England's route to the World Cup final and the opponents they may play

England’s route to World Cup glory: Gareth Southgate’s side will aim to end 56 years of hurt this winter but they might need to battle past Senegal, France, Belgium – and a showdown with Germany, Spain or Brazil – to do so

  • England are on the hunt for a historic second World Cup triumph this winter
  • The World Cup in Qatar starts on November 21 and runs until December 18 
  • England are the favourites to reach the knockouts as winners of Group B 
  • They could be matched against France and Belgium en route to the final 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

England will be looking to end 56 years of hurt when they head to Qatar for the World Cup this winter. 

Gareth Southgate’s side have come agonisingly close to ending their trophy hunt in recent years, reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and losing out on penalties to Italy at last year’s Euro 2020 final. 

The 2022 World Cup is now swiftly approaching, however, and the Three Lions will once again take to the international stage with renewed optimism this will be their year.  

Seven games stand in England’s way of lifting the presigious trophy in December, with the final taking place the 80,000-seater Lusail Stadium on 18 December.

The group stage draw in April was favourable for England, who will be supremely confident of reaching the knockouts once more. 

There, it will quickly get considerably harder, with the likes of France and Argentina potentially awaiting them by the quarter-finals. Sportsmail takes you through the full route to the final below. 

Gareth Southgate’s side will be looking to end 56 years of hurt in the Gulf state this winter

England were drawn into Group B alongside Iran, USA and one of Ukraine, Scotland or Wales

England, who were drawn into Group B, will play on the tournament’s opening day against Iran, a side they have never faced in a senior competitive international.

They will also face the United States, who they have met twice in the World Cup finals – in 1950 and 2010 – but never beaten.

The final fixture will be against the winners of the European play-off, either Scotland. Wales or Ukarine.

The play-off was postponed due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the final Group B member will be determined on June 5. Wales are already in the final, awaiting the winner of Scotland vs Ukraine on June 1. 


  • England vs Iran – Monday, November 21 at 1pm
  • England vs USA – Friday, November 25 at 7pm  
  • Wales/Ukraine/Scotland vs England – Tuesday, November 29 at 7pm 

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic (centre) will be the dangerman for the United States this winter

Gareth Bale’s Wales (L) and Andy Robertson’s Scotland (R) are fighting for a World Cup spot

The Round of 16

This is where things get slightly more complicated, as both the fixture dates and potential opponents change depending on whether England win the group or finish as runners-up. 

If England are to finish top of Group B, then next up would be the runner-up from Group A – which is comprised of Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands. 

In that predicament, it’s Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands who are the favourite to prevail as Group A winners, meaning Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal would be England’s likely opponents.   

England will likely come up against Sadio Mane and Senegal in the first knockout round

The match would be played on December 4 at the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor. 

If England finish as runners-up, however, their last-16 clash would come a day earlier on December 3, with the clash taking place at the Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan.

They would instead come up against the Group A winners, which, as stated, is likely to be the Netherlands. 

However, if England are to finish group B runners-up, another Liverpool star in Virgil van Dijk could await, with the Netherlands likely to win Group A

The Quarter-finals

Again, who England play at the quarter-final stage entirely depends on whether they win Group B or not – though either way they are guaranteed to play a team from Group C or D. 

Included in Group C are Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland, while vying for a knockout stage place in Group D are France, Denmark, Tunisia and one of Australia, UAE or Peru – who are still to battle it out for a World Cup spot this summer. 

If England win Group B – and subsequently get past the challenge of the Group A runner-up – they will play the winner of the last-16 clash between the Group D winner and the Group C runner-up. 

That would make France England’s most likely quarter-final opponents. 

England could play 2018 World Cup winners France in the quarters if things go as expected

Les Bleus are likely to win Group D, and if Argentina win Group C, as expected, the reigning champions will certainly be the favourites to beat any of Saudi Arabia, Mexico or Poland. 

The game would take place on December 10 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

If England are to finish as Group runners-up – and beat the Group A winners – again the clash would take place a day earlier on December 9. In this scenario, it would be played at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

They would, in this scenario, come up against the winner of the last-16 clash between the Group C winner and the Group D runner-up. 

Argentina would therefore be England’s most likely quarter-final opponents. Of course, as likely Group D runners-up, Denmark could also upset the odds and beat Lionel Messi’s side. 

Copa America winners Argentina are another possible opponent for England at this stage

The Semi-finals

In the semi-finals, we know England will play a team from either Group E, F, G or H. 

This means England could technically play any of the following: Spain, Costa Rica/New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia, Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon, Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay or South Korea.

This narrows down, however, again depending on where England finish in Group B.  

As Group B winners, England, in progressing to the last-four, could square off in a mammoth clash against Group F winners Belgium or Group H winners Portugal.

England could be matched against a number of familiar faces in a semi-final against Belgium

The game would take place Wednesday, December 14 at the Al Bayt Stadium at 7pm.  

As runners-up, Southgate’s side could come up against one of Spain, Germany or Brazil, being either Group E or Group G winners. 

The game would take place Tuesday, December 13 at the Lusail Stadium at 7pm. 

The final

The final is, essentially just the opposite of the semi-final. Should England win Group B, it’s Spain, Germany or Brazil they are likely to take on, having already beaten one of Portugal or Belgium.

As Group B runners-up, it’s Belgium or Portugal who would be the likely opponents for England, having already beaten one of Spain, Germany or Brazil. 

The final will take place on Sunday, December 18 at the Lusail Stadium at 3pm.


Group Stages 

Monday, November 21

Senegal v Holland – Al Thumama Stadium, 10am

England v Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, 1pm

Qatar v Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, 4pm  

USA v Wales/Scotland/Ukraine – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 7pm

Tuesday, November 22

Argentina v Saudi Arabia – Lusail Stadium, 10am

Denmark v Tunisia – Education City Stadium, 1pm

Mexico v Poland – Stadium 974, 4pm

France v Peru/UAE/Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, 7pm

Wednesday, November 23

Morocco v Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, 10am

Germany v Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, 1pm

Spain v Costa Rica/New Zealand – Al Thumama Stadium, 4pm

Belgium v Canada – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 7pm

Thursday, November 24

Switzerland v Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, 10am

Uruguay v South Korea – Education City Stadium, 1pm

Portugal v Ghana – Stadium 974, 4pm

Brazil v Serbia  – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Friday, November 25

Wales/Scotland/Ukraine v Iran – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 10am

Qatar v Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, 1pm

Holland v Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, 4pm

England v USA – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Saturday, November 26

Tunisia v Peru/UAE/Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, 10am

Poland v Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, 1pm

France v Denmark – Stadium 974, 4pm

Argentina v Mexico – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Sunday, November 27

Japan v Costa Rica/New Zealand – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 10am

Belgium v Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, 1pm

Croatia v Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, 4pm 

Spain v Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Monday, November 28

Cameroon v Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, 10am

South Korea v Ghana – Education City Stadium, 1pm

Brazil v Switzerland – Stadium 974, 4pm

Portugal v Uruguay – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Tuesday, November 29

Holland v Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, 3pm

Ecuador v Senegal – Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm

Iran v USA – Al Thumama Stadium, 7pm

Wales/Scotland/Ukraine v England – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 7pm

Wednesday, November 30

Peru/UAE/Australia v Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium, 3pm

Tunisia v France – Education City Stadium, 3pm

Poland v Argentina – Stadium 974, 7pm

Saudi Arabia v Mexico – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Thursday, December 1

Croatia v Belgium – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 3pm

Canada v Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm

Japan v Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, 7pm

Costa Rica/New Zealand v Germany  – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Friday, December 2

Ghana v Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium, 3pm

South Korea v Portugal – Education City Stadium, 3pm

Cameroon v Brazil – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Serbia v Switzerland – Stadium 974, 7pm

Last 16

Saturday, December 3

Match 49 – 1A v 2B – Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm

Match 50 – 1C v 2D – Al Rayyan Stadium, 7pm

Sunday, December 4

Match 52 – 1D v 2C – Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm

Match 51 – 1B v 2A – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Monday, December 5

Match 53 – 1E v 2F – Al Janoub Stadium, 3pm

Match 54 – 1G v 2H – Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, 7pm

Tuesday, December 6

Match 55 – 1F v 2E – Education City Stadium, 3pm

Match 56 – 1H v 2G – Lusail Stadium, 7pm


Friday, December 9

Match 57 – Winner of Match 49 v Winner Match 50 – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Match 58 – Winner of Match 53 v Winner Match 54 – Education City Stadium, 3pm

Saturday, December 10

Match 59 – Winner Match 51 v Winner Match 52 – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Match 60 – Winner Match 55 v Winner Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm


Tuesday, December 13

Match 61 – Winner Match 57 v Winner Match 58 – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Wednesday, December 14

Match 62 – Winner Match 59 v Winner Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Third-place play-off

Saturday, December 17

Match 63 – Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm


Sunday, December 18

Match 64 – Lusail Stadium, 3pm

All kick-off times where given are GMT.




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