Learning English Through Football Podcast: 2022 World Cup Preview: Groups A-D

On this football language podcast for learners of English, we preview four of the groups from the 2022 World Cup: Groups A-D. You can read the transcript for this podcast below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts – we have lots of World Cup resources too. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at admin@languagecaster.com.

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Learning English Through Football Podcast: 2022 World Cup Preview: Groups A-D

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DF: Hello everyone and welcome to Languagecaster.com – the football-language podcast for learners of English who love the beautiful game of football. I’m Damian and I am one half of the Languagecaster team and I am based in London, while of course the other member of the team is Damon who is based in Tokyo in Japan. And we’ll be hearing from Damon later on in the show as he gives us some of his predictions of the teams he thinks will progress from groups A through to D. Then he will be back previewing groups E to H in the next couple of days.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Welsh)

DF: Yes, you are listening to Languagecaster and that message was in Welsh – the Wales team will play in Group B of course; and we’ll be looking at that group in a moment. Right, the Qatar World Cup is just about to start and so on this show the Languaecaster team are going to look ahead to the tournament by going through the first four groups from the World Cup, that’s groups A to D. We’ll be looking at some of the language used to describe the teams from these four groups, including the names of the countries and their nationalities, their FIFA rankings and we’ll also be making some predictions about which two sides will progress or qualify to the knock-out stages of the tournament.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Dutch)

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DF: That message was in Dutch and the Netherlands are one of the four teams in Group A along with hosts Qatar, Ecuador from the CONMEBOL region in South America and African champions Senegal. Qatar are ranked 50 in the FIFA list although as hosts they have not played any qualifiers so this might not be a true reflection of their position. The Qataris are also the current Asian champions after defeating Japan 3-1 in the 2019 final and so will not be a pushover – we all know that the hosts of major tournaments tend to do better than expected. They open the tournament against Ecuador who finished fourth in the South American qualification to knock out Peru, Chile and Colombia. The Ecuadorian side will have some familar names for Premier League fans as three of their squad play at Brighton and although they are one of the youngest sides in the tournament, they might cause one or two surprises.

The Netherlands side, under 71-year old Louis van Gaal, are ranked 8th in the world and are favourites to top the group. They have amazing strength in depth in defence but maybe a weakness at goalkeeper with three very inexperienced players fighting for the number 1 shirt. The Dutch will surely qualify in top spot but how about Senegal? Well, the African champions have lost their talismanic striker Sadio Mané through injury which is a terrible blow for them. The Senegalese team made a breakthrough earlier this year when they defeated Egypt on penalties to win the AFCON and many thought they would go deep in this tournament. They still have very talented and experienced players but Mané’s absence will hurt the team ranked 18th in the world. Who is going through? Well, let’s hear what Damon has to say.

DB: Right, World Cup predictions and Group A. I’m going for Senegal, the Lions of Teranga, and the Netherlands to get through this group. Qatar and Ecuador will fight for third and fourth spot.

DF: I think I agree with Damon though I wonder will home advantage help Qatar?

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Iranian)

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DF: Now, that message was from one of our listeners in Iran who, of course, are involved with England, Wales and the USA in Group B. This is a group of rivalries with Iran versus America (Remember, they played before in 1998) and Wales taking on England making this a really interesting group. Fans of England may feel that this group is an easy one but actually based on FIFA rankings it is one of the toughest in the tournament. England are ranked fifth in the world and of course reached the semi-finals four years ago and were beaten finalists in the 2020 Euros last year. There are some questions over whether the team has already peaked after a poor year in which the goals dried up and confidence dropped. They do have Harry Kane though and he will be looking to add a second Golden Boot award to the one he collected in Russia.

How about Iran? Well, they are ranked 20th in the world – the highest Asian side – and are appearing in their sixth finals and Team Melli will have a familiar face in the dugout in Carlos Queiroz. They have a great striker in Porto’s Taremi, will no doubt have large numbers of fans in Qatar to support them and they will be well organised. They almost qualified from a group with Portugal and Spain in the last World Cup – in fact, I saw them defeat Morocco with a late winner in St Petersburg – but I wonder will they be able to do the same again this time round?

Wales are appearing in only their second World Cup finals and this one is 64 years after the last one. They qualified via the play-offs and are ranked 19th in the world. The Welsh side is a settled one – many of the same players that reached the 2016 Euro semi-finals in France are still there including their best player Gareth Bale and they will feel they have a chance of making the last-16. I wonder will it all come down to the last game of the group against England?

The fourth team in the group is the USA who are ranked 16th in the world and qualified from the CONCACAF group in third place behind Canada and Mexico. They have a young side – probably with one eye on the next tournament which they will co-host – but they will cause problems with their constant pressing, particularly in midfield, while Christian Pulisic will hope to provide the attacking threat. Can they qualify for the knock-out stage? It will be difficult especially as all four of the teams feel they have a chance of doing so. Let’s hear what Damon thinks:

DB: Well, I’m English and, I think England will win, and I also think Wales will qualify in this group.. they haven’t been there since 1958 and they got to the quarter finals, losing 1-0 to Brazil. Sorry Mehran, one of our listeners, but I don’t think Iran is going to make it through, or the United States, so Wales and England.

DF: I am not so sure about that. I don’t think Wales are going to make it – sorry to friend of the podcast Gavin for that – and I think the USA might just have enough. Their first game against Wales will be vital.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (from a Mexican fan)

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DF: OK, let’s take a look at the four teams in Group C. Argentina are ranked number 3 in the world and are currently on an unbeaten run of 36 matches. They are not only favourites to qualify as winners of Group C, they are also one of the main favourites to win the whole competition. If they do lift the trophy it will be the third time in their history but it would be the first time since 1986 – 36 years ago. Obviously, the main star of the team – and possibly of the whole tournament – is Leo Messi and the 35-year old will be playing in his fifth tournament. Other key players include Inter Milan’s Lauturo Martínez, Juventus forward Ángel Di María and goalkeeper Emi Martinez – Argentina concede very few goals mainly due to the Argentinian keeper.

Poland, who are ranked 26th in the world, qualified from England’s group and this will be their 8th World Cup. The Polish side had a poor World Cup four years ago but they performed better in the recnt Euros. They do of course have one of the best centre forwards in world football in Robert Lewandowski who seems to enjoy playing for the national team much more now. Their opening match against Mexico will be key and a win for either side will probably see them through.

Mexico are ranked 13th in the world and are appearing in their eighth straight finals after qualifying in second place behind Canada in the CONCACAF region. Remarkably, el Tri have been knocked out of the first qualifying match in each of the previous seven tournaments. But I wonder if they can actually get that far this time round – apologies to our friends from Multilingua F.C. They will have wonderful support but I am not sure they can overcome Poland in that crucial opening game. What about Saudi Arabia? Well, they are ranked 51st in FIFA’s ranking and are outsiders in this group. They will, however, have big numbers of fans supporting them in neighbouring Qatar and they have also been working together as a group for a long time before the tournament. I can’t see the Saudi side challenging the other three teams though. I wonder what Damon thinks?

DB: Group C. This is an interesting group, isn’t it. We’ve got Poland, ranked 26th and Mexico 13th. But I think Poland will get past El Tri and they’ll join Argentina in the round of 16. So, Saudi Arabia and Mexico going home.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Polish)

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DF: Right, that message was in Polish who were of course in Group C. Now let’s take a look at Group D which includes the current World Cup holders France. The French, ranked fourth in the world, were one of the favourites until recently but with their midfield two of Pogba and Kante missing and now star forward Karim Benzema having to pull out of the squad on the eve of the tournament the French side will be much weaker. It is so difficult to retain the World Cup – the last time any side did this was in 1962 (that was Brazil) so, although I think the French side will qualify for the next round I am not sure they will win again. The other favourites to qualify from this group are Denmark who recently reached the semi-finals of the 2020 Euros and actually beat France twice in recent Nations League games. They are many people’s dark horses for the tournament and with Christian Eriksen back playing in their side after his collapse in that European Championships, they will be even stronger. How about the other two sides? Well, Tunisia are ranked 30th in the world and qualified by defeating Mali 1-0 on aggregate in a play-off and the low scoring of this game gives an idea of the style of football that the Tunisian team will play – very much a counter-attacking side. I don’t think they have enough firepower to trouble teams here though. The same could be said about the Australian side who qualified for the World Cup via an intercontinental play-off against Peru. This will be the fifth World Cup in succession for Australia but like the previous four they will be hoping rather than expecting to qualify for the last 16 as they are very much the underdogs. Here’s Damon’s view.

DB: Group D. I’m going to go for the European sides again! It’s going to be France and Denmark, isn’t it? Although, we have to remember that four out of the five previous World Champions have been eliminated in the group stages, but I don’t think France will be. Denmark and France to go through; Australia and Tunisia to enjoy their World Cup experience.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (In Danish)

DF: Thanks to Damon for those predictions. What do we think will happen? Do you agree with Damon’s selections? How about mine? He will be looking at the remaining four groups in his World Cup preview later on this weekend.

El Quinto Partido

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DF: Now, we have already looked at Mexico’s chances of qualifying from Group C and Sergio from Multilingua F.C. has told us about a phrase that many in Mexico are using, ‘el quinto partido‘ or the fifth game. Here’s Sergio to explain more.

Sergio: Hello Languagecaster listeners and this is Sergio from Multilingua F.C.. And I am based in Mexico. So one of the most common expressions, especially during the World Cup, or the months before the World Cup in Mexico is El quinto partido, which literally means ‘The fifth match’. Let me explain a little bit about what El quinto partido means for us in Mexico. Mexico, we’ve think we’ve done quite well. Just ‘quite well’, during the last World Cups, probably the last eight World Cups. And the ‘fifth match’ is because during these last eight World Cups, we’ve had the same result in a World Cup; Mexico have lost eight times in a row in the round of 16. So, the national team normally do a very good first round group stage; they qualify to the second round, eight times. Only Brazil and Mexico have qualified to the round of 16 in the last eight World Cups. And… but the problem is that in the round of 16 something happens. We think it’s a kind of, I don’t know, kind of curse or something like this and Mexico have lost the last eight matches in the round of 16. So this ‘fifth match’ is very important for us, it has become a kind of obsession. The press, the players, the coaches, everybody’s talking about ‘the fifth match’. And well, that’s, that’s very, again, a very common expression and I wanted to share this expression with you. Because again, if you if you read the Mexican press, if you listen to the news in Mexico during the World Cup, or even if you happen to meet some Mexican fans in Qatar or somewhere else, we are… we are all obsessed with ‘the fifth match’. We really want to play ‘the fifth match’ that we haven’t played since 1986. Thank you.


I went to see Mexico play in the Brazil World Cup group stages against Croatia which the Mexican side won 3-1 in Recife and I really thought they would go far in that tournament. Unfortunately for them, they also went out to the Netherlands after extra time in the last 16 on that occasion. Thank you so much Sergio for that explanation – what a great phrase and good luck to the Mexican national team – fingers crossed they can make the ‘fifth match’ this time.

Now, if you have any other football language questions or want to describe any other football terms in any other language then let us know by adding a comment on our site here or by using our forum. Now, we’ve started a couple of threads about the World Cup where you can post your predictions or simply ask and answer questions about World Cup language. You can also send us an email at admin@languagecaster.com and look out for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in French).

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was in French and we’d love to hear from anyone else who might like to share this message, ‘you are listening to Languagecaster’. Don’t forget that there’s a transcript to this podcast and there’ll be a short worksheet that practices some of the nationalisties and rankings, while there’s lots of vocabulary support which you can access by coming along to our site – just click on the links in the transcript.

2022 World Cup Predictions Competition

2022 World CupOK, there is still time to join our World Cup predictions tournament – we have around 50 so far; lots of fans from around the world playing in this Predictions competition where you can guess the scores of all the matches from the Qatar tournament. It’s very easy to play – simply register (for free), choose your results and click on the save button on our site here, B, C and. You can, of course, change the scores right up to kick off time and we will be offering some book tokens as prizes – so, come along to our site and fill in your scores.


OK, that’s it for this World Cup football-language podcast in which we looked ahead to groups A, B, C and D. What do you think of our predictions? As I mentioned, Damon will be here with his preview on Groups E to H and of course we will be back with some more language about the beautiful game right the way through the tournament. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast and to join in the football-language conversations on our forums. Enjoy all the football this week, this month, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye bye!

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