Monday 04 April 2022, 12:00

Inter title-winners set for Group F reunion

  • Lukaku, Brozovic, Perisic and Hakimi played together with Inter Milan in 2020/21

  • Together, they helped win the club’s first Scudetto in over a decade

  • Now they are set to face up each other with Belgium, Croatia and Morocco at Qatar 2022

One group thrown up by Friday’s Final Draw for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ includes four men who helped transform the fortunes of a famous club. That section is Group F, where Belgium, Croatia, Morocco and Canada will do battle, and in which Romelu Lukaku, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic and Achraf Hakimi will be reunited. This quartet contributed significantly to the revival of Inter Milan, and in particular to a memorable Serie A title success in the 2020/21 season.

Antonio Conte seemed to bring the best out in each of them before his Scudetto-winning squad began to crumble, with Lukaku and Hakimi deciding to move elsewhere last year.

While the Belgian striker returned to Chelsea and a club he had supported since childhood, the Moroccan moved to Paris Saint-Germain as part of a summer splurge that also brought the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and a certain Lionel Messi to the French capital. Croatians Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic are, however, still teammates at Inter, and a story posted by the former on social networks underlined the enduring friendship between four players who will find themselves pitted against each other at Qatar 2022.

Croatians look to go one better

Brozovic and Perisic remain two of Inter's key men and are continuing to lead the team’s 2021/22 title charge. In addition to their club successes in Milan and elsewhere, the duo came agonisingly close to winning the last FIFA World Cup in 2018. Both were key players throughout Croatia’s campaign, with Perisic scoring a vital equaliser against England in the last four and then drawing his team level in the Final itself. While the latter goal proved to be in vain, as France ran out 4-2 winners, Zlatko Dalic’s team have qualified for Qatar 2022 and are ready to take another shot at glory.

Dalic himself spoke enthusiastically last year of the influence their Inter experience has had on Perisic and Brozovic, praising Conte’s management in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Antonio Conte was important for both of them,” said the Croatia coach. “Ivan is playing very well both up front and further back. This means that Conte was clear in his instructions and that Perisic is smart and willing to sacrifice himself for the team. “And one of Marcelo's key skills is flexibility; he can play in different positions. I see him as a defensive midfielder, because he has an instinct to recover balls, great intelligence and rhythm.” The only question now: will Brozovic and Perisic’s Croatia dominate Group F, or will we see them edged out by Belgian and Moroccan teams inspired by a couple of old friends?