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The U.S. will face England in the World Cup's group stage

Lothar Matthaus draws the card of USA in Group B during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw on Friday in Doha, Qatar.
David Ramos
Getty Images
Lothar Matthaus draws the card of USA in Group B during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw on Friday in Doha, Qatar.

Updated April 1, 2022 at 2:03 PM ET

The 2022 World Cup is starting to take shape with the official draw complete in Doha, Qatar. Former international soccer stars drew balls from hoppers, setting the fates of the 32 teams that will compete to hoist the cup in December.

The United States men's team drew a spot in Group B, meaning the squad will face off against England, Iran and the winner of a European playoff — setting up a challenging run for the U.S. squad and possibly earning the designation of "group of death."

Group E, featuring Spain, Germany and Japan, will certainly be among the tournament's most difficult.

Mexico drew a spot in the formidable Group C, playing Argentina and Poland as well as Saudi Arabia.

Each team will play the other three teams in the group once, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the next stage, the single-elimination knockout round.

Twenty-nine teams have already clinched their spots in the tournament. Three of the spots that were drawn are placeholders for those that will go to the winners of upcoming playoff matches.

The fourth member of Group B will be Scotland, Wales or Ukraine, depending on which country wins the playoff games scheduled for June.

Before the draw, the 29 teams and three placeholders were divided into four pots of eight teams, based on their FIFA world rankings.

Pot 1 had the seven top-ranked teams, along with Qatar, the host. This will be Qatar's first World Cup as a participant.

The U.S. looks for redemption after failing to qualify last time

The U.S. secured its spot in the World Cup earlier this week, taking third place in continental qualifying after Canada and Mexico. It will look to redeem itselfafter failing to qualify for the tournament four years ago.

"You want to play the best of the best" on the world stage, said U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie on Fox Sports 1 after the draw.

"Those aren't going to be easy games," McKennie said. "Those are games we're going to have to learn how to win and pull results out of."

The U.S. is currently the 15th-best team in the world based on FIFA's rankings, while England is fifth and Iran is 21st. Wales, Ukraine and Scotland are 18th, 27th and 39th, respectively.

No two teams from the same continental association could be in the same group, except for European teams.

Usually the World Cup is held in July. But due to the blistering summer heat in Qatar, the 2022 tournament will be held in November and December.

FIFA barred Russia from competition, including World Cup qualifiers, after it invaded Ukraine. In brief remarks before the draw, FIFA President Gianni Infantino called for peace and dialogue, but did not mention Russia or Ukraine by name.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.