Next year, for the first time ever, we will be served up a winter World Cup, with the 2022 tournament in Qatar set to kick off in November.
The competition will be the final World Cup to feature 32 teams before FIFA increase the countries involved to 48 for the 2026 tournament – which will be jointly-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States.
There are several qualification paths around the world for the tournament, and some nations have already secured their ticket to the Middle East. Here’s your one-stop guide to every team that has qualified for the 2022 World Cup so far, as well as a short explainer about the finer details of the competition…
This one should surprise nobody. As hosts, Qatar were the first team to ‘qualify’ for the tournament and they have invested heavily in their national side since winning the bidding process in 2010.
At the time they were awarded the World Cup they sat 112th in the FIFA rankings, below the likes of Uzbekistan, North Korea and Kuwait.
Since then they have risen into the top 50, even beating Japan in the Asian Cup final back in 2019. Qatar will be hoping to avoid embarrassment in front of their home crowd.
Germany became the first team to actually qualify for the 2022 World Cup when a 4-0 victory over North Macedonia in November ensured that they could not be caught at the top of Group J.
Die Mannschaft will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing Euro 2020, where they were dumped out at the round of 16 stage by eventual finalists England.
Hansi Flick took over following that underwhelming display and the former Bayern Munich man has his side playing some nice stuff.
Denmark had a truly memorable Euro 2020 campaign, losing Christian Eriksen early in the tournament before reaching the semi finals, where they lost to England.
While the Inter midfielder is yet to return, the Nordic nation steamrolled their way to World Cup qualification in his absence with eight wins in their first eight games, with their pathway sealed by a 1-0 victory over Austria.
They’ve scored 27 goals so far and are yet to concede at the other end. Truly remarkable stuff.
Brazil continued their streak of being the only team to compete in every World Cup, sealing qualification with a victory over Colombia in November 2021.
In truth they made light work of the majority of their CONMEBOL rivals this time around and must be considered one of the favourites heading into the competition proper.
World champions France became the fifth team to book their place in Qatar, with a resounding 8-0 win over Kazakhstan ensuring they will defend their title.
Didier Deschamps’ side have responded magnificently to their disappointing Euro 2020 exit to Switzerland. Les Bleus have since won the UEFA Nations League finals and have torn through the rest of their qualifying group.
Belgium have qualified for their third-successive World Cup, and will be looking to build on their third-place finish in Russia in 2018.
Roberto Martinez has been linked with several jobs in the Premier League and La Liga, but the Red Devils have soldiered on regardless of that speculation and have topped qualifying Group E.
Croatia sealed their place at the showpiece in Qatar with victory in a straight qualification shootout against Russia in Split.
2018’s runners-up had to win to pip the Russians to top spot in Group H and secure automatic qualification, and a scrappy, nervy contest was aptly decided by a late own goal from Fyodor Kudryashov. The 1-0 defeat consigned the visitors to a play-off place.
Spain qualified for the World Cup top of Group B in qualifying, despite Sweden running them close.
La Roja secured their place in Qatar with a victory over Sweden in Seville in their final qualifier, winning 1-0 courtesy of a late Alvaro Morata goal.
The biggest surprise of European qualifying by some stretch.
Serbia ensured their place at the 2022 World Cup in the most dramatic fashion, with Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring a last-minute header to snatch a 2-1 victory over Portugal in a must-win game for the Serbs in Lisbon.
The visitors came into the clash level on points but with an inferior goal difference to their hosts, who had just needed to avoid defeat to secure qualification for Qatar.
England did not experience too many problems in World Cup qualifying but their fate still technically hung in the balance on the final matchday in Group I.
The Three Lions knew they needed a point against part-timers San Marino to progress but they managed all three, courtesy of a nearly-historic 10-0 victory.
They go into the tournament as one of the favourites for sure.
Switzerland and Italy went into the final matchday level on points at the top of Group C – but it would be the lower-ranked nation who secured automatic qualification.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Co beat Bulgaria 4-0, while the Azzurri slumped to a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland.
Switzerland will be hoping to build on their promising Euro 2020, when they knocked world champions France out on penalties.
They made hard work of it, but the Netherlands have qualified for the 2022 World Cup.
The Dutch required two late goals behind closed doors in Rotterdam to see off Norway, who had to win themselves if they wanted to snatch automatic qualification.
Turkey’s victory over Montenegro means the unfortunate Norwegians actually slipped all the way down to third and miss out altogether.
Argentina became the second South American team – after rivals Brazil – to ensure qualification for the World Cup in November.
They did not experience too many bumps along the way, if you ignore that time some of their players got detained by Brazilian health authorities of course.
The 2022 World Cup will kick off on 21 November with the curtain coming down on 18 December with the final.
Games will be played in eight stadiums across five host cities: Al-Rayyan, Al-Khor, Lusail, Al-Wakrah and the capital, Doha.
For the first time ever, the World Cup will not be held in its traditional European summer slot.
That’s because FIFA have recognised that the soaring temperatures in Qatar – which can reach upwards of 50c (122f) – coupled with the high humidity will make conditions exceptionally difficult for players and spectators.
To compromise, organisers decided that November was the most suitable time to host the tournament.
The staging of the World Cup in November is obviously a disruption to the footballing schedule as we know it, namely the Premier League.
England’s top division is one of few leagues around the world that does not usually incorporate a winter break into their calendar, but the 2022/23 season will be different.
The Premier League have agreed to pause on 12 November, allowing players just over a week to prepare with their national teams before the World Cup begins, before resuming just under six weeks later on Boxing Day.
To fit the break in, the season will start earlier than usual – on 6 August – and will finish slightly later than the traditional mid-May slot.