World Cup: The permutations from Group F following another shocking result in Qatar

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World cup 2022
Getty Images via Football soccer history

Prior to the World Cup getting underway, Group F was – on paper at least – one of the easier groups to predict. Belgium and Croatia would both progress to the last 16, with the pair of European heavyweights battling it out on matchday three for top spot. Well, what a difference a week makes.

Oddschecker, which compares World Cup odds and offers, had made Belgium one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Qatar this winter, but the Red Devils are teetering on the brink following a stunning, and deserved, 2-0 defeat to Morocco. 

The Belgians appear to be in disarray. Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne stated that his nation couldn’t win the World Cup as they were now “too old.” In their opening game against Canada, they had the heroics of Thibaut Courtois to thank for keeping a clean sheet and keeping out Alphonso Davies’ penalty. Belgium would eventually steal a 1-0 victory, but the Canadians were very unfortunate to leave the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium empty-handed.

But there would be no such luck against the Moroccans. 

Spurred on by boisterous support, the Atlas Lions stunned their more illustrious opponents. Two second-half goals from Romain Saiss – aided by an uncharacteristic error from Courtois – followed by Zakaria Aboukhlal, gave the North Africans a well-deserved victory. Now they are on the brink of qualification from the group stages for the first time in their history. 

Who needs what? 

Croatia are currently in the best position. Their 4-1 victory over Canada on Sunday evening sent the Maple Leafs home and put the 2018 finalists at the top of the group and with a vastly superior goal difference. They know that they will progress if they avoid defeat. Croatia will top the group if Morocco don’t beat Canada. 

 For Morocco, a draw against the Canadians will be enough to see them progress to the second round for the first time. If they win, and Croatia do not, they will top the group. 

For Belgium, the task is clear. They must defeat Croatia to go through. If they win and Morocco lose, then Belgium will qualify as group winners, with Croatia finishing as runners-up and the Atlas Lions sent packing. If both the Red Devils and Morocco win, then Belgium will finish in second place behind Morocco. 

There’s all to play for in the final games of Group F. Canada cannot progress. Croatia are most comfortable, but still can’t rest on their laurels. Belgium, meanwhile, need to pull out a shining performance to make it to the knockout stages.

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