Vinicius Jr., Dembele rise; Rashford, Di Maria fall

We’re lower than a month away from the World Cup in Qatar, when the host nation will kick off the match on Nov. 20 towards Ecuador.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, extra (U.S.)

All 32 finalists are making their closing plans for the match, hoping that star gamers do not get struck down by harm and head into the World Cup in high kind. Away from that, there’s loads of gamers who’re desperately hoping to interrupt into their nation’s 26-man squad, which needs to be named by Nov. 13.

Every week, we’ll check out the favourites to see how they’re shaping up and likewise verify in with different nations as their gamers both shine or wrestle.

– World Cup finals bracket and fixtures schedule

JUMP TO: England | France | Germany | Spain | Netherlands | United States | Mexico | Argentina | Australia | Senegal | Tunisia | Belgium | Morocco | Cameroon | Portugal | Ghana | South Korea


BRAZIL
Fixtures: Serbia (Nov. 24), Switzerland (Nov. 28), Cameroon (Dec. 2)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 7

STOCK CLIMBING

Vinicius Junior: It might sound arduous to consider, however Vinicius Junior shouldn’t be assured a spot in Brazil’s beginning line up. With a tweak right here and there, the staff has three completely different picks. Vini seems in two, however within the different — which might be the most certainly formation — he’s on the bench. His activity over these subsequent few weeks, then, is to make use of each Actual Madrid match as a stage from which to proclaim his deserves — and he actually did that on the weekend, with an impressive show within the 3-1 win over Sevilla. A number of extra matches like that and it will likely be arduous for Tite to go away him out subsequent month.

STOCK FALLING

Lucas Paqueta: If final week the harm fear was Richarlison, this time it’s Paqueta, who’s presumably much more vital to the staff. In these tactical switches, Paqueta is the joker within the pack, capable of function as an attacking midfielder, a false winger and in a deeper midfield position — and likewise at centre ahead if required. The rib harm he suffered for West Ham has Brazil anxious. Neymar, his on-field accomplice, went to social media to inform Paqueta that “I need you.” The harm would appear unlikely to maintain Paqueta out of the World Cup, however Brazil are taking no possibilities. Subsequent Monday the staff physician will fly to London to verify on his progress. — Tim Vickery


ENGLAND
Fixtures: IR Iran (Nov. 21), United States (Nov. 25), Wales (Nov. 29)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 10

STOCK CLIMBING

Callum Wilson: The race to win a spot in Gareth Southgate’s squad as cowl for centre-forward Harry Kane is intensifying, so it was a very good weekend for Newcastle ahead Wilson to attain as his staff climbed into the Premier League high 4 with a 2-1 towards Kane’s Tottenham. Wilson, 30, has not performed for England since successful the final of his 4 caps within the 6-0 win towards Bulgaria in Sofia in Oct 2019, however having overcome plenty of harm issues, he has now thrust himself again in competition to go to Qatar.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: The Everton ahead is the participant most certainly to fill the slot as Kane’s understudy in Qatar, however accidents have restricted him to only 4 appearances for Frank Lampard’s staff this season. Nonetheless, Calvert-Lewin has loved a constant run of video games in October and he scored his first objective of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 win towards Crystal Palace at Goodison Park.

Dean Henderson: Gareth Southgate is predicted to take three goalkeepers to Qatar, with Everton’s Jordan Pickford a certainty as first-choice if he stays match. However the race to be the second and third keepers is arguably between Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale, Newcastle’s Nick Pope and Nottingham Forest’s Dean Henderson. Henderson, on a season-long mortgage from Manchester United, was excellent within the 1-0 win towards Liverpool on the weekend and again within the shake-up for a World Cup spot.

Trevoh Chalobah: With England starting to fret about defensive accidents, particularly at centre-half, the efficiency of Chelsea defender Chalobah within the 1-1 draw towards United could have performed the 23-year-old no hurt in his bid to make a late surge into the squad. Chalobah dominated his battle towards Marcus Rashford and loved one among his finest performances for the membership.

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Mark Ogden reacts to the notable absentees from Gareth Southgate’s newest England squad.

STOCK FALLING

Jadon Sancho: The Manchester United winger struggled to make an affect throughout Saturday’s 1-1 draw. The previous Borussia Dortmund participant has made only one England look since Euro 2020 and that got here as Southgate shuffled his squad for a 5-0 win in Andorra 12 months in the past, so he has fallen out of the image. However any likelihood he had of forcing means again into the squad now appears to have gone utterly.

Marcus Rashford: He was singled out by United supervisor Erik ten Hag for lacking two straightforward possibilities within the 1-1 draw at Chelsea and he was equally wasteful within the 2-0 win towards Spurs in midweek. Rashford’s ending shouldn’t be merely ok, however his tempo and expertise would possibly simply allow him to sneak into the squad to offer Southgate an affect sub in Qatar.

Raheem Sterling: The Chelsea ahead is assured a seat on the aircraft to Qatar, however his membership means he could also be shedding his grip on a beginning spot for the opening recreation towards Iran. Sterling was nameless and substituted within the United recreation and has now scored simply as soon as in his final 9 video games for Chelsea.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

This might be a very good week for Southgate with Manchester United defender Harry Maguire again in coaching and doubtlessly in competition for an look in Thursday’s Europa League conflict towards Sheriff Tiraspol. — Mark Ogden


FRANCE
Fixtures: Australia (Nov. 22), Denmark (Nov. 26), Tunisia (Nov. 30)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 9

STOCK CLIMBING

Ousmane Dembele: Unbelievable efficiency from the Barcelona winger on Sunday night time towards Athletic Membership. Dembele scored as soon as and assisted three different targets in Barca’s emphatic 4-0 win on the Camp Nou. This was his finest recreation of the season and he’s wanting sharp and at his finest on the proper time. With Varane’s harm, Didier Deschamps would possibly return to a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 formation and he would have an enormous position to play in it.

Antoine Griezmann: Now that his contractual state of affairs is sorted and he’s an Atletico de Madrid participant once more, he’s reborn! He was excellent once more on the weekend with two targets and an excellent show. He’s enjoying up entrance off Alvaro Morata, a task good for him and he’s virtually again to his finest degree too.

STOCK FALLING

Raphael Varane: This weekend has introduced one other blow to France with the harm of Varane. The centre again injured his hamstring and will likely be out between three to 4 weeks. It means he would miss Les Bleus’ first recreation of the match towards Australia. Will Didier Deschamps embrace him within the squad realizing this? It’s seemingly however his health will likely be a fear till the second recreation towards Denmark.

Olivier Giroud: After a mean efficiency towards Verona the earlier weekend, the Milan striker did not come on in any respect within the win towards Monza (4-1). It’s worrying as his place within the squad for the World Cup shouldn’t be nailed on but and he wants sturdy shows together with his membership to totally persuade Deschamps to take him to Qatar. Let’s examine if he begins towards Salzburg within the Champions League.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

One other week and one other piece of dangerous information for Didier Deschamps with the harm to Raphael Varane. The Manchester United centre again ought to nonetheless make the squad as a result of Deschamps wants his expertise and his management. After N’Golo Kante, it’s a blow. Nonetheless, total the French gamers are in nice kind as we might have talked about Adrien Rabiot, Youssouf Fofana, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku or Dayot Upamecano who’ve all shone within the final seven days. — Julien Laurens


GERMANY
Fixtures: Japan (Nov. 23), Spain (Nov. 27), Costa Rica (Dec. 1)

Squad announcement date: Round Nov. 11

STOCK CLIMBING

Jonas Hofmann: The Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder not too long ago injured his shoulder, and a few feared he may not be out there for the World Cup. However Hofmann has returned to operating coaching in latest days and is predicted to make a full restoration in time. The 30-year-old is vital to Germany’s plans, as nationwide coach Hansi Flick can use him in numerous roles on the precise facet — from right-back to proper winger.

Mario Gotze: The previous golden boy of Germany fell from grace years in the past, however following his return to the Bundesliga this summer season, he has regained the love from followers. As part of Eintracht Frankfurt’s energetic assault, the technician can as soon as once more present his extraordinary abilities and show that he’s nonetheless as gifted as he was when he first emerged on the skilled scene over 10 years in the past. Gotze has been included in Germany’s preliminary squad listing.

STOCK FALLING

Julian Draxler: Lacking on that listing is Julian Draxler. On account of his mediocre kind for a very long time and the truth that he has not persistently made the beginning XI of Benfica, which have loaned him from Paris Saint-Germain, Draxler is basically relegated to the standing of “former international.” The playmaker as soon as was one among Joachim Low’s favourite pupils, however Flick doesn’t appear to share the identical fondness for him.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

The preliminary squad listing that has been leaked to the media and will likely be slimmed down from 44 to 26 by 10 November consists of a few intriguing names, moreover those that are anticipated to steer the staff in Qatar, i.e. Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Thomas Muller. The 17-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko or 19-year-old left-back Luca Netz might be fascinating decisions given their uncooked expertise and carefreeness which, in a means, could be precious in shut video games on the most important stage potential. Germany doesn’t lack expertise, however placing the items collectively stays an enormous activity for coach Flick. — Constantin Eckner


SPAIN
Fixtures: Costa Rica (Nov. 23), Germany (Nov. 27), Japan (Dec. 1)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 11

STOCK CLIMBING

Ferran Torres: Two targets off the bench in every week — towards Actual Madrid in El Clasico and now in Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing of Athletic Membership — plus a midweek begin towards Villarreal could have Luis Enrique hoping Ferran has recovered his goalscoring contact simply in time for the World Cup. Spain lack dependable finishers and solely Alvaro Morata has scored extra targets for the nationwide staff than Ferran over the past two years.

Marco Asensio: Asensio’s lack of recreation time at Madrid would possibly make him an outdoor wager to make Spain’s squad, however he is carving out a helpful membership position as a game-changing affect sub which might be helpful in Qatar. Asensio scored his first LaLiga objective of the season towards Elche final Wednesday, after which impressed Madrid’s 3-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday by creating their essential second objective simply two minutes after approaching.

Alejandro Balde: Balde could be a shock late call-up given the competitors at left-back, with membership teammate Jordi Alba and Valencia’s Jose Gaya the 2 main candidates, however Balde’s Barcelona kind — beginning 9 video games in LaLiga and excelling towards Athletic on Sunday — is doing him no hurt in any respect. Luis Enrique has a observe document of figuring out and trusting in younger Barca gamers, too: simply have a look at Gavi and Pedri.

Kepa Arrizabalaga: Kepa has fallen from being Spain’s first alternative goalkeeper in 2019 to not even making latest squads, with Luis Enrique backing Athletic’s Unai Simon as his primary and Brighton’s Robert Sanchez and Brentford’s David Raya as two most popular back-ups who excel with the ball at their ft. Kepa’s constant performances for Chelsea over the past month — he is began all seven of their video games in October — would possibly simply give the coach pause for thought.

STOCK FALLING

Sergi Roberto: The Barca veteran was at all times going to be an unlikely candidate for Qatar, with Dani Carvajal and Cesar Azpilicueta anticipated to be Luis Enrique’s two choices at right-back. Sergi Roberto’s kind over the past week — particularly within the 4-0 win over Athletic — might need made him a dark-horse choice given his versatility, however a dislocated shoulder means he’s out for the foreseeable future. — Alex Kirkland


NETHERLANDS
Fixtures: Senegal (Nov. 21), Ecuador (Nov. 25), Qatar (Nov. 29)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 13

STOCK CLIMBING

Mickey van de Ven, Svet Botman & Xavi Simons: Van de Ven is the one area participant of Wolfsburg who did not miss a single minute thus far this season, as he is without doubt one of the quickest gamers of the Bundesliga. Sven Botman, who’s captain of U21 of Holland, has carried out nicely since he moved to Newcastle United. His physicality proves that he can compete with the massive names within the Premier League as the information reveals that he’s a part of the highest defenders in (aerial) duels gained. Xavi Simons impressed within the Eredivisie, as he’s the most efficient participant of PSV moreover key participant Cody Gakpo. No midfielder received concerned in so many targets (11) as Simons this season, the place he belongs to the highest phase speaking about created possibilities, pictures (on course) and duels gained.

Frenkie de Jong: He has performed his third consecutive match as a starter at FC Barcelona. Particularly midweek towards Villarreal he confirmed an impressive efficiency for his membership. Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), who’s a part of the group of Louis van Gaal, confirmed one other time that he needs to be a part of the ultimate choice. He scored his fifth objective of the season, which made him essentially the most scoring defender of all top-5 leagues in Europe, as no defender had extra profitable dribbles in comparison with the precise wingback.

Steven Berghuis: He’s one among — or perhaps simply an important participant for his membership. He scored twice and assisted one within the 1-4 win. Brian Brobbey was accountable for the 2 different targets. The 20-year-old gifted striker scores each 64 minutes (min. 5 targets in whole) within the league, which makes him the simplest participant within the historical past. Due to the win, Ajax created a spot of 4 factors as different opponents for the league title dropped factors.

STOCK FALLING

Tyrell Malacia: The defender stayed on the bench for the fourth match in a row within the Premier League. The Dutch gifted defender began strongly in Manchester however after a foul efficiency towards Man Metropolis and Omonia Nicosia, Erik ten Hag most popular Luke Shaw over Malacia.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Memphis Depay remains to be recovering from his hamstring harm. He will likely be again earlier than the World Cup, however individuals are questioning if he’ll play sufficient minutes so the striker will likely be on high of his kind. Memphis is an important participant (high scorer) of the Dutch nationwide staff. Marten de Roon needed to substitute himself as he suffered a hamstring harm final weekend. At this second it is unclear if he could make it to Qatar subsequent month. Luuk de Jong simply got here again from an harm. He is without doubt one of the potentialities to be a part of the ultimate 26 participant as an affect sub. — Max Toemen


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Ale Moreno praises Gio Reyna after Borussia Dortmund win 5-0 vs. Stuttgart within the Bundesliga.

UNITED STATES
Fixtures: Wales (Nov. 21), England (Nov. 25), IR Iran (Nov. 29)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 9

STOCK CLIMBING

Gio Reyna: The well being of the U.S. attacker has been on the thoughts of many U.S. followers for the previous 14 months, and when he hobbled off in final month’s pleasant towards Saudi Arabia after half-hour, these worries kicked into overdrive. However final weekend, Reyna scored his first objective in 421 days and performed 66 minutes. The efficiency hints that Reyna might but be counted on to begin matches for the U.S. in Qatar, the place his talent on the ball would offer a lift to the People’ assault.

STOCK FALLING

Ethan Horvath: Horvath wasn’t solely responsible for Luton’s 4-0 loss to Watford. The truth is, he made a couple of first half saves to maintain his facet within the recreation. However his reward of a move to Joao Pedro allowed the house facet to attain their third objective of the match, and put the end result past doubt. Horvath is in a battle with NYCFC’s Sean Johnson for the third goalkeeper spot, and with Johnson wanting sharp within the MLS playoffs, each error counts.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

After a brutal September, the month of October has introduced some hope that the U.S. — or a minimum of a few of its gamers — could be not solely therapeutic however peaking on the proper time. Along with Reyna scoring, Weston McKennie discovered the again of the web in Juventus’ 4-0 win over Empoli. Valencia’s Yunus Musah, Fulham’s Antonee Robinson and Lille’s Tim Weah proceed to see the sector after harm layoffs. The one downer was the truth that Tyler Adams missed Leeds United’s 3-2 defeat to Fulham on account of harm, however the ailment is not regarded as critical. There are actually just a bit over two weeks to go till the U.S. roster announcement on Nov. 9. — Jeff Carlisle


MEXICO
Fixtures: Poland (Nov. 22), Argentina (Nov. 26), Saudi Arabia (Nov. 30)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 13

STOCK CLIMBING

Kevin Alvarez: With reviews of Ajax scouts holding tabs on him on the Liga MX semifinal match, the 23-year-old right-back was instrumental in Sunday’s 1-0 victory for Pachuca over Monterrey that helped push the Liga MX membership into this week’s two-legged closing. After one other standout season in Mexico’s high flight, Alvarez seems set to ensure his spot in Qatar.

STOCK FALLING

Diego Lainez: Lainez has now gone three matches in a row in all competitions with out minutes for Portugal’s Braga. Regardless of proving to be a game-changer off the bench for Mexico in early 2022, a extreme lack of enjoying time in latest months might find yourself leaving him out of the ultimate World Cup roster. In the intervening time, he is on the surface wanting in.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Alvarez’s newest Liga MX playoff efficiency, in addition to that of fellow Pachuca/Mexico internationals Erick Sanchez and Luis Chavez, will likely be good news for nationwide staff supervisor Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Though it is surprising that Alvarez, Sanchez or Chavez could be starters for El Tri within the World Cup, they’re going to present much-needed depth within the growing older roster. — Cesar Hernandez


ARGENTINA
Fixtures: Saudi Arabia (Nov. 22), Mexico (Nov. 26), Poland (Nov. 30)

Squad announcement date: Nov. 13

STOCK FALLING

Angel Di Maria: Out of motion since choosing up an harm within the Champions League two weeks in the past, Angel Di Maria has angered Juventus followers by happening social media to put up a photograph of the boots he will likely be carrying in Qatar. Supporters of his membership replied that they wish to see him carrying his boots on the sector for Juventus, and reminded him that the membership pay his wages. However with such little time between the pause in membership motion and the beginning of the World Cup, it’s little marvel that Di Maria is without doubt one of the gamers who is sort of actually considering extra about his nationwide staff within the run as much as Qatar. — Tim Vickery


AUSTRALIA
Fixtures: France (Nov. 22), Tunisia (Nov. 26), Denmark (Nov. 30)

STOCK CLIMBING

Cameron Devlin & Kenny Dougall: Aaron Mooy and Jackson Irvine look like locked in for coach Graham Arnold’s squad in Qatar, however a mixture of accidents and an absence of minutes at membership for a lot of of his different midfield choices has opened the door for Devlin and Dougall to pressure their means into competition.

A daily a part of Robbie Neilson’s Hearts facet this season, Devlin returned from a red-card suspension and gained two penalties in his facet’s pulsating 4-3 loss to Celtic. Regardless of solely making his Socceroos debut in September is more and more being touted as a potential begin in Qatar ought to Ajdin Hrustic be dominated out with harm and Mooy strikes additional up the pitch.

Dougall, in the meantime, has been enjoying week in and week out throughout Blackpool’s midfield within the Championship and has registered two targets and an help in his final three video games.

Nathaniel Atkinson, Harry Souttar & Ajdin Hrustic: All potential starters, Atkinson, Souttar, and Hrustic have been underneath harm clouds as of late however the previous week introduced some promising information.

After fears he would miss the World Cup with an ankle harm, Neilson declared that Atkinson “won’t be out long-term” and he needs to be out there for the Socceroos in Qatar. Souttar, in the meantime, received by way of one other look with Stoke’s U23 staff in his restoration from an ACL rupture and is approaching a return to senior soccer.

Hrustic nonetheless stays underneath a way more important cloud however Arnold not too long ago advised The ABC that had spoken to the attacker and declared that “he’s very positive about the ankle. He’s already back walking on it.”

STOCK FALLING

Jason Cummings & Garang Kuol: On paper, lowly Perth Glory represented an ideal alternative for Cummings and Kuol to pad their case for choice however, sadly for the Mariner duo, each misfired as their facet did not pressure opposition goalkeeper Liam Reddy right into a single save within the final 70 minutes of a 2-1 defeat.

Needing to fill his boots throughout this early season stretch to persuade Arnold to take 4 centre-forwards to Qatar, Cummings will now need to do one thing particular within the closing two video games earlier than the squad is introduced to earn a spot. Kuol, in the meantime, could have important sentiment behind his case however will must be higher than he was towards Glory throughout these video games to justify a spot as an inexperienced off-the-bench weapon. — Joey Lynch


SENEGAL
Fixtures: Netherlands (Nov. 21), Qatar (Nov. 25), Ecuador (Nov. 29)

STOCK CLIMBING

Nicolas Jackson: He prolonged his wonderful kind with a 94th-minute winner as Villarreal defeated Almeria 2-1 in what turned out to be Unai Emery’s final match in command of the Yellow Submarine. The attacker had by no means began a high flight recreation earlier than this season, however has already had a hand in 4 targets and — regardless of not but being capped — might be primed to make a late run into Aliou Cisse’s squad.

STOCK FALLING

Kalidou Koulibaly: Absent for Chelsea’s weekend draw with Manchester United, Koulibaly continues to get well from a knee harm sustained towards Brentford and remains to be to return to coaching. The centre-back is predicted to be again in classes from the center of the week based on Graham Potter, however is unlikely to be risked for the Brighton & Hove Albion recreation on Saturday.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Cisse will likely be inspired by Cheikhou Kouyate’s sound defensive show in Nottingham Forest’s shock victory over Liverpool, with the towering campaigner a key factor of the engine room alongside Nampalys Mendy — steadily returning to favour underneath Brendan Rodgers at Leicester Metropolis — and Idrissa Gueye. Nonetheless, Koulibaly’s ongoing harm issues, in addition to Edouard Mendy’s fall from grace at Stamford Bridge, proceed to characterize main considerations. — Ed Dove


TUNISIA
Fixtures: Denmark (Nov. 22), Australia (Nov. 26), France (Nov. 30)

STOCK CLIMBING

Aissa Laidouni: The influential midfielder made his Ferencvaros return after over a fortnight sidelined with harm as they dispatched Puskas 4-2 away. He registered an help throughout an completed comeback, earlier than being changed simply after the hour mark as he works his means again to full health.

STOCK FALLING

Wahbi Khazri: Arguably Tunisia’s finest participant of the final decade, Khazri has fallen out of favour at membership degree at simply the unsuitable time for the Carthage Eagles, with new Montpellier head coach Romain Pitau not utilizing the summer season arrival in any respect as MHSC have been defeated 2-1 at residence by Lyon. Khazri hasn’t featured for Montpellier since October 15, and is and not using a begin since mid-September.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Khazri’s lack of kind is worrying, not least as a result of it is arduous to see precisely how he suits into Pitau’s new tactical schema at Montpellier. He is impressed at worldwide tournaments earlier than regardless of struggling at membership degree — notably on the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, whereas on Sunderland’s books — however will his Ligue 1 inactivity have an effect on him in Qatar? — Ed Dove


BELGIUM
Fixtures: Canada (Nov. 23), Morocco (Nov. 27), Croatia (Dec. 1)

STOCK CLIMBING

Thibaut Courtois: There was a time the place the again drawback of the Actual Madrid was a little bit of a fear however regular service has been resumed. Courtois is within the Actual Madrid travelling squad to Leipzig and he’s again match now. He’ll construct his health within the subsequent few weeks to be at his finest for the beginning of the World Cup. And Roberto Martinez is blissful.

Youri Tielemans: Lastly, you’ll say! After a tricky begin of the season, the Leicester midfielder is lastly hitting kind and on the proper time as nicely, only a few weeks earlier than the beginning of the World Cup. His objective towards Wolves on the weekend was sensational and his all-around efficiency confirmed that he’s virtually again to his finest.

STOCK FALLING

Eden Hazard: It’s staring to be a behavior for him to be on this class now sadly. He nonetheless does not play sufficient to reach in good kind on the World Cup. This final 30 days, the previous Chelsea star has solely featured 57 minutes for Actual Madrid. Lower than an hour in a month is dangerous. He has not performed the total 90 minutes of a recreation since December 2021. The state of affairs could be very worrying.

Thorgan Hazard: And issues should not significantly better for his youthful brother Thorgan both. The Borussia Dortmund winger has misplaced his place within the beginning XI and solely comes on for 20 minutes on the finish of video games (other than the German Cup the place he began). Is that sufficient to jeopardise his place on the World Cup?

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

There’s nonetheless lots of fear over Eden Hazard after all however in any other case, issues are wanting good for Belgium and Roberto Martinez. Final weekend, Kevin De Bruyne was nice with Manchester Metropolis, Divock Origi scored with Milan whereas 23-year-old Mike Tresor has an excellent recreation for leaders Genk towards Antwerp. Tresor has been nice thus far this season and might be Martinez’ shock within the squad. — Julien Laurens


MOROCCO
Fixtures: Croatia (Nov. 23), Belgium (Nov. 27), Canada (Dec. 1)

STOCK FALLING

Imran Louza: Following knee surgical procedure on the finish of final season, Louza had steadily begun to make his comeback for Watford earlier than catastrophe struck. The midfielder had reminded supporters of his class in latest weeks, however has once more been sidelined after choosing up an ankle harm towards Millwall. The 23-year-old has undergone surgical procedure on a damaged fibula, and can miss the World Cup. “Every team depends on one or two players, even the best,” mentioned Watford head coach Slaven Bilic. “Barcelona without Messi, Croatia without Modric. There is no one else like [Louza] in that position.” Morocco will likely be equally reeling from his loss.

Abde Ezzalzouli: One other addition to Morocco’s rising harm listing, the Barcelona wonderkid is now a doubt for the match after choosing up a muscle harm solely eight minutes into Osasuna’s draw at Girona.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd are nonetheless to make their harm returns for Besiktas and West Ham United respectively, with every week that passes giving the pair much less alternative to return to peak situation for the World Cup. A minimum of Yassine Bounou — who made some wonderful saves towards Actual Madrid, albeit in defeat — is in wonderful kind between the sticks. — Ed Dove


CAMEROON
Fixtures: Switzerland (Nov. 24), Serbia (Nov. 28), Brazil (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting: There might not be too many gamers heading to the World Cup in higher kind that a lot maligned Choupo-Moting, with the 33-year-old once more delivering one other masterclass on the weekend. He netted in Bayern Munich’s 2-0 victory at Hoffenheim to take his tally as much as 4 targets and an help in his final three matches, prompting Bayern director Hasan Salihamidzic to moot the potential for a contract extension.

STOCK FALLING

Jean-Charles Castelletto: Dropped from the beginning XI after one too many sub-par performances for Nantes, Castelletto was nonetheless handed a reprieve when he was launched as a 73rd-minute substitute — for compatriot and goalscorer Ignatius Ganago — with the Canaries successful 1-0 away. The centre-back’s main contribution was to deal with within the field, permitting Good to equalise from the spot by way of Nicolas Pepe within the 96th minute. The 27-year-old’s confidence will certainly be at a low ebb as he heads to Qatar.

HOW IS THE COUNTRY LOOKING

There’s speak of a brand new contract for Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa at Napoli as nicely, however all Cameroon followers will care about is seeing the midfielder again in motion as quickly as potential. He sat out the victory over AS Roma, however did a minimum of return to coaching final week. Choupo-Moting’s unlikely goalscoring renaissance — in addition to all he provides with out the ball — actually might give Cameroon one other dimension in assault, significantly precious contemplating Karl Toko Ekambi is and not using a objective in 5. — Ed Dove


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Mark Ogden explains why golf equipment are but to indicate curiosity in taking Cristiano Ronaldo on a free switch from Man United.

PORTUGAL
Fixtures: Ghana (Nov. 24), Uruguay (Nov. 28), South Korea (Dec. 2)

Squad announcement date: Round Nov. 10

STOCK CLIMBING

Bruno Fernandes: The Manchester United midfielder scored his first objective since August towards Tottenham Hotspur final week, and gained Man of the Match for his efficiency. If he can ship comparable well-rounded shows for his nation, he’ll be important to Portugal’s hopes for making it out of the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo: After being dropped for the 1-1 draw towards Chelsea, the 37-year-old is again in coaching with United’s first staff and would possibly make Erik ten Hag’s squad for the Europa League tie towards FC Sheriff. Ten Hag insists that Ronaldo is “an important part” of his squad. For the striker to be sharp for the World Cup, he’ll want as many minutes as he can get. — SherShah Atif


GHANA
Fixtures: Portugal (Nov. 24), South Korea (Nov. 28), Uruguay (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Richard Ofori: Influential goalkeeper and one among Ghana’s vice-captains, Ofori sustained an harm in motion for South African giants Orlando Pirates final weekend — threatening his participation in Qatar — however returned to full coaching on Monday and will make the lower.

STOCK FALLING

Alexander Djiku: One of many Black Stars’ beginning centre-backs, Djiku was withdrawn within the twenty sixth minute of Toulouse’s 2-2 residence draw with Strasbourg on Sunday, with the guests’ coach Julien Stephan later confirming he had a slight hamstring pull. Ghana will hope that his untimely withdrawal has prevented extra critical injury.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Djiku’s harm setback is lower than perfect, though in fact, Ghana are nicely outfitted within the coronary heart of defence with Mohammed Salisu lastly making his Black Stars debut not too long ago, and Joseph Aidoo and Daniel Amartey each excelling this weekend. Ailing-fated Abdul Rahman Baba’s return from harm — and to kind — for Studying additionally boosts the left-sided choices. — Ed Dove


SOUTH KOREA
Fixtures: Uruguay (Nov. 24), Ghana (Nov. 28), Portugal (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Kim Min-Jae: One other week gone, and one other week the place Napoli as soon as once more picked up most factors to stay high of Serie A — this time a hard-fought 1-0 win over Roma. And as soon as extra, South Korean defender Kim Min-jae enhanced his repute with a strong show within the coronary heart of the Napoli defence alongside Juan Jesus developing towards a formidable opposition pair in Tammy Abraham and Nicolo Zaniolo.

STOCK FALLING

Hwang Hee-Chan: With Wolves struggling within the Premier League, the truth that Hwang Hee-Chan remains to be discovering it troublesome to pressure his means into the beginning XI speaks volumes of the dire state of affairs he at present finds himself in a month out from the World Cup. Hwang’s place in Paulo Bento’s squad is unlikely to be underneath risk, however he might wrestle to make an affect given his latest lack of standard motion.

HOW THE COUNTRY IS LOOKING

Kim Min-jae reaching new ranges of efficiency with every passing week is a large increase for South Korea. Even developing towards the likes of Portugal and Uruguay, Bento’s confidence in them with the ability to maintain out on the again have to be rising with each recreation that Napoli — and Kim — play. It’s maybe now on the different finish of the pitch the place the Taegeuk Warriors are beginning to have considerations over, with Son Heung-min additionally not within the biggest of varieties thus far this season and the following different in Hwang not even getting onto the pitch for essentially the most half. — Gabriel Tan