WORLD CUP GROUP F GUIDE – De Bruyne's looking to fire Belgium to glory

WORLD CUP GROUP F GUIDE: 2018 finalists Croatia look to go one better in Luka Modric’s swansong, Canada’s 36-year finals wait is over, while Hakim Ziyech is back in favour for Morocco… and can Belgium’s golden generation finally deliver silverware?

  • Belgium, Croatia, Canada and Morocco will compete in World Cup Group F 
  • All four teams can call upon some very talented players at the tournament
  • Sportsmail gives you all the information you need to know about the group 

Group F at the World Cup is comprised of four nations that have never previously won the competition.

However, there is set to be an array of high quality players on show, which will make this an intriguing group to follow.

Belgium’s golden generation may be nearing its end, but they can still call upon stars such as Kevin De Bruyne.

Belgium are the favourites to make an impact at the World Cup out of the teams in Group F

Croatia, meanwhile, got all the way to the final in 2018 before losing to France and Luka Modric will be eager to impress in what will be his last World Cup and international tournament.

Adding an element of intrigue, Canada are competing at the World Cup for the first time since 1986, and they too have some high-quality individuals in their ranks such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David.

Morocco will be determined to fare better than they did in 2018, when they finished bottom of their group. They will be boosted by the return of Hakim Ziyech, who recently came out of international retirement. 

The World Cup in Qatar gets underway on November 20, with Group F starting on  November 23. 

Sportsmail takes you through Group F, including how each nation qualified for the tournament, their history in the competition and who to look out for.

After reaching the final of the 2018 World Cup, Croatia will be aiming to go one better this time


Who is the manager?

Roberto Martinez

The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager has been in charge of Belgium since 2016.

Under his guidance, Belgium finished in third place at the 2018 World Cup, losing to eventual winners France in the semi-finals. At Euro 2020 Martinez’s side were beaten by Italy in the quarter-finals.

Martinez’s contract is set to run until the end of the World Cup, so how Belgium fare will certainly dictate his future.

Belgium go into this tournament having been top of the FIFA world rankings for three years in succession. The Belgium coaching staff includes Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and another former Gunner in Thomas Vermaelen. 

Ex-Wigan and Everton manager Roberto Martinez has been in charge of Belgium since 2016

Who is their star man?

Kevin De Bruyne

There are some talented players in the Belgium squad, although it is clear that the golden generation is coming to an end. 

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is the player that Belgium will largely be pinning their hopes on this Winter.

With his spectacular passes, De Bruyne is capable of unlocking the best defences in world football.

In addition, the 31-year-old possesses plenty of experience of playing at a high level for club and country, which should prove extremely useful in Qatar.

Kevin De Bruyne has frequently excelled for Manchester City and is key to Belgium’s hopes

How did they qualify?

Qualification was straightforward for Belgium as they finished top of Group E, winning six and drawing two of their eight games.

Belgium ended up finishing five points ahead of their closest challengers Wales, with Czech Republic, Estonia and Belarus behind them.

The highlight of qualification for Belgium was an 8-0 victory at home to Belarus.


Belgium get their World Cup campaign underway against Canada on November 23, with a clash against Morocco to follow four days later. Martinez’s side will hope to already have six points on board by the time they play Croatia on December 1.

Tournament history

The last two World Cups have seen Belgium have some of their best tournaments so far – they finished third in 2018 and reached the quarter-finals in 2014. They failed to qualify in 2006 and 2010 and went out in the round of 16 in 2002. In 1986 they got to the semi-finals. 

Odds to win the trophy – 14/1

Belgium reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2014, where they lost to Argentina


Who is the manager?

Zlatko Dalic

Previously the manager of clubs in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Dalic was appointed by Croatia in 2017.

Dalic received much praise for Croatia’s progress at the 2018 World Cup, where they made it all the way to the final and were beaten by France. At Euro 2020, Croatia reached the round of 16 and Dalic was the subject of a lot of criticism following his side’s recent Nations League campaign.

Croatia only avoided relegation to League B on goal difference and also conceded more goals than any other team in the Nations League. That led to some calls from fans for Dalic to resign, but he is set to remain in charge at least until the end of the World Cup.

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic received praise in 2018 but now finds himself under pressure

Who is their star man?

Luka Modric

Luka Modric may be coming to the end of his illustrious career, but the 37-year-old remains a key figure for Croatia – in what will be his final international tournament.

An undisputed legend for his country with a record 154 caps, Modric helped Croatia to reach the final in 2018 as the best player at the tournament, and, even though it will be difficult to repeat that feat, the midfielder will be determined to make an impact at his last World Cup.

Like De Bruyne for Belgium, Modric is the heartbeat of the Croatia side and is responsible for driving the team forward.

There are other talents to call upon too, such as Ivan Perisic and Josko Gvardiol. 

Despite being 37 years old, Luka Modric is still a player of pivotal importance to Croatia

How did they qualify?

Croatia finished top of qualifying Group H. They ended up one point ahead of Russia, who were later suspended following the invasion of Ukraine. 

During qualifying Croatia won seven of their games and lost just once as they scored an impressive 21 goals. 

Croatia have now qualified for three successive World Cups for the first time in their history. 


Croatia start against Morocco on November 23 before taking on Canada on November 27. The final group game for Dalic’s team sees them play Belgium on December 1.

Tournament history

Croatia started playing competitive matches in 1994 and managed to finish in third place at their first ever World Cup in 1998, with Davor Suker finishing as the tournament’s top scorer. They went out in the group stages in 2002, 2006 and 2014 before finishing as runners-up in 2018.

Odds to win the trophy – 50/1

Croatia’s Davor Suker was the top scorer at the 1998 World Cup as he netted six times


Who is the manager?

John Herdman

Born in England, Herdman was a development coach at Sunderland’s academy before moving to New Zealand in 2001.

Herdman coached the New Zealand women’s team from 2006 to 2011 before taking charge of the Canada women’s side from 2011 and 2018, leading them to a gold medal finish at the 2011 Pan American Games.

In January 2018 he became head coach of the Canada men’s team, and has won 68 per cent of his matches in charge so far.

Englishman John Herdman has made a significant impact since taking charge of Canada

Who is their star man?

Alphonso Davies 

Prolific forward Jonathan David is also in contention for this accolade, but Alphonso Davies is the key player for Canada. 

Usually deployed as a left-back for Bayern Munich, Davies tends to feature as a left wing-back for Canada and there have also been occasions when he has been used in other positions such as an attacking midfielder or up front.

Davies’ pace and dribbling could be extremely useful for Canada as they look to navigate their way out of a difficult group.

The 21-year-old will relish playing at his first World Cup and will hope that he will get many more opportunities to shine on the biggest stage. 

Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich is a key figure for Canada with his directness and flair

How did they qualify?

Canada’s qualification for their first World Cup since 1986 was secured courtesy of them finishing top of the CONCACAF qualification section. 

The top four nations qualified automatically, with Herdman’s team finishing above Mexico on goal difference. 

A 4-0 win over Jamaica in March confirmed Canada’s place at the tournament. 


Canada’s lengthy wait for a World Cup game will end on November 23 when they face Belgium. Another challenging test awaits four days later as they play Croatia before they finish the group against Morocco on December 1.

Tournament history

As alluded to, Canada don’t have a decorated history at the World Cup like some of the other nations. At their first World Cup in 1986 they went out in the group stages having lost all three of their games. Canada’s place at the next tournament in 2026 is already secure as they will be co-hosts along with Mexico and the United States.

Odds to win the trophy – 500/1

Canada enjoyed an impressive qualification campaign as they secured their World Cup berth 


Who is their manager?

Walid Regragui

A former Morocco international himself who won 45 caps between 2001 and 2009, Regragui served as assistant coach from 2012 to 2013.

After managing Rabat, Al-Duhail and Wydad, he was appointed as Morocco manager in August this year following the sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic. 

Regragui’s team drew 0-0 in a friendly with Paraguay before winning 2-0 against Chile.

Recently-appointed coach Walid Regragui will look to get Morocco out of a difficult group

Who is their star man?

Hakim Ziyech

Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi is undoubtedly one of Morocco’s standout players.

They will also be boosted by the return of Hakim Ziyech, with the Chelsea player having ended his international retirement.

Ziyech retired from international football in February 2022 after falling out with Halilhodzic, but he is back in favour under Regragui and could have a significant part to play at the tournament.   

Although Ziyech has lacked consistency during his time at Chelsea, he is capable of producing moments of magic and there will be a lot of focus on him in Qatar.

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech is back playing for Morocco after ending his international retirement

How did they qualify?

Morocco initially finished top of Group I in CAF qualifying ahead of Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sudan.

Following that they beat DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate in order to reach the World Cup.

After drawing the first leg 1-1, Morocco won 4-1 in the second leg. 


Morocco start the group on November 23 when they play Croatia. Following that they will be up against Belgium on November 27 and then Canada on December 1.

Tournament history

Morocco went out in the group stages of their first World Cup in 1970 before reaching the round of 16 in 1986. They were unable to get out of the group in 1994, 1998 and 2018 but will be determined to do so on this occasion.

Odds to win the trophy – 250/1

Morocco were unable to progress beyond the group stages at the World Cup in 2018

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article