22WC-HTW-BEL_CAN

Canada’s highly-anticipated World Cup return officially arrives Wednesday when they begin Group F play against Belgium, meeting southwest of Qatar’s capital city.

How to watch and stream

  • TV: FOX & Telemundo in United States; TSN in Canada
  • Streaming: Foxsports.com, Peacock in United States; TSN GO in Canada

When

Where

  • Ahmad bin Ali Stadium | Al Rayyan, Qatar

Les Rouges enter as Concacaf champions, surprising the region by finishing above both the United States and Mexico in qualifying. That sealed their first World Cup trip in 36 years.

Against Belgium, points are at a premium for head coach John Herdman’s team to avoid an uphill climb in upcoming Group F fixtures against Croatia (Nov. 27) and Morocco (Dec. 1).

The Red Devils slot No. 2 in FIFA’s World Rankings, making this Canada’s toughest game in years. They already enter the 2022 World Cup as longshots.

Player health is front of mind for every nation during this rare November/December World Cup, and Canada are no exception.

Injury question marks hang around Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies and Porto midfielder Stephen Eustáquio, the program’s top two players by most measures. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC homegrown product is recovering from a hamstring strain, while Eustáquio and even goalkeeper Milan Borjan appear to be carrying knocks.

Some gamesmanship might be at play by Herdman, but one guarantee is there’ll be a heavy MLS presence on display for Les Rougues. A league-leading six players from CF Montréal are on their roster, with defenders Alistair Johnston and Kamal Miller two centerpieces from the rising Eastern Conference club.

Fresh off a 2-1 tune-up victory over Japan, Canada will have some confidence they can make noise in Qatar. But the lights will soon shine brighter, and the stage gets bigger, for a country that’s watched the past eight World Cups from home.

Only Group F’s top two teams reach the knockout stages and by Wednesday afternoon the team’s outlook will be far clearer.

On paper, Belgium are capable of going all the way in Qatar. Their roster has superstars like Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard – all world-class talents.

But the Red Devils are a fallible group, losing back-to-back games against the Netherlands (1-0, UEFA Nations League) and Egypt (2-1, friendly) before arriving at the World Cup. That’s all raised some worries around manager Roberto Martinez’s squad, which has an aging defense and injury concerns with Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku.

That may be searching for holes in a top-end squad, though, as Belgium placed third at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and have made the quarterfinals of two straight European Championships. This golden generation has trophy potential and experience.

Make no mistake: Belgium are the Group F favorite, and there’s even an MLS connection to watch for with former New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry as an assistant coach. D.C. United striker Christian Benteke wasn’t called in.

BetMGM Odds

Belgium are deemed clear favorites, per BetMGM.

  • Canada win: +525
  • Draw: +333
  • Belgium win -200

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