Fernando Santos questioned the referee's performance after Portugal suffered the first defeat of their Nations League campaign to Switzerland.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring after just 55 seconds in Geneva, the fastest goal in Nations League history and earliest Switzerland have scored since 1988.

Referee Fran Jovic awarded a penalty to Switzerland 13 minutes later for a handball against Nuno Mendes, but the VAR overruled the decision.

A clear foul on Andre Silva by Nico Elvedi on the halfway line was the reason, with the Portugal striker requiring brief medical treatment for the ankle injury suffered in the tackle.

Portugal were incensed at the original decision, surrounding Jovic at half-time, and tempers continued to boil over in the second half, with Bruno Fernandes confronting the Swiss bench at one point.

While Santos refused to directly criticise the referee's performance, he admitted his frustrations with Switzerland seemingly slowing down the game en route to a 1-0 victory.

"I'm not going to criticise, but when a penalty is awarded that doesn't happen just like that, when there's a clear foul in midfield... Then just look at the number of fouls and time lost," he told reporters. 

"The fourth official knows very well what happened in the game."

Santos was satisfied with the second-half improvement, even if Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin's heroics left Portugal a point behind group leaders Spain, who defeated Czech Republic on Sunday.

"At half-time, I was just saying that we have to have the ball and play differently and push them back," he added. 

"We started very well, in the first few minutes we wanted to put the ball very quickly on [Goncalo] Guedes. We knew opportunities would arise and many have arisen."

Portugal are not in action again until visiting Czech Republic in the Nations League on September 24.

Portugal suffered their first defeat of the Nations League campaign after Haris Seferovic scored the winner in a 1-0 victory for Switzerland in Geneva.

Switzerland had lost all three of their Group A2 fixtures, including a 4-0 hammering in the reverse fixture, but took the lead through Seferovic inside the first minute.

Fernando Santos' side were repeatedly denied by Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin in search of an equaliser, with the absence of the injured talisman Cristiano Ronaldo particularly noticeable for the visitors.

Defeat left Portugal a point behind Spain at the summit of the group, while Switzerland picked up their first win to move one point behind Czech Republic in third.

Switzerland raced out the blocks as Seferovic headed into the bottom-left corner from Silvan Widmer's right-wing cross after just 55 seconds – the fastest goal in Nations League history.

The hosts thought they had a penalty 13 minutes later for a Nuno Mendes handball, but a lengthy VAR check ruled the spot-kick out for an earlier Nico Elvedi foul on Andre Silva.

Omlin kept his side ahead by denying a close-range Danilo Pereira header, before Rafael Leao headed home shortly after, only to be ruled out for offside.

Omlin also stopped a low Andre Silva drive after the interval, while Remo Freuler drilled just wide at the other end.

Seferovic almost extended Switzerland's lead but arrowed narrowly off target on a rapid counter-attack before Omlin beat away a swerving Bernardo Silva long-range strike.

The Montpellier stopper carried on his fantastic performance by pushing away a sliding Goncalo Guedes effort and a low Diogo Jota header as Switzerland held on for victory.

What does it mean? Portugal's top-spot hopes dented

Portugal were arguably fortunate to snatch a draw in their Nations League opener with Spain, but then recorded convincing victories over Switzerland and Czech Republic.

However, they came unstuck in Geneva and were largely off the pace, handing Spain the advantage in Group A2.

With only one team progressing, Portugal may end up needing to beat Spain on the final matchday in September.

Swift Seferovic

Not only was Seferovic's smart flick to open the scoring the fastest goal in Nations League history, but it was also Switzerland's earliest goal since 1988.

The striker became the first Swiss player to score in the first minute of a game in 34 years, since Alain Sutter managed to do so in World Cup qualifying against Luxembourg.

Sorry Silva

Andre Silva was tasked with leading the line in the absence of Ronaldo, but failed to leave his mark against Elvedi and Manuel Akanji.

The RB Leipzig striker was caught offside on a game-high two occasions, the first in the build-up to Leao's disallowed header, and made just 15 passes all match.

What's next?

Portugal are not in action until a Nations League away clash at Czech Republic on September 24, when Switzerland also visit Spain.

Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the Portugal squad for their Nations League meeting with Switzerland on Sunday. 

Portugal captain Ronaldo, Joao Moutinho and Raphael Guerreiro did not travel with the team for the match in Geneva. 

With his team sitting top of Group A2, Fernando Santos took the chance to grant the Manchester United striker a rest. 

Asked about the absences, Santos replied: "They are not because of physical problems – it's just normal management. 

"It wouldn't make sense to have 26 travelling to Switzerland when only 23 can be in the squad. In the last game we've been doing the best management and now it has fallen to these players." 

Even without Ronaldo, midfielder Ruben Neves has no doubt that Portugal have enough quality to claim a third win of the campaign. 

"Obviously, Cristiano is the best player in the world and it's always good to play with him," said Neves. 

"But I'm sure we're all prepared to help bring home another three points." 

Fernando Santos acknowledged there is still plenty of work for Portugal to do to finish above Spain in their Nations League group but is content with the fact his side are sitting pretty atop the pool.

Portugal, who won the inaugural tournament in 2019, moved two points clear at the top of Group A2 with a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in Lisbon on Thursday.

Spain leapfrogged the Czech Republic into second place courtesy of a 1-0 victory over bottom-placed and pointless Switzerland, coming on the back of successive draws.

The two heavyweights drew 1-1 last week and are due to meet again in the final round of fixtures, but Portugal must first travel to Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

And with only half of the campaign played, Santos is not taking anything for granted at this stage.

"We are first, which is always good," he told Portuguese television station RTP3. "But the other teams in our group also want to win. There are still three games to go.

"Spain also won today and we are now two points ahead. Naturally the group is still open. It will also be resolved in the final games in September, not now."

Portugal were good value for their victory at Estadio Jose Alvalade, where first-half goals from Joao Cancelo and Goncalo Guedes proved enough.

The Selecao had five shots on target to the visitors' one and ended with an expected goals (xG) value of 1.34 to 0.71.

 

While the margin of victory could have been even greater, Guedes was pleased with Portugal's ninth win in their past 11 matches since exiting Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage.

"We played a great game, especially in the first half," he said. "We tried to take advantage of the spaces and circulate the ball, which we managed to do.

"In the second half we tired more, but they're a good team and tried to cancel us out. We wanted more goals but couldn't find them.

"This was still an important victory and a great game on our part. We want to finish first and advance as far as possible in the competition, which we can do with victories."

Bernardo Silva set up both of Portugal's goals and now has three assists this Nations League campaign, which is more than any other player.

He created four big chances in total, while only Cancelo (three) completed more dribbles than Silva's two, despite being taken off 22 minutes from time.

Explaining that substitution, and his selection plans against Switzerland on Sunday, Santos told Sport TV: "Players start to feel tired – that's natural.

"He was very influential for us again today. But he used up his batteries early, and when that happens he could no fulfil his other roles.

"As for the team against Switzerland, you'll have to see."

Portugal moved two points clear at the top of Nations League Group A2 with a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic in Lisbon on Thursday.

The two sides entered the contest at Estadio Jose Alvalade level on four points apiece after two rounds of fixtures, and it was Portugal who took control at the summit.

Joao Cancelo blasted the home side in front from a tight angle and Goncalo Guedes added a second before half-time, with both goals assisted by Bernardo Silva.

The Czech Republic were unable to find a route back into the contest as they were leapfrogged by Spain – 1-0 winners over Switzerland – in second place.

Portugal had to see out a spell of early pressure, with Michal Sadilek volleying over from a good position, before taking a 33rd-minute lead.

Cancelo, who rounded off the scoring in Portugal's 4-0 win over Switzerland last weekend, took a pass from Silva in his stride and fired past Jindrich Stanek into the far corner.

Silva played in Guedes for Portugal's second, the Valencia winger picking his spot beyond Stanek to leave the Czech Republic with a mountain to climb with 38 minutes played.

Diogo Jota was denied by Stanek as Portugal attempted to extend their lead further and Guedes had a strong penalty appeal rejected when challenged by Sadilek in the box.

Cristiano Ronaldo was also thwarted by the opposition keeper, while Adam Vlkanova missed a big chance at the other end after a mix-up, but Portugal comfortably saw out the win.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos does not know what else can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo after his starring role in Sunday's Nations League win over Switzerland.

The veteran forward bounced back from being benched for Thursday's opener against Spain with a brace as he led the hosts to a 4-0 rout in Lisbon.

The result maintained an unbeaten start to the latest iteration of the competition for Portugal - and further underlined the vital role their captain plays in their success.

Speaking afterwards, Santos - who together with Ronaldo delivered Euro 2016 glory six years ago - admitted he has no further words to describe one of the game's greatest figures.

"I don't know what else to say," Santos said. "I will repeat that he is the best player in the world.

"What more can I say? I think it's all been said."

"I'm a coach who's happy when I win and when the team plays like they've practiced," Santos added to SportTV of Portugal's overall performance.

"After the first few minutes, we got the ball back and controlled the game. We could have done one or two more in the first half.

"In the second half the pace dropped, [but] the players are not machines. We scored another goal.

"Switzerland created some problems, but we always found the right solutions. It's more to Portugal's credit."

 

Cristiano Ronaldo gave an emphatic reminder of his value to Portugal as he fired them to a 4-0 victory over Switzerland in the Nations League.

The veteran forward and captain was rested to the bench for his country's opener with Spain on Thursday, forced to make do with a half-hour cameo in the 1-1 draw.

But the Manchester United star sent a searing message of his indispensability to coach Fernando Santos on his return to the starting line-up, bagging a double after setting up the opener for the hosts at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

For Murat Yakin's Swiss visitors, a second defeat of the Nations League in as many games leaves them facing a tough remaining schedule, after losing to the Czech Republic last time out.

It could have been so different though, after a lively start in Lisbon looked to have thrown up a wretched start for the hosts when Haris Seferovic prodded in from close range amid a crowded box.

Portugal were let off the hook, however, when VAR intervened to deem Fabian Schar had committed a handball infringement in the build-up from Xherdan Shaqiri's corner.

After that early scare, Santos' side sought to impose themselves and were rewarded on the quarter-hour mark when William Carvalho tapped home the rebound after Ronaldo's free-kick was pushed out.

From there, Ronaldo unfurled his instinct for hitting goals in rapid succession, first doubling his side's lead with a smooth strike from Diogo Jota's cut-back in the 35th minute, before adding a second for himself four minutes later with a tap-in.

The captain almost had a hat-trick before the break, steering an effort wide, and even as the goals dried up after the interval, he remained a potent marshal for Portugal's steady hold on the encounter.

With a three-goal cushion a bridge too far for Switzerland, the visitors proved particularly toothless in response. When Joao Cancelo struck in the 68th minute, what little resistance the Swiss had displayed perished as the hosts steered themselves to a resounding victory.

Fernando Santos insists he had no problem in leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench as Portugal played out an "interesting result" in their Nations League opener with Spain.

Alvaro Morata fired Spain into a 25th-minute lead with his 26th strike in all competitions for his country, becoming the joint-seventh highest scorer in La Roja's history alongside Emilio Butragueno.

Ronaldo was introduced after the hour mark but it was fellow substitute Ricardo Horta who made the difference.

Horta popped up at the back post with eight minutes remaining to coolly convert Joao Cancelo's low, whipped cross from the right flank, snatching a 1-1 draw for Portugal in Seville.

Santos, speaking after the game, was quick to defend his decision to name Ronaldo among the substitutes, while he hailed the performance of his side on the road.

"There is no management at all. Management will be done in every game. Here too. It seemed to me that this was the best solution for the start of the game," Santos told Sport TV.

"A different team [Portugal], in terms of work and positioning of field, with different things. This seemed to be a good solution and I had Cristiano whenever I needed to get him on the field.

"I already knew that. It's a normal structure."

He added to RTP3: "Thank God. I'm very happy, despite being sad about the result, I'm very happy because a Portugal draw with Spain is just an interesting result.

"Of course, it's not a good result for us, but still good for us, for the working of this group, which leads people to believe that we can do more."

Portugal host Switzerland on Sunday in their next Group A2 game, while Spain visit Czech Republic on the same day.

Spain head coach Luis Enrique was quick to praise the team spirit and support in Seville as he suggested he will rotate following the 1-1 Nations League draw with Portugal.

Alvaro Morata opened the scoring after 25 minutes on Thursday, becoming La Roja's joint-seventh highest scorer in history alongside Emilio Butragueno with 26 goals.

Spain dominated for large parts of the proceedings in their Group A2 opener, but substitute Ricardo Horta scored with eight minutes remaining to ensure the spoils were shared.

Czech Republic are the next opponents for Luis Enrique's side on Sunday and the Spain boss vowed to rotate to evaluate all members of his squad ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

"I have suffered more than usual," he told reporters after the game. "I was seeing that it was difficult to keep up with the rhythm of the 90 minutes and that the victory could escape us.

"But I think the team has been good. The players have coped with the heat and fatigue of the season with great determination. We are going to use all the players [in the upcoming games].

"The atmosphere, the public was superb and the attitude of my players as well. I like the team spirit. Now it's time to recover and we'll see what we can improve on.

"The idea of ​​competing throughout the game penalised us. It's difficult to keep up with the pressure for 90 minutes, but in general I'm satisfied.

"In fact, overall, I'm more than satisfied and I'm sure when I see it, I'll be even happier."

Luis Enrique was quick to hail the influence of Morata, while he defended his decision to leave Ansu Fati as an unused substitute.

"We could have won and we could have lost," he continued. "He is good in this team and everywhere, he is a player who has a goal and although he is not a player with stratospheric figures, everything he gives us is very good.

"Ansu is coming to help us in the long term, I like what I see in training but he still doesn't have the rhythm to help us in everything he wants, and it's normal.

"But I'm the coach and you have to trust me there."

Ricardo Horta scored a late equaliser as Portugal and Spain opened their Nations League campaigns with a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

Spain were defeated in the final by France in last year's competition, but entered the 2022 edition after four straight wins.

Morata fired Spain into a first-half lead as he became the joint-seventh highest scorer in La Roja's history with his 26th strike in all competitions.

Portugal offered little in response until Horta popped up with eight minutes remaining to steal a draw in the Group A2 opener.

Gavi whipped narrowly wide in the opening exchanges, while Rafael Leao – making his first start for Portugal – blasted over at the other end.

Morata opened the scoring after 23 minutes when Gavi surged forward to find Pablo Sarabia, who unselfishly squared for the forward to tap in.

Carlos Soler almost doubled Spain's lead shortly after but was denied by Diogo Costa before blazing the rebound over, while Andre Silva drilled just wide of Unai Simon's right post.

Fernando Santos responded by sending on Ruben Neves at half-time but the second-half proceedings continued in similar vein, with Spain in control.

Leao spurned a presentable opportunity by firing into the onrushing Simons' legs, before Morata prodded wastefully wide in an attempt to chip Costa.

Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced just after the hour, but it was another substitute, Horta, who equalised as he converted Joao Cancelo's whipped cross, before Jordi Alba headed agonisingly wide with the goal gaping in the closing stages.

Cristiano Ronaldo's presence has been "one of the most positive things" in Manchester United's disappointing season, according to Diogo Dalot, who is looking forward to working with the "outstanding" Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo has scored 23 goals and provided three assists in 36 appearances in all competitions since returning to Old Trafford at the start of the season, and has scored eight of the Red Devils past nine Premier League goals.

However, United sit sixth in the Premier League after enduring a frustrating season under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, and have gone five years without winning a trophy.

Despite the team's struggles, Dalot hailed the impact made by his club and Portugal team-mate.

"I'm sure I speak not just for me, but he's been one of the most positive things about this season," Dalot told Sky Sports. "To work with somebody who has his culture of working, his professionalism, his mentality and being close to him now... it's been very helpful for me and my career.

"The numbers are there, the stats are there, so we're obviously very happy to have him here. He's a very friendly person. When he feels he has the trust of other people, he gives 100 per cent of himself to you.

"Everybody gets along with him here, everyone likes to have him around. It's always a big plus to have a player and a person like this in the changing room."

The Red Devils face Brentford in their final home game of the Premier League season on Monday, with Ronaldo looking to add to a staggering 24 goal contributions (18 goals, six assists) in his past 18 games against newly-promoted sides in the competition. 

United are hoping the imminent arrival of Ajax boss Ten Hag will end a turbulent era for the club, and Dalot says the squad are excited by the prospect of adapting to the Dutchman's possession-based style.

"I don't think you need to see a lot to know that he is a great manager. What he's done with Ajax is something outstanding," Dalot added. "He plays very attractive football, I think every fan of United is excited to have a manager like this, and the players are as well.

"In our heads, it's going to be clear who the manager will be next season, and that's good because we go for our break knowing who to expect. Then we will have time in pre-season to work together, get our ideas right and start the new season."

Despite United's struggles, Dalot also says he has enjoyed this season on a personal level after making 27 appearances across all competitions, one more than fellow right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has struggled to adapt to Rangnick's high-pressing style.

Having received five caps for Portugal to date, Dalot also hoped his increased game time would boost his chances of featuring at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

"It's difficult to say it's been a good season when the results are not quite there as we expected, but individually it's been good in terms of playing much more," he added. "Playing regularly has been one of my biggest desires since I came here, and I've fought very hard to get it.

"It's been good, with more minutes than other seasons, so I'm very happy with that. But obviously I want to combine that with team performances, with trophies and that's the aim for the next seasons.

"I like to see it season by season. This season has been special because I've played more regularly here, getting into the first team with the national team and we qualified for the World Cup.

"I want to be there so these are the aims, but we still have three games to play, national team games at the end of the season, so there's no point looking too much ahead when we have some goals to achieve at the end of the season."

The dust is settling following the 2022 World Cup draw, which has provided a number of subplots and talking points aplenty to discuss between now and the opening set of games on November 21.

France, placed in a group that contains Denmark, Tunisia and one of Peru or Australia, will look to avoid becoming the fifth defending champions in the past six tournaments to exit at the first hurdle.

Spain and Germany, the winners of two of the past three World Cups, face off in arguably the pick of the group games in what will be their fifth meeting in the competition and the first since La Roja's 2010 semi-final triumph.

There are some good omens for England, who are in action on the opening day of the tournament – the last time that was the case they went on to lift the trophy on home soil in 1966.

As the debate rumbles on as to which is the most interesting group this time around, and supporters of participating nations plot out their route to the latter stages, Stats Perform picks out a key stat for each team.

GROUP A – Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

Qatar are competing in their first World Cup and will aim to avoid becoming only the second host nation to be knocked out in the first round after South Africa in 2010.

They will begin their campaign against Ecuador, who have not faced a nation from outside of the UEFA or CONCACAF regions in their previous 10 World Cup matches.

Senegal are participating in the event for a third time and are the third African Cup of Nations title holders to qualify this century after Cameroon in 2002 and Nigeria in 2014.

However, the heavyweights of the group are the Netherlands, who have won 11 of their last 14 World Cup matches when not factoring in penalty shoot-outs. Three times Oranje have reached the final; three times they have been beaten. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, of course.

GROUP B – England, Iran, United States, Scotland/Wales/Ukraine

England have progressed past the quarter-finals just once since 1966, although the most recent occasion came four years ago when losing in the semi-finals.

First up for England are Iran, who have scored nine goals in 15 World Cup matches – that goals-per-game average of 0.6 the lowest of any side to have played at least 10 times.

Back involved after missing Russia 2018, the United States will be looking to reach the knockout stages for a fourth time in their past five participations in a World Cup.

Should Wales reach the finals, the gap of 64 years between their only two finals appearances will set a record.

Scotland, who meet Ukraine in a play-off for the right to face Wales, have made more World Cup appearances (eight) without making it past the first round than any other nation.

 

GROUP C – Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

One of three South American teams to have lifted the trophy, Argentina have made it past the first round in 12 of their past 13 appearances, the only exception being in 2002.

It would be an understatement to say that Saudi Arabia have had less success in the finals, having won only three of their previous 16 World Cup matches – albeit one of those coming against Egypt in the 2018 edition.

Mexico have reached every World Cup since missing out in 1990 and tend to do well in the group stage, having advanced to the last 16 in each of their last eight appearances.

Whereas Mexico have won five of their past six opening games, first opponents Poland have won just one of their previous eight curtain-raising fixtures and have lost the last three.

GROUP D – France, Peru/Australia/UAE, Denmark, Tunisia

France are out to become the third team, after Italy (in 1938) and Brazil (in 1962) to retain the trophy. However, the last three defending champions have fallen in the group stage.

Denmark boasted the best defensive record of any side in European qualifying and have made it out of the group stage in four of their five World Cup appearances.

That is in contrast to Tunisia, who have not made the knockout rounds in six previous attempts. The Eagles of Carthage have also not beaten a European side in 10 World Cup games (D3 L7).

Tunisia have lost 60 per cent of their World Cup games, the third-highest by a team to have played 15+ games behind Saudi Arabia (69 per cent) and possible Group D opponents Australia (63 per cent).

 

GROUP E – Spain, Costa Rica/New Zealand, Germany, Japan

Spain won the World Cup in 2010, but that is the only occasion they have reached the semi-finals in their last 13 participations. However, they have won the group in four of their last five appearances.

Germany, champions in 2014, were the first side to reach Qatar 2022 aside from the hosts, and have made it to the semi-finals in four of the five World Cups this century – the best record of any side.

After reaching the last 16 in 2018, competition regulars Japan will aim to book a place in the knockouts in back-to-back editions for the first time.

Completing arguably the toughest group is either Costa Rica or New Zealand, who meet in a play-off in June. Costa Rica have appeared at five previous World Cups, while the All Whites have made it to the finals twice before.

GROUP F – Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Belgium have qualified for more World Cups without winning it than any other European team, with this their 14th appearance. With much of their 'golden generation' either 30 or close to it, however, this is realistically the final chance for that batch of players to cement their names in the history books, after a third-place finish in 2018.

Roberto Martinez's team might meet Spain or Germany in the last 16 but should have little trouble in getting out of their group.

Canada are competing in the global showpiece for the first time since 1986, when they lost all three matches and failed to score.

Morocco have won just one of their last 10 World Cup games, with that coming against Scotland in 1998, while their last knockout-round appearance was in 1986.

Beaten finalists in 2018, Croatia have had a mixed time of things in the finals, having been eliminated in the group stage (three times) or reached the semis (twice) in their past five appearances.

 

GROUP G – Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Brazil are the competition's most successful side with five trophies and are unbeaten in their last 15 World Cup group games, winning 12 of those. Their last such defeat was against Norway in 1998.

The next side with a chance to end that long run are Serbia, who have lost seven of their last nine World Cup matches, which is the most of any European nation since 2006. They also met Brazil in the 2018 group stage.

Another team to have been drawn with Brazil and, indeed, Serbia in Russia was Switzerland. History has repeated itself this time around. The Swiss finished above Italy in qualifying to make it to their fifth successive finals. Including the European Championships, they have reached the knockout stages in their last four major tournaments, a record only Belgium and France can match.

Cameroon make up Group G. They have played more matches at the World Cup than any other African nation (23), but they have lost the last seven of those – only Mexico (nine) have ever lost more in a row.

GROUP H – Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Heavyweights they may be, but Portugal have won only three of their last 14 World Cup matches, each of those in the group stage. Their last knockout-round win was in the last 16 against the Netherlands in 2006. 

All being well, Cristiano Ronaldo will be featuring in a record-equalling fifth World Cup. It will almost certainly be his last, though.

Ghana's quarter-final appearance in 2010 remains the joint-best finish for an African side, alongside Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990, and they have scored in their last five World Cup games.

Uruguay controversially eliminated Ghana in the quarter-finals 12 years ago but the Black Stars have a chance for revenge here in the final round of fixtures.

First up for Uruguay, meanwhile, are South Korea, but the South American side have won their opening match at just one of their last seven World Cups.

That is good news for Son Heung-min and Co. as South Korea look to win successive finals matches for just the second time ever, having knocked out Germany four years ago.

The draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar took place on Friday, and there are some tantalising fixtures to look forward to before the knockout rounds even begin.

Spain and Germany, two of the tournament's past three winners, are in the same group, while hosts Qatar now know they will kick things off against Ecuador on November 21.

Three teams are still to be determined, with two inter-confederation play-offs and a European play-off to be staged in June – potentially meaning an all-British affair for England, who will open up their campaign against the United States.

Reigning champions France face Denmark, Tunisia and one of Peru, the United Arab Emirates or Australia. Brazil should be confident of progressing from Group G, while Belgium, Portugal and Argentina, similarly, should have the quality to make it through.

Below is the full group-stage draw, with kick-off times and venues for each fixture yet to be confirmed.


DRAW IN FULL

Group A - Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

Group B - England, Iran, United States, Wales or Scotland/Ukraine

Group C - Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Group D - France, Peru or United Arab Emirates/Australia, Denmark, Tunisia

Group E - Spain, Costa Rica or New Zealand, Germany, Japan

Group F - Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Group G - Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Group H - Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Spain will face Germany in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, while Qatar were given a tough draw as the hosts will come up against the Netherlands and Senegal.

Luis Enrique's Spain and their fellow European heavyweights Germany will do battle in Group E along with Japan, while the winner of a play-off between Costa Rica or New Zealand will be their other opponents.

Qatar will take on Ecuador in the opening game of the tournament at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on November 21 before coming up against African champions Senegal and the Oranje in Group A.

The ceremony in Doha on Friday saw holders France drawn to lock horns with Denmark, Tunisia and either Peru, Australia or the United Arab Emirates in Group D.

 

Five-time champions Brazil, the top-ranked side in the world, will fight it out with Switzerland, Serbia and Cameroon in Group G.

England, semi-finalists in Russia four years ago, could face neighbours and fierce rivals Wales or Scotland in Group B, although Ukraine are also in contention to qualify via the play-offs. 

Gareth Southgate's side will definitely take on the United States and Iran in Group B.

 

Copa America champions Argentina, captained by the mercurial Lionel Messi, will be expected to advance from a Group C that will see them face Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

The 2018 runners-up Croatia and Belgium were drawn in Group F along with Morocco and Canada, who qualified for a World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana will be in Group H.

 

The draw is out, and the World Cup suddenly feels a lot closer, with the elite preparing to go for glory at Qatar 2022.

A likely last hurrah on the World Cup stage awaits superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while new names will break through and rising talent will be put to the test.

Eight nations have been champions of the tournament that was first staged in 1930, and it will be France looking to defend the title this time.

Many of us pride ourselves on remembering World Cup trivia from past tournaments, but just how good is your knowledge?

These Opta-assisted 20 questions should sort the group-stage flops from the champions of World Cup quizzing. The answers are below, but don't cheat!

The first...

1. Name the English boss who at Qatar 2022 will become the first to coach a team at both the men's and women's World Cups?

2. Gregg Berhalter will become the first man to serve as player and manager of the USA at the World Cup. He appeared at the 2002 tournament and is now boss of the American side. To which present-day Premier League club did Berhalter then belong, becoming their first World Cup player?

3. Who became the first player to score a Golden Goal winner at the World Cup when he netted for France against Paraguay in a 1998 last-16 clash?

4. In the 2018 showdown between France and Croatia, who became the first player in World Cup final history to score for both teams?

5. Qatar will attempt to become the first nation from the AFC confederation to win their first World Cup finals match. Ten of the previous 11 have lost (including Israel in 1970), but who were the team who in 1982 managed a 1-1 draw against Czechoslovakia?

 

The last...

6. There have been 52 hat-tricks in the tournament's history, but who was the last player to score a treble in the knockout stages of the World Cup?

7. A goalkeeper won his 159th and final international cap at the 2018 finals, when he became the oldest player to appear at the World Cup, at the age of 45 years and 161 days. He saved a penalty in a 2-1 defeat for his team against Saudi Arabia. Who was that goalkeeper and what team did he play for?

8. Ghana reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2010 and Senegal did so at the 2002 finals. But who were the first team from Africa to make it to the last eight, doing so at the 1990 finals in Italy?

9. Brazil last lost a group game at the World Cup in 1998, since when they have won 12 and drawn three games at the first-round stage. Which team beat them in that 1998 tournament?

10. Cameroon have lost each of their past seven games at the World Cup (between 2002 and 2014). Only one team have ever lost more games in a row in the competition's history – nine between 1930 and 1958. Who were that team?

The most...

11. Just Fontaine scored his 13 World Cup goals in just six games for France. The competition's all-time record scorer is Germany's Miroslav Klose, who netted 16 times for his country in how many appearances: 22, 23 or 24?

12. Who will become the only team to have appeared at all 22 editions of the World Cup when they take part in Qatar 2022?

13. Iran will be making their sixth appearance at the World Cup and have never gone beyond the group stage. Which country has made the most appearances (eight) without making it past the first round?

14. Which forward had the most goal involvements of all players in European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, scoring 12 and assisting six times in 10 games?

15. Since 1966, only three players have completed more than 12 dribbles in a single World Cup game, with Brazil's Jairzinho achieving 13 against Paraguay in 1970 and Paul Gascoigne matching that total for England against Cameroon in 1990. Who managed the most – 15 in a game against Italy at the 1994 tournament?

 

The GOATs...

16. Which superstar, who scored eight times and provided eight assists in 21 World Cup games, also holds the record for the most handball decisions given against a player at the tournament (seven) since records began?

17. Who holds the record for the most minutes played in World Cup history, having featured in 2,216 minutes of finals action?

18. Portugal great Cristiano Ronaldo is one of only four players to score in four different World Cup tournaments. He will attempt to go one better this year, but Ronaldo currently sits alongside Pele, Klose and which other player?

19. Between them, Ronaldo (seven) and Lionel Messi (six) have managed 13 World Cup goals. How many of those goals came in the knockout rounds?

20. Ronaldo is one of just two European players to have either scored and/or assisted a goal in each of the last five major international tournaments (World Cup/European Championship). Who is the other player to have managed the feat?

 

Answers:

1. John Herdman (Canada – he managed Canada Women at the 2015 Women's World Cup)
2. Crystal Palace
3. Laurent Blanc (France)
4. Mario Mandzukic (Croatia)
5. Kuwait.
6. Tomas Skuhravy (for Czechoslovakia against Costa Rica, last 16, 1990)
7. Essam El Hadary (Egypt)
8. Cameroon
9. Norway
10. Mexico
11. 24
12. Brazil
13. Scotland
14. Memphis Depay (Netherlands)
15. Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria)
16. Diego Maradona (Argentina)
17. Paolo Maldini (Italy)
18. Uwe Seeler (West Germany)
19. Zero
20. Ivan Perisic (Croatia)

Page 1 of 11
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.