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FIFA World Cup: Big guns blazing in Qatar as champions take to the field

France, Germany and Spain launch their 2022 campaigns

FIFA World Cup | FIFA World Cup 2022 | Qatar

Debarghya Sanyal  |  New Delhi 

France players during the warm up before the match at Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo: Reuters)
France players during the warm up before the match at Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo: Reuters)

It’s a day of big openers at the 2022, being hosted in . Defending champions France, and the past two winners — Germany and Spain — launch their 2022 campaigns today.

France has already registered their first win against Australia, trouncing the Kangaroos 4-1 at the Al Janoub stadium. It was the Australians who would fire the opening shots nine minutes into the game, with a beautiful crossfield pass from Harry Souttar to Craig Goodwin who, with the lightest of touches, sent the ball zooming over French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and past the goalposts.

With the defending champions on the back foot, Australians looked to push their advantage but found themselves boxed in repeatedly by the French defence. This was when Les Bleus decided to strike back. At the 26-minute mark, Adrien Rabiot headed in a Luca Hernandez pass, levelling the score. From here on, with the wind back in their sails, the French went on a furious attack. Olivier Giroud scored twice — once after 32 minutes and again in the second half in the 71st minute. Star striker Kylian Mbappe chipped in with the third French goal of the day at 68 minutes.

The win in their Group D match gives France 3 points on the board and a net goal difference of 3, as well.

Later in the day, across two Group E fixtures, Germany is set to clash with Asian giants Japan, while Spain will take on Costa Rica.

Seeking to put behind their dismal performance in Russia 2018, Germany will kick off their World Cup 2022 campaign against Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday. Die Mannschaft was eliminated from the group stage four years ago, while their Asian counterparts were on the verge of stunning Belgium in the last 16 before being eliminated. An underwhelming record of just two wins from their last eight games has not served to increase the German confidence, as they finished third in their Nations League group with Italy, England, and Hungary before beating Oman 1-0 in a warm-up friendly, last Wednesday.

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a difficult few years for La Roja by their own high standards, being eliminated in the group stage of the 2014 competition, losing two of their three matches in the finals, before exiting in the round of 16 last time out. But while Spain has found it difficult to impress in their two World Cups since lifting the trophy in 2010, Costa Rica reached the quarter-final stage of the 2014 competition, which is their best performance in the finals.

Even though the big guns battle with faltering form, fans hope their presence on the field will truly and fully kick in the World Cup fever, setting up interesting Group E equations over the next few weeks.

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First Published: Wed, November 23 2022. 11:36 IST