With Argentina’s classification in first place in Group C at the Qatar Cup, Brazil may have only world champions ahead of them on the way to the dreamed sixth championship. If they also finish in first place in their group, the G, the Brazilian team will be on the same side as the Argentines in the key.
By crossing, if confirmed the first place in their group, which they would get with a simple draw with Cameroon, on Friday (2), Brazil will face second place in Group H. As Portugal has already won two games, it has everything to stay first. The second spot is contested by the other three teams in the group: Ghana, South Korea and Uruguay. If the Uruguayans, twice champions (1930 and 1950), beat Ghana, and Korea does not beat Portugal, the spot will go to the South Americans.
If they advance to the quarterfinals in this scenario, Brazil will face whoever passes the confrontation between the first place in Group E, Spain and Germany, and the second in Group F, Croatia and Belgium. The Spaniards won the Cup in 2010, while the Germans are four times champions.
The last round of Group E will be tomorrow, and Spain are favorites to stay in first place. It has four points, against three for Japan and Costa Rica, and one for Germany. If you beat Japan, it leaves the way clear for Germany to qualify by beating Costa Rica.
The other quadrant of the semifinal is already defined, composed of teams from Groups A to D. The Netherlands, which was first in group A, takes on the United States, while Argentina faces Australia. The Argentines won the Cup in 1978 and 1986, were runners-up in 2014, and have the last chance to give Lionel Messi a cup. If successful, they would rival Brazil in the semi-final (assuming the Brazilian team also advances).
The other side of the bracket already has two guaranteed former champions. England takes on Senegal and, if they pass, they face whoever qualifies between France and Poland. An eventual European derby between the English could define one of the semifinalists. The other quadrant will have the other teams advancing from the groups that are yet to be defined, including Spain and Germany and, possibly, Portugal.
But it is possible that France, world champions in 1998 and 2018, will reach a Cup final with strength. With that, it could complete a path — hypothetical at the moment, but possible — of only world champion teams on Brazil’s route in search of the sixth.
And in the story?
The World Cup has held knockout rounds from the round of 16 onwards since 1986. The World Cup in Qatar, in this way, is the 10th that has this dispute system.
Of all champions to date, two had campaigns with more traditional opponents (read “world champions”). Argentina, in 1986, faced Uruguay, England and Germany. And the German team, in 2014, left the French, Brazilians and Argentines on the way.
The campaigns of the winning teams in each of the World Cups since 1986, when the current dispute system began to apply:
France, 2018 champion – 2 knockout champions (ARG and URU)
Argentina (eighth), Uruguay (quarter), Belgium (semi-final) and Croatia (final)
Germany, champion in 2014 – 3 champions (FRA, BRA and ARG)
Algeria (eighth), France (quarter), Brazil (semifinal) and Argentina (final)
Spain, champion in 2010 – 1 champion (ALE)
Portugal (eighth), Paraguay (quarter), Germany (semifinal) and Holland (final)
Italy, champion in 2006 – 2 champions (ALE and FRA)
Australia (eighth), Ukraine (quarter), Germany (semi-final) and France (final)
Brazil, champion in 2002 – 2 champions (ING and ALE)
Belgium (eighth), England (quarter), Turkey (semi-final) and Germany (final)
France, champion in 1998 – 2 champions (ITA and BRA)
Paraguay (eighth), Italy (quarter), Croatia (semi-final) and Brazil (final)
Brazil, champion in 1994 – 1 champion (ITA)
USA (round of 16), Netherlands (quarter), Sweden (semi-final) and Italy (final)
Germany, champion in 1990 – 2 champions (ING and ALE)
Netherlands (eighth), Czechoslovakia (quarter), England (semi-final) and Argentina (final)
Argentina, champion in 1986 – 3 champions (URU, ING and ALE)
Uruguay (eighth), England (quarter), Belgium (semifinal) and Germany (final)