The FIFA World Cup 2022 has arrived. The biggest showpiece event there is in world football returns to enthral us. The following 29 days will be a lot of fun for football lovers as quality football will be on show.
Come the 18th of December, there will be one team though who will be smiling at the end of the day and all 32 teams come into this World Cup hoping to be there on the podium that day next month.
Barcelona have a record representation at the World Cup this time around with as many as 17 players representing their nations in the showpiece event. If we include the loanees, the Spanish club have 19 representations in Qatar over the next month.
Here at Barça Universal, we take a look at each and every Barcelona player who will be in Qatar for the World Cup, with a surprise inclusion in the list.
Billed as one of the pre-tournament favourites for the World Cup, Argentina finally have a strong squad capable of challenging the very best for trophies.
Unbeaten in 36 matches, the South American outfit come to Qatar in very good form. No current Barcelona player plays for Lionel Scaloni’s side, but arguably the greatest ever happens to, and it would be rather rude to make this list without him.
Messi might have left Barcelona for PSG a couple of seasons ago, but he still remains permanently etched in the hearts of all Barça fans. The former number 10 goes into what is his last ever World Cup, and this is probably his best chance to win it.
What Messi has this time that he never did before is a well-functioning team but there is absolutely no doubt as to who their main player is. The 35-year-old has had an impressive domestic season with PSG and hopes to carry that form into the showpiece event.
A whopping eight Barça players are set to represent Spain in the World Cup in Qatar, and most of them are set to be guaranteed starters. It is a throwback to the 2010 World Cup when La Roja became champions with the same number of Barcelona players representing them back then as well.
Luis Enrique’s side are one of the strongest teams going into the World Cup and the former Barcelona manager has put in a lot of faith in youngsters over a few established names. Spain is inarguably the best team to keep an eye out for as a Barça fan.
It is tough being Eric Garcia. It always feels like there is a knife hanging over his shoulder with many critics still not convinced that the talented young centre-back deserves to be at the World Cup.
However, the important thing for Eric is the fact that Luis Enrique trusts him, and there is a high chance that he is set to partner one of Aymeric Laporte or Pau Torres as the starting centre-back partnership for La Roja in Qatar.
Managers tend to really appreciate Garcia’s prowess on the ball and in a possession dominant team like Spain, the 21-year-old could turn out to be one of Spain’s crucial players at the World Cup and end up silencing all his critics.
After an indifferent start to the season with Barcelona where the incumbent left-back lost his spot to the young Alejandro Balde, Alba has returned to form at just the right time and continues to be important for Spain.
He is set to be the starting option at left-back, especially in the absence of Jose Gaya and Spain will need his timely runs and accurate cut-backs into the box when they attempt to break down teams that sit in a low block.
When Luis Enrique said in the build-up to this event that he aims to convince the Barcelona captain to play for at least one more World Cup, there is no doubt that there would have been people who scoffed at the Spanish manager.
Busquets has not had the smoothest of seasons with Barça but he continues to be an important player for Xavi Hernandez and Luis Enrique. Spain’s captain for the tournament, the defensive midfielder will have a familiar midfield in front of him to work with and will be hoping to silence some of his critics.
It speaks volumes about Gavi’s talent when one realises he is set to be a starter for Spain at the World Cup at the age of just 18. Already a regular starter for Barça as well, the teenage sensation will be hoping to continue his good form in Qatar.
A dynamic presence in midfield, Gavi will feel comfortable playing alongside Pedri with the duo really working well for Barcelona as well. The teenager’s energy and pressing will be very useful for La Roja, irrespective of whether he starts or comes off the bench and he is one of the players to look out for in the tournament.
What do you say about Pedri? At 19, he is no longer even considered a rising star and is already put in the same bracket as the very best in the world. The former Las Palmas man is the heartbeat of Luis Enrique’s team.
Pedri mesmerized one and all with his performances for Spain in the Euros when not many people knew about him and there is no doubt that he will be La Roja’s most important player in Qatar. It goes without saying that he is a player to watch out for as well.
The most controversial inclusion of them all, Luis Enrique himself admitted that the call to include the Barcelona number 10 was a last-minute one as one is still not sure about the physical readiness of Fati.
However, the prodigiously talented Barça forward put all doubts to bed in the pre-World Cup friendly against Jordan with an impressive display and Lucho admitted that he was surprised by Fati’s form.
It is unlikely that Fati will be a regular starter for Spain at the World Cup but he can be the perfect moments player for La Roja and his goal-scoring ability will really help a team that generally creates a lot of chances but struggles to finish them off.
Just like Alba, Ferran is yet another player who really hit the straps just before the World Cup. A confident Ferran is a different beast and his unbelievable attacking runs could be a dangerous weapon for Spain to exploit in the World Cup.
Despite all the criticism he gets, Ferran continues to be the manager’s favourite for club and country and it is clear that they value him a lot. The only criticism about the former Man City man is that he needs to be more clinical in front of the goal, and that would solve a lot of problems for Spain.
Ferran will likely be a regular starter for Lucho’s side and he could turn out to be the player who defines this World Cup for Spain.
Six months ago, not even in the wildest of dreams would Balde have thought that he would have been on the plane to Qatar to play for Spain in the World Cup but the stars have aligned for La Masia’s latest star.
Not a part of the initial squad, Gaya’s injury meant that Luis Enrique called up Balde for the World Cup and he is set to play second fiddle to Alba. As he has shown in his club career though, he is more than capable of holding his own as a starter and can even play on the right at times.
After failing to qualify for the World Cup last time around, the Netherlands are back and they have an impressive team. They might not be genuine contenders, but the Oranje army are more than capable of springing a surprise
He may not be a Barcelona player for much longer with Memphis Depay constantly being linked with an exit from the club but the former Lyon man continues to be Netherland’s most important player and biggest attacking threat.
However, Memphis is coming into this World Cup off the back of a long-term injury and has not featured for Barça in a long time. He might be rusty, and it remains to be seen how he performs for Louis van Gaal’s team.
Frenkie de Jong
An unbelievable midfielder, De Jong at his best is absolutely unstoppable. He has been in sensational club form this season and will want to carry that into the World Cup and put in an impressive shift.
The heartbeat of the Dutch midfield, de Jong is capable of playing as a six or as a part of a double pivot or even further forward as an interior. The former Ajax man is an expert at running with the ball, and he can be one of the best players on show in Qatar.
Poland might not have the best of teams going into the World Cup, but they have one of the best goalscorers of all time leading their line, and he happens to lead Barcelona. However, that may not be sufficient, and except for the odd upset, they are unlikely to travel far in Qatar.
Lewandowski joined Barcelona in the summer from Bayern Munich and has quickly established himself as one of the best players in La Liga. The Pichichi leader as things stand, the Polish superstar will be his country’s biggest threat in Qatar.
The 34-year-old might not get as much service as he is used to at Barca but Poland are a good crossing team and he will be hoping to get on the end of some of the crosses that his teammates send in. Regardless, it seems too mammoth a task for Lewa to pull off on his own, but he will definitely give his everything to take Poland as far as he can.
The defending champions are arguably the unluckiest team to play in this World Cup with Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku all missing through injuries. They still have a strong squad on paper capable of going all the way in Qatar.
Arguably Barcelona’s most improved player over the past year, Dembele is a different beast now. He has had a great start to the season, continuing from where he left off and has improved his goalscoring record as well.
With Karim Benzema injured, Dembele might find himself tasked with a starting role in Didier Deschamp’s team he would look to feed a willing runner like Kylian Mbappe in front of him and wreak havoc at the World Cup.
Kounde is one of the most talented young centre-backs in Europe. The former Sevilla man has had his fair share of injury troubles this campaign but finds himself fit for the World Cup.
The advantage with Kounde is that he can fit in easily at centre-back and right-back and can also play on the right side of a back-three depending on how Deschamps decides to line up. In the absence of Presnel Kimpembe, he could end up having a more prominent role in Qatar than he would have expected.
Denmark impressed one and all with their unbelievable run in the Euros last year and are set to be the underdogs of this World Cup. Although they might not have as many big names as some other teams, what Denmark have is a well-functioning system and huge things are expected of them in Qatar.
The former Chelsea defender joined Barcelona on a free transfer this summer and his performances have somewhat gone under the radar. Christensen is a solid centre-back and will be hoping to hold fort alongside Simon Kjaer in the Danish backline.
Christensen was injured for a significant period of time but returned in time for Barça’s last two matches before the break. He will be hoping to stay fit and continue his impressive club form in Qatar.
Germany have a very different look from the team that lost to England in the Euros last year and Hansi Flick has changed a lot of things during his tenure as the boss. They might not be the strongest team on paper but have what it takes to go all the way in Qatar.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen
The best Barcelona player this season, ter Stegen goes into the World Cup as arguably the best goalkeeper in the entire world on form. However, that still will not earn him a starting berth in Hansi Flick’s team.
The Barça shot-stopper will have to play second fiddle to captain Manuel Neuer and will be hoping to continue his club form if he is ever given a chance to play in Qatar.
Early pre-tournament favourites along with Argentina, Brazil arguably have the best squad on paper going into the World Cup. They will be hoping to go all the way and they are more than capable of winning the cup.
The former Leeds player has had his struggles selling into life in Barcelona but he will be confident going into the World Cup after the sensational goal that he scored in the game against Osasuna to give Barça a late win in the game just before the break.
Raphinha is likely to be Brazil’s starting option in Qatar on the right wing and he will be hoping to put in an impressive performance for Tite’s side with his creativity on the ball and impressive finishing.
Uruguay are one of those teams that do not have a squad to challenge for the title but have a squad good enough to cause upsets and make it beyond the group stages at the very least. They will be one of the dark horses this tournament.
It is a miracle that Araujo has even made the World Cup squad but he is unlikely to play for Uruguay at least in the group stages. The centre-back underwent surgery but has returned in time to make the trip to Qatar.
If Uruguay make it past the group stage, Araujo could be one of the team’s important players due to his ability to play at centre-back and right-back but Barcelona will be hoping that their star defender is not rushed into action.
Morocco are not expected to do much in the World Cup and find themselves in the same group as better teams like Belgium, Croatian and Canada. It will be a miracle if they even make it out of the group.
The talented Barcelona winger who is out on loan at Osasuna for the season, Abde has the talent to be a regular starter for Barça in the future. He will be hoping to make an impression for Morocco in Qatar, which could potentially decide his future in Catalonia – or elsewhere.
United States of America
USA have a young, talented team but they might still not be ready to make serious progression in the World Cup. They will be hoping to make it out of the group and cause some upsets along the way but that’s about how far they can get.
Yet another Barcelona player who is out on loan at AC Milan, Dest might not have a future at Barça but he remains on the club’s books for the time-being. There are question marks over his fitness but if fit, Dest will be one of USA’s important players in Qatar.