World Cup 2022 score predictions: Chris Sutton predicts the opening round of group games in Qatar

Chris Sutton's predictions
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

BBC Sport football expert Chris Sutton is predicting the outcome of all 64 games at the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

He starts with the opening games in each group, which sees holders France take on Australia, plus England versus Iran and Wales against the United States.

Sutton also picks his two teams to go through from each group into the knockout stage.

He is backing Brazil to win the World Cup, believes England will reach the quarter-finals and thinks Wales will not get out of their group.


Sunday, 20 November
Qatar v Ecuador x-x 0-1
Monday, 21 November
Senegal v Netherlands x-x 0-2

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks: Netherlands (winners) and Senegal (runners-up). Ecuador to finish third, and Qatar fourth.

Qatar v Ecuador

Qatar v Ecuador (20 November, 16:00 GMT)

Qatar have to hope that home advantage pays off for them, but I very much doubt it. It’s going to be very difficult for them to get out of this group – in fact, I think they will finish bottom.

Ecuador are quite a defensive-minded team so there won’t be many goals in this opening game, but they should still find a way of winning it.

Sutton’s prediction: 0-1

Senegal v Netherlands

Senegal v Netherlands (21 November, 16:00)

I am at this one – this is the first game I’m co-commentating on for BBC Radio 5 Live at the World Cup.

Sadio Mane is out of the tournament which is a huge blow to Senegal. They won the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year but they struggled to score goals, even with him in the team.

Senegal are defensively strong and don’t concede many either, but that lack of cutting edge might cost them if they get to the knockout stages.

I’m very confident the Netherlands will reach the last 16 though, and I think they could surprise a few people at this tournament.

It sounds odd saying the Dutch are dark horses here because they traditionally have such a strong international side, but I am not so sure that has been the case in recent years.

You look through this team though, and they have so many talented players. If they click, they can go far – and they should get off to a winning start here.

Sutton’s prediction: 0-2


Monday, 21 November
England v Iran x-x 1-0
Monday, 21 November
USA v Wales x-x 2-1

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks: England (winners) and United States (runners-up). Iran to finish third, and Wales fourth.

England v Iran

England v Iran (21 November, 13:00)

This is not arrogance but I am expecting England will win all their group games and am hoping they build some momentum as the tournament progresses.

Having said that, the centre-back position terrifies me and I think everyone is waiting to see if Gareth Southgate will go with three or four at the back, and whether Harry Maguire starts against Iran.

There is a strong possibility Maguire may do, but he has not played enough games for Manchester United this season so is he going to use these group games to work his way back to sharpness? England need to win them, and they cannot afford any mistakes.

Iran drew with Portugal at the last World Cup so this should not be seen as a pushover, and they are well organised with a threat up front in the shape of Porto striker Mehdi Taremi.

England have more quality throughout their team, but I don’t think they will find it easy, especially in their first game.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-0

USA v Wales

USA v Wales (21 November, 19:00)

For me, it’s all on this first game for Wales about whether they reach the last 16 or not, and what worries me most is the fitness of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen.

Wales have got some other capable players and they will be trying to find Kieffer Moore and get the likes of Daniel James and Brennan Johnson running off him.

That worked in qualifying but, to make an impact in Qatar, they really need big performances from Bale, Ramsey and Allen and I am not sure they are in the shape to do that. I am also not sure yet who could step up if they don’t.

If Wales win this game, I think they go through – but I don’t think they will. The United States are a young team and most of them are new to a World Cup too so it will be close, but I’m going for the US to edge it.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-1


Tuesday, 22 November
Argentina v Saudi Arabia x-x 3-0
Tuesday, 22 November
Mexico v Poland x-x 0-0

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Argentina (winners) and Mexico (runners-up). Poland to finish third, and Saudi Arabia fourth.

Argentina v Saudi Arabia

Argentina v Saudi Arabia (22 November, 10:00)

Saudi Arabia got thumped 5-0 by Russia in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup and they must be worried they are going to get the same treatment now from Lionel Messi and co.

Messi is the story of course, and everyone is talking about whether this will be his year, but the whole Argentina team are playing well, scoring lots of goals and on a long unbeaten run – that will not be under threat here.

Sutton’s prediction: 3-0

Mexico v Poland

Mexico v Poland (22 November, 16:00)

Mexico have got an experienced side but they have not been in great form of late.

Poland are not exactly flying either, and their hopes really rest with Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski and Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski, who has been terrific this season.

So, this group is hard to call. I’m going for Mexico to take second place behind Argentina, but I think they will start with a draw.

Sutton’s prediction: 0-0


Tuesday, 22 November
Denmark v Tunisia x-x 1-0
Tuesday, 22 November
France v Australia x-x 2-0

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks to go through: France (winners) and Denmark (runners-up). Australia third and Tunisia fourth.

Denmark v Tunisia

Denmark v Tunisia (22 November, 13:00)

Tunisia’s strength is at the back and Ellyes Skhiri, who sits in front of their defence, is a key man for them.

Denmark’s main task will be to break them down, but I am expecting Christian Eriksen to find a way through.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-0

France v Australia

France v Australia (22 November, 19:00)

Australia have not picked West Bromwich Albion midfielder Tom Rogic, which is a mistake. His former Celtic team-mate Aaron Mooy did make the squad though, and his experience will help.

Graham Arnold’s side come into the World Cup on the back of five consecutive wins, so they will be as confident as they could be… at least until they run into France.

As I’ve said, the holders are my tip to win it again. It would be a big shock if they didn’t start with a victory.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-0


Wednesday, 23 November
Germany v Japan x-x 1-2
Wednesday, 23 November
Spain v Costa Rica x-x 3-0

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Spain (winners) and Japan (runners-up). Germany third and Costa Rica fourth.

Germany v Japan

Germany v Japan (22 November, 13:00)

People are calling Group B the group of death based on team rankings but this one seems much harder.

Most people will probably expect Germany to join Spain in the last 16, but don’t underestimate Japan, who have got some talented technical players.

I am just not sure about this Germany side. They might gel in Qatar but their erratic form in the past 12 months or so suggests they could be something of a soft touch – Japan will have some chances here.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Spain v Costa Rica

Spain v Costa Rica (22 November, 16:00)

Spain have got some exciting young talent in midfield. I worry about them a bit defensively, but Costa Rica are unlikely to provide too severe a test.

Costa Rica are quite a direct side when they do attack but they usually sit deep, and they are another side who don’t score a lot of goals.

Sutton’s prediction: 3-0


Wednesday, 23 November
Morocco v Croatia x-x 1-1
Wednesday, 23 November
Belgium v Canada x-x 2-0

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Belgium (winners) and Croatia (runners-up). Morocco to finish third and Canada fourth.

Morocco v Croatia

Morocco v Croatia (23 November, 10:00)

Morocco were the hipster team at the 2018 World Cup and were unlucky to go out at the group stage. They still play open and expansive football so they should be just as entertaining this time around.

This is a tricky one to call because they might just get something out of Croatia, who have got some younger players to go with the experience of the survivors from the side that reached the final in 2018. I am not sure yet what to expect from them.

This is a group where nothing would really surprise me, although on paper you would think at least one of the two European teams goes through.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Belgium v Canada

Belgium v Canada (23 November, 19:00)

Forget Morocco because Canada are the hipster team at this tournament, and it is good to see them back at a World Cup for the first time since Mexico 1986.

I have got them down as finishing fourth in Group F but I am not ruling them out of causing a shock or two if Alphonso Davies is fit and Jonathan David can get among the goals.

Belgium are quite an obvious choice as group winners and they should certainly win this opening game, but I have got reservations about them in defence – Roberto Martinez still relies a lot on Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who are both getting on a bit now.

Going forward, there are a couple of doubts too. Romelu Lukaku is carrying an injury and it feels like a long time since we saw Eden Hazard at his best – so they are probably not going into this World Cup as strong as they were at the last one.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-0


Thursday, 24 November
Switzerland v Cameroon x-x 1-1
Thursday, 24 November
Brazil v Serbia x-x 2-1

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Brazil (winners) and Serbia (runners-up). Switzerland to finish third and Cameroon fourth.

Switzerland v Cameroon

Switzerland v Cameroon (24 November, 10:00)

Switzerland knocked France out of Euro 2020 on their way to the quarter-finals but I don’t see them having the same impact at this World Cup.

Xherdan Shaqiri has been their go-to man for the past few years but he is playing in the MLS now so a lot will rest on the shoulders of Granit Xhaka – who has been superb for Arsenal this season – and young Red Bull Salzburg striker Noah Okafor, who is definitely a player to watch.

Let’s face it, these two sides and Serbia are probably playing for second place in the group behind Brazil – but I don’t think Cameroon’s defence is quite strong enough to get them through to the last 16.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Brazil v Serbia

Brazil v Serbia (24 November, 19:00)

Serbia don’t have that much strength in depth in their squad but they have got so many talented players in their strongest XI, and at set-pieces they will be a big danger.

They might give Brazil a scare or two here, although I am not expecting any surprises with the end result.

Brazil are in excellent form, and have only lost one of their past 29 games – the 2021 Copa America final against Argentina.

Neymar is the best diver at this World Cup but he is scoring lots of goals too – and we will probably see him do a bit of both over the next few weeks.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-1


Thursday, 24 November
Uruguay v South Korea x-x 1-1
Thursday, 24 November
Portugal v Ghana x-x 3-1

Sutton’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Portugal (winners) and South Korea (runners-up). Uruguay third and Ghana fourth.

Uruguay v South Korea

Uruguay v South Korea (24 November, 13:00)

This is an extremely open group and I changed my mind a couple of times about who would go through.

Uruguay’s aging frontline of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani counts against them, but South Korea lack a cutting edge too despite being able to control games through their possession.

We don’t know if Son Heung-min is able to start this game against Uruguay, but his form for Spurs was patchy this season even before he fractured his eye socket.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Portugal v Ghana

Portugal v Ghana (24 November, 16:00)

At number 61 in the world, Ghana are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and this is a difficult game for them to kick off with.

Portugal have got some world-class players in their squad but I am not sure how things will fit together with Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been in awful form for Manchester United and has thrown his toys out of the pram. He seems to be blaming everyone else for that, rather than himself.

At 37, Ronaldo is not the player he once was, but he will be desperate to perform well at this World Cup after what has happened in the past few months.

He loves to be the centre of attention but now he has to let his football do the talking, which he hasn’t done this season.

Sutton’s prediction: 3-1

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