Since groups A and B are leading the final round of group stage matches, everything is still up for grabs. The only team from either group that has been eliminated is the host nation World Cup Qatar 2022, meaning all other teams today have a chance to move on to the Round of 16.
Notes on scheduling: Each group contains two matches, just like MD-1 and MD-2. To be fair, both games in each group will start and play at the same time. The kickoff times are slightly different from what we’ve previously seen, which furthers our confusion:
Set your alarms one hour before each kickoff so you can make last-minute transfers since Group-A kicks off at 15:00 GMT and Group-B kicks off at 19:00 GMT.
Let’s examine what to anticipate from these fixtures.
Senegal vs. Ecuador in Group A
Time zone: GMT 15:00
Khalifa International Stadium is the location.
Ecuador put themselves in a strong position to move to the Round of 16 and even win the group after holding group favourite Netherlands to a draw in the second round. Ecuador more than held its own against the Oranje; in fact, the South Americans might have taken the victory if they had improved their ability to make free throws.
Ecuador can advance with a draw, but if they defeat Qatar by more goals than the Netherlands, they will move up in the standings, therefore they should start strong.
Enner Valencia, the captain, talisman, and leading scorer for Ecuador, is still recovering from a knock sustained in his debut game, but doctors anticipate that he will be able to start.
By defeating the tournament host Qatar 3-1 in MD-3, the Teranga Lions earned their first points of the competition. They now go into this game knowing that a loss would mean an early end to their season. Due to a knee injury, Cheikhou Kouyate is questionable for this matchup.
Expectation: 1 to 1.
Qatar vs. Netherlands, 15:00 GMT
The Al Bayt Stadium is where.
The Oranje are eager to beat tournament host Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium and pick up a much-needed three points as well as some goal differential. Any victory ensures entry into the Round of 16. The Oranje must outperform Ecuador’s performance in order to win the group, so they should attack from the start.
When Senegal defeated a Qatar in MD-2, they were the first team to be eliminated. As they try to give the home fans something to cheer about in what has been a disappointing World Cup campaign, they now have only host pride to play for.
If the Netherlands engage in a second-half goal-scoring race against Ecuador, they should have plenty left over for World Cup Qatar 2022.
USA versus. Iran in Group B
Time zone: GMT 19
Al Thumama Stadium is where.
Iran surprised everyone by defeating Wales 2-0 in MD-2. All seemed lost for Iran after losing to England 6–2 in MD-1, but the victory against Wales means that a victory over the USA guarantees entry into the Round of 16. Iran simply needs a draw in the likely event that England defeats Wales.
Ahmad Noorollahi and Alireza Safar Beiranvaud are both questionable due to knee and concussion problems, respectively.
Do we still refer to it as football or is it now called soccer? In a game touted as soccer vs. football, the United States unquestionably appeared to be the superior team during the scoreless draw with England. Against a star-studded England team, the young American team was energetic and appeared to be the more established football nation.
The United States needs a win, end of story. It trails Iran and England by one and two points, respectively.
Expectation: 1 to 1.
England and Wales
Time zone: GMT 19
Ahmed bin Ali Stadium is the location.
It’s entirely British! Wales knows that a loss will eliminate them from the World Cup Qatar 2022 as they take on the nearby Three Lions of England. Wales suffered a shocking defeat to Iran after a stellar MD-1 draw with the United States. An Iranian team that never appeared to be losing the game outplayed and outthought the Dragons. If the Welsh want to win, they must get better.
It will be interesting to see if Gareth Southgate heeds the cries of the countless supporters pleading for Phil Foden of Man City to finally start for the Three Lions. Since England’s poor performance against the USA, calls for Foden to play in Qatar have increased.
England can advance to the Round of 16 with just a draw, but without a victory, Iran or the United States might take first place.
Forecast: 0 to 2
What do you think will happen on Day 9? Do you like surprises? What four teams do you anticipate will emerge from Groups A and B? Please share your opinions in the comments section below.