretty tough Pot 4 team, even with Matip being retired by choice. All 3 of these teams can give Brazil a game, but maybe not beat them. If Brazil advances, they will most likely end up with a dream match: Uruguay or Portugal. Neymar vs Ronaldo or the South American rivalry are both great stories that would be awesome to see play out. Or it could be South Korea, but that’s less exciting.

Group Stage Schedule

vs Serbia: Thursday, November 24th, 7:00PM

vs Switzerland, Monday November 28th: 4:00PM

vs Cameroon, Friday December 2nd: 7:00PM

Fabinho

Will He Play?

Brazil made an interesting choice with their squad – they only brought four holding midfielders, two of whom are severely out of form. Casemiro is almost certainly a lock to start in holding midfield, and he’s likely to be joined by Bruno Guimaraes. That leaves Fred and Fabinho on the bench, both of whom have had a very rough start to the season. However, Fabinho is certainly the second most proven player in that midfield, and you’d have to imagine he’d be chosen over Fred if it came down to it. There’s plenty of minutes in extreme heat to go around in Qatar, and although Guimaraes and Casemiro are the likely pairing for the opener against Serbia, Fabinho will almost certainly get a chance to start, get some minutes, and potentially win a spot.

How Far Will They Go?

Brazil walks into Qatar as favorites, a familiar feeling for them. They were favorites in 2018, but Belgium knocked them out in the quarterfinals. They were favorites back at home, but they tied Mexico 0-0 on June 17th, and lost to Germany to end their 2014 run. Creative joke there. Along with that, they won the Copa America in 2019, before losing in the final to Argentina in 2021. This team was the first to qualify for Qatar, and they’re in excellent form as of late. They’re pretty much fully healthy, only missing Philippe Coutinho, who was unlikely to make it anyways. This is an excellent team, and deserved favorites, betting against them would be a very risky decision

Group/Draw Overview

The Selecao received a very dangerous draw in Qatar. They were obviously the Pot 1 team, but they received Switzerland as a very tough Pot 2 team. The same Switzerland that held Brazil to a draw in Russia, but now Granit Xhaka is in good form. Serbia has a terrible Pot 3 defense, a good Pot 3 midfield, and an incredible Pot 3 attack, with Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic, Alexsandar Mitrovic, and Filip Kostic all options. Brazil vs Serbia is definitely a game worth checking out, could end 19-18. Especially if Grujic starts in the middle. Lastly, Brazil drew Cameroon as a pretty tough Pot 4 team, even with Matip being retired by choice. All 3 of these teams can give Brazil a game, but maybe not beat them. If Brazil advances, they will most likely end up with a dream match: Uruguay or Portugal. Neymar vs Ronaldo or the South American rivalry are both great stories that would be awesome to see play out. Or it could be South Korea, but that’s less exciting.

Group Stage Schedule

vs Serbia: Thursday, November 24th, 7:00PM

vs Switzerland, Monday November 28th: 4:00PM

vs Cameroon, Friday December 2nd: 7:00PM

Darwin Nunez

Will He Play?

Short answer: Yes. Although Uruguay boasts an accomplished attack force including Nunez, Luis Suarez, and Edison Cavani, Nunez is expected to start, either as a winger or in a strike partnership with Suarez. A Nunez and Suarez partnership up top could be enough to have Liverpool fans drooling, or crying (depends if you’re glass half-full or half-empty), and is definitely enough to give defenders nightmares. On the other hand, Nunez’s pace on the wing could be a massive boost for Uruguay, and great practice if he continues to play there for Liverpool. No matter where he plays, Nunez is likely to get a large amount of Uruguay’s minutes up top, and is expected to provide goals as well.

How Far Will They Go?

This is an interesting year for this Uruguayan team. Although the names Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, and Jose Gimenez mean nothing compared to what they used to mean, the names Darwin Núñez, Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur, and Ronald Araujo mean so much more. This squad is either incredibly young or incredibly old, just depends on where you look. The last time we saw Uruguay in international competition, they were beaten on penalties by Colombia in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Copa America. Before that, they were beaten by eventual champions France in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Russia, and eliminated in the group stage of the 2016 Copa America. Uruguay will no doubt be looking to build on recent success and advance past the quarterfinals, but they’ll need their young players to step up while the old ones wind down.

Group/Draw Overview

Uruguay is the first team on this list to be a Pot 2 team, and as a result, they have a pretty tough group. They were drawn into Group H, where they met the second best Pot 1 draw, Portugal. Getting away with playing against a 37 year old Ronaldo, a 39 year old Pepe, and a couple annoying guys from Manchester is pretty good compared to some of the other Pot 1 teams. Meanwhile, South Korea entered the fray from Pot 3, which should be a very manageable game, especially with Heung-Min Son likely sidelined. However, as Germany learned the hard way, don’t sleep on South Korea. Lastly, Ghana and Thomas Partey joined Group H from Pot 4, which is a pretty tough draw. Side note: Wow, this is really an interesting crowd. Uruguay brings a human cannibal, Portugal brings the “goat” who doesn’t play soccer and a couple guys that we want the cannibal to have a go at, Ghana brings Thomas Partey, who is somehow still allowed to play football after the rape allegations, and South Korea brings Son, quite possibly the nicest human being anyone will ever meet. Lastly, if Uruguay moves on, they’re likely to face Brazil vs Switzerland, so really more guys from North London either way.

Group Stage Schedule

vs South Korea: Thursday, November 24th: 1:00PM

vs Portugal: Monday, November 28th: 7:00PM

vs Ghana, Friday, December 2nd: 3:00PM

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