World Cup 2022: Defending continent champions and a disappointing start
1. Qatar - the defending Asian champions
Qatar attends the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the host nation. They are also the defending champions of Asia after winning the 2019 Asian Cup. The West Asian team won the 2019 championship convincingly by defeating Japan 3-0 in the final. This is also the first Asian Cup championship for the Qatar national team.
However, Qatar is the most disappointing continental champion in the first series of the 2022 World Cup group stage. The host country lost 0-2 to Ecuador in a match in which they were complete underdogs.
In the next matches, they will have to confront the Netherlands and Senegal. In comparison to Qatar, these opponents are thought to be outstanding in terms of level and squad. If they do not improve their performance, the possibility of Qatar being eliminated early from the group stage is very likely.
2. Senegal - the defending African champions
Senegal won the CAN Cup earlier this year after beating Egypt 4-2 on penalties. This is also the first CAN Cup for the Senegal national team.
Senegal, the African champion, was disappointed on the opening day of the 2022 World Cup when they lost 0-2 to the Netherlands. This outcome is also detrimental to their chances of obtaining a ticket for the next round of the tournament.
They will have to try their best to compete for the point as well as score as many goals as possible to ensure their place in the round of 16.
3. USA- The defending North Central America and Caribbean region (CONCACAF) champions
The United States became champion of the North Central America and Caribbean region (CONCACAF) after beating Mexico 1-0 in the tournament final last year. Miles Robinson scored the only goal for the US team in the 117th minute of extra time.
In the Group B match against Wales, the USA is rated higher than Wales, both in terms of level and experience in FIFA World Cup competition. While the North Central American and Caribbean representatives have 11 appearances in the World Cup, their opponent, Wales, came back to this tournament after 64 years when they did not have the ticket.
The American team entered the game well and leading Wales thanks to a goal from Timothy Weah. However, they were then equalized by Gareth Bale's successful penalty kick.
4. Argentina, the defending South American champions
Lionel Messi and his teammates won the Copa America 2021 after winning 1-0 against host Brazil in the final. In June, Argentina also won the Intercontinental Super Cup after beating Italy 3-0.
However, in the first match against a lower-level opponent, Argentina received a surprising loss. The defending South American champion, Argentina, had a 1-2 loss to Saudi Arabia. The FIFA homepage rated this as one of the biggest surprises in World Cup history. Before kicking off the World Cup, "La Albiceleste" also had an unbeaten streak of 36 matches over the past 3 years.
This loss will become a mental barrier for Argentina players in the next match, when they will have to face such difficult opponents as Poland and Mexico.
5. The defending champions of Europe and Oceania
If the defending champions of another continent were disappointed in their first match in the World Cup 2022, the champions of Europe—Italy—and Oceania—New Zealand—would be shocked if they did not have the right to participate in the world's biggest football tournament.
After winning Euro 2020 by defeating England in the final, Italy was disappointed when they were eliminated by Macedonia in the play-off round in March with a score of 0-1 and did not have the right to compete in the World Cup in 2022.
New Zealand lost 0-1 to Costa Rica in the play-off in June.
Although the matches are still in their early stages, negative outcomes could have long-term consequences for both teams. In the FIFA World Cup 2022, there are many potential teams that could have surprising victories, so national football teams, including the defending champions of continents, should be careful. Only a minor blunder could cause their journey to end prematurely in the FIFA World Cup 2022.