By Matias Grez, CNN
Spain and Germany will face off in the main act of the 2022 World Cup group stages after the tournament draw in Doha on Friday.
Group E is undoubtedly the most intriguing, with the Spaniards and Germans joined by Japan and Costa Rica or New Zealand, with their playoff tie-breaker scheduled for June 13 or 14.
Germany will certainly be hoping the match will be nothing like the previous encounter between the two nations, as Spain went wild in a 6-0 win in the 2020 Nations League.
Host country Qatar will face Ecuador in the opening game of the World Cup and will also be joined by the Netherlands and Senegal in Group A.
Qatar have relatively recent experience of playing against South American nations after being invited to the 2019 Copa America. The Qataris acquitted themselves well, putting Argentina to work hard for a 2-0 victory and securing a well-deserved point against Paraguay.
France, winners of the 2018 and 1998 World Cups, were drawn into Group D with Denmark, Tunisia and the winner of an intercontinental play-off – either Australia, the United Arab Emirates or Peru.
Group B also offers a number of interesting clashes, with 2018 semi-finalists England taking on the United States, Iran and one from Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.
The last time England played the United States at a World Cup was in 2010 – and it’s a game that still gives England fans nightmares.
A calamitous error by then goalkeeper Rob Green gave the Americans an equalizer after Steven Gerrard opened the scoring for England.
Ghana were also offered some kind of revenge after being drawn in Group H alongside Uruguay.
In 2010, Luis Suarez infamously used his hands to block Dominic Adiyiah’s effort down the line in the dying seconds of their quarter-final.
Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing penalty – leading Suarez to run into the tunnel in celebration – and Uruguay eventually reached the semi-finals after a penalty shootout.
Portugal, with Cristiano Ronaldo likely at his last World Cup, and South Korea complete Group H in what will perhaps be one of the most difficult groups to predict.
Qatar 2022 will also likely be Lionel Messi’s last World Cup for Argentina. Like Ronaldo, the 34-year-old has never won the World Cup but came dreadfully close in 2014, losing to Germany in the final.
Under Lionel Scaloni, the Argentines are in a much better position than they were four years ago in Russia and will certainly be confident of emerging from a group that includes Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
Canada’s reward for qualifying for a first World Cup in 36 years is a showdown against two of European football’s main protagonists in recent years. Belgium, longtime world number one until recently dethroned by Brazil, and 2018 runners-up Croatia will provide stern tests.
So will Morocco, which boasts talented stars such as Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and PSG’s Achraf Hakimi.
Friday’s ceremony was hosted by actor Idris Elba and sports broadcaster Reshmin Chowdhury and was attended by 2,000 guests.
The draw itself was led by former players Carli Lloyd, Jermaine Jenas and international sports presenter Samantha Johnson.
They have been aided by a number of football greats including Brazil’s Cafu, Germany’s Lothar Matthäus, Iran’s Ali Daei, Nigeria’s Jay-Jay Okocha and Australia’s Tim Cahill.
Full World Cup draw
Wales or Scotland or Ukraine
Peru or United Arab Emirates or Australia
Costa Rica or New Zealand
The World Cup begins on November 21 and is scheduled to end on December 18.
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Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.