When the World Cup group stage draw for the 2022 tournament in Qatar was made back in April, it threw up some excellent matchups.
Top seeds like Brazil, England and Argentina discovered their opponents as teams look to claim the trophy France won in 2018 in Russia.
Which teams are staring down the barrel of a Group of Death? Who are already plotting their path to the final from the last 16? Here are the easiest and hardest groups at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA world rankings – ie ‘(1)’ – are correct as of 25 August 2022.
Easiest 2022 World Cup groups
Qatar (48), Ecuador (44), Senegal (18), the Netherlands (8)
Hosts Qatar were in many ways the false seed in Pot 1, given they have a lack of football history and are only ranked 48th in the world.
Ecuador came through CONMEBOL qualifying by finishing in the top four ahead of nations like Peru, Colombia and Chile, while Senegal defeated Egypt on penalties in a play-off to book their spot.
The Netherlands are the highest ranked team and are highly fancied to take first place, though they previously faltered at the World Cup and didn’t qualify for the previous tournament in Russia.
Portugal (9), Ghana (60), Uruguay (13), South Korea (28)
Having only scraped through to the World Cup via the play-offs, every Portuguese player and fan must have been giddy with delight at their World Cup draw.
The lowest-ranked side in Pot 1 Qatar aside drew Uruguay – a side they did lose to at the last World Cup – as their only top 20 opposition. Ghana are comfortably the lowest-ranked team in Qatar and have only won one game in 2022, while South Korea haven’t made it out of the group stage since 2010.
Portugal have a number of ageing stars who will be playing in their last World Cup, though the presence of a number of exciting youngsters could power them towards the later rounds of the knockout stages.
France (4), Australia (39), Denmark (10), Tunisia (30)
France and Denmark are the heavy favourites to qualify from Group D ahead of Tunisia and Australia.
Tunisia were the lowest ranked team in Pot 3 and Australia qualified through an intercontinental play-off. The former have never made it out of the group stage and the Socceroos have just one last 16 appearance on their CV.
It would be a major shock if either France or Denmark missed out on the knockout stages, with both squads filled with impressive talent.
Hardest 2022 World Cup groups
England (5), Iran (22), USA (14), Wales (19)
FIFA allocated a place in Pot 4 to the winner of the UEFA play-off path that contained Ukraine, Scotland and Wales. Wales were triumphant, meaning the bottom seed in Group B is ranked 18th, higher than Iran who were in Pot 3.
England are the favourites to take top spot in Group B as the highest seeded team, but there are only 17 FIFA ranking places between the Three Lions and 22nd Iran.
The USA also have a large roster of exciting young talents to call upon in Qatar, so expect each game in this group to be competitive and tight.
Spain (6), Costa Rica (34), Germany (11), Japan (24)
Group E is full of interesting narratives. Both Spain and Germany have won the World Cup in the last 12 years, but they also performed miserably in their respective defences of the trophy, exiting at the group stage.
Any potential slip from the two European giants will see Japan and Costa Rica looking to take advantage. Costa Rica topped a group containing England, Uruguay and Italy back in 2014, while Japan have won seven of their 11 games in 2022.
Brazil (1), Serbia (25), Switzerland (16), Cameroon (38)
There might be a clear favourite for first place in Group G in Brazil, but the runners-up spot will be keenly contested.
Serbia were unbeaten throughout qualifying and topped a group including Portugal. Talents like Dusan Vlahovic, Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will all be hoping to impress with a deep run in the tournament.
Switzerland enjoyed a memorable run at Euro 2020, including a penalty shootout victory over France, and have qualified for every World Cup since 2002. Cameroon were plucked from Pot 4 but enjoyed a third place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.