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World Cup Semifinals Preview: What to Expect


DOHA, Qatar — Even Didier Deschamps, France’s ordinarily gnomic coach, seemed a bit indifferent within the wee hours of Sunday morning. His team had edged past England in a tense, taut type of a game, the type that made the insistence of the stadium’s hype man, immediately after the ultimate whistle, that it had been “loads of fun” for everybody seem greater than a touch discordant.

Deschamps’s chipper mood was easily explained. Together with his team’s 2-1 victory, he had achieved the one goal even one of the best team on the earth, the reigning champion, had dared to set before this World Cup. France had outlasted not only England but Brazil, Spain and Germany, too. It had made the ultimate 4. Whatever happens from this point on counts as extra credit.

Each of the semifinals follow largely the identical template, pitting one among the teams that arrived in Qatar as a longtime contender against one among the tournament’s largely unheralded outsiders. The mention of that framing was the one thing that dispelled Deschamps’s good cheer. “Any of the 4 teams can win it,” he said.

Given all the things that has happened during the last three weeks to bring the World Cup so far, it is tough to disagree.

Tuesday, 2 p.m. Eastern time, Lusail Stadium

The emotion pulsing through Argentina’s players and fans has never been removed from the surface in Qatar. Its form, its shape, has modified over the course of 5 games, starting from the caterwauling after a gap defeat to Saudi Arabia to the belligerence of a narrow victory over the Netherlands, taking in relief, hope, euphoria and pride along the way in which.

A Transient Guide to the 2022 World Cup

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What’s the World Cup? The quadrennial event pits one of the best national soccer teams against one another for the title of world champion. Here’s a primer to the 2022 men’s tournament:

Where is it being held? This yr’s host is Qatar, which in 2010 beat the USA and Japan to win the precise to carry the tournament. Whether that was an honest competition stays in dispute.

When is it? The tournament opened on Nov. 20, when Qatar played Ecuador. Over the 2 weeks that follow, 4 games will probably be played on most days. The tournament ends with the ultimate on Dec. 18.

Is a winter World Cup normal? No. The World Cup normally takes place in July. But in 2015, FIFA concluded that the summer temperatures in Qatar might need unpleasant consequences and agreed to maneuver the tournament to the relatively bearable months of November and December.

What number of teams are competing? Thirty-two. Qatar qualified mechanically because the host, and after years of matches, the opposite 31 teams earned the precise to come back and play. Meet the teams here.

How does the tournament work? The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of 4. Within the opening stage, each team plays all the opposite teams in its group once. The highest two finishers in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.

How can I watch the World Cup within the U.S.? The tournament will probably be broadcast on Fox and FS1 in English, and on Telemundo in Spanish. You may livestream it on Peacock, or on streaming services that carry Fox and FS1. Here’s easy methods to watch every match.

When will the games happen? Qatar is three hours ahead of London, eight hours ahead of Latest York and 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Meaning there will probably be predawn kickoffs on the East Coast of the USA for some games, and midafternoon starts for 10 p.m. games in Qatar.

Got more questions? We’ve got more answers here.

That wild oscillation, on some level, feels unsustainable; energy is a limited resource, in spite of everything, and Argentina — driven by the assumption that winning this World Cup is Lionel Messi’s undeniable destiny — is burning through its supplies at a far greater clip than another team.

Alternative readings can be found. Argentina has shown a nerve and a coolness even in that white heat that indicates a certain steel. Against the Dutch at Lusail on Friday evening, for instance, Lionel Scaloni’s team was far superior for vast stretches of the sport. But much more impressive than its performance was that it recovered from conceding a late equalizer to win the sport on penalties.

The complication, now, is that Argentina faces a Croatia team that has its own undeniable sense of purpose, a team that doesn’t seem in a position to countenance the prospect of defeat, one which has shown a remarkable ability during the last two tournaments to outlast almost anyone that stands in its way, one which refuses to just accept that it might be simply a personality in another person’s story.

Wednesday, 2 p.m. Eastern time, Al Bayt Stadium

On the surface, for all Deschamps’s insistence that his team won’t fall victim to complacency, it could appear overwhelmingly likely that, 4 years after it lifted the trophy, France will return to the ultimate. This time it’s in search of to turn into the primary team since Brazil in 1962 to mount a successful defense of its World Cup title.

France, in spite of everything, has not only the tournament’s leading scorer — Kylian Mbappé — and essentially the most gifted player on the planet — also Kylian Mbappé — but an enviable array of attacking threats, a well-balanced midfield and a redoubtable defense. It barely broke a sweat on this tournament before facing England, and such is France’s self-assurance that it needed to play well for lower than a 3rd of that quarterfinal to make it through.

There are two things, though, that may give Deschamps pause for thought. The primary is Morocco’s bloody-minded obstinacy. Walid Regragui’s team has faced Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Croatia on this tournament, and it has not conceded a single goal to any of them. Indeed, the one time its defenses have been breached — against Canada — the wound was self-inflicted. If anyone can shut Mbappé down, it might be his Paris St.-Germain teammate Achraf Hakimi.

Just as significant, though, is the incontrovertible fact that this can feel like a Moroccan home game. Regragui’s team has not only been followed to Qatar by tens of hundreds of its own fans, it has picked up countless supporters on its technique to becoming the primary African team to make the semifinals of the World Cup.

It stands, now, as an avatar not just for its continent but for its region, too, an impassioned, inspired standard-bearer for the Arab world. That has manifested in every one among its games up to now; the French can have faced more illustrious teams here, but they’ve actually not encountered such a hostile atmosphere.

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