Halfway through 2022 and cruising towards 2023 at a seemingly breakneck speed, the air tastes different, and it’s all because of one pending affair – the FIFA 2022 World Cup. World sport’s most significant competition kicks off on November 21 in Qatar, assuring us of a month of top-class sporting ecstasy till December 18, when they play the showpiece final. Thirty-two teams will battle it out in those air-conditioned stadia in Doha, each willing to shed blood, sweat, and tears to be the one hoisting the prestigious trophy. As inconsistent as modern football is, there are a few teams we expect to give the most thrills this year. These are the A-class teams seemingly bathed in stardust, coached by the best trainers, and boasting the biggest names on the world soccer stage. Here are our top five picks!
England In 2022 World Cup
Soccer originated in England. It may sound like a big jest given how the English national team has fared for over half a century, but it’s scientifically, indisputably true. The beautiful game was invented in England, spreading like wildfire to other parts of the world once spectators realized what fun it was to kick a round ball around. Many other nations have surpassed England in playing entertaining soccer, but that’s no reason to discount them at the 2022 World Cup. The last trophy they won was the 1966 World Cup, and with each passing year, pressure mounts on the Three Lions to soothe English hearts with at least another piece of silverware. There would be no better consolation for their fans than returning from Qatar 2022 with the biggest trophy.
Argentina In 2022 World Cup
Argentinian football seems to be on the rise again. Much like England, the Argentines have had their share of disappointments down the years since that magical, if contentious, Maradona-inspired World Cup success in ’86. In fact, before 2021, they’d also not won a major trophy since 1993, despite having a mega-player like Lionel Messi in their ranks for a vast stretch of that time. The 2021 Copa America triumph, against perennial rivals Brazil no less, has felt triumphant indeed. At least Messi does not bow out without a significant honor for La Albiceleste – that would’ve been a travesty, certainly. Pictures of the striker crying his eyes out final after final had become all too common, a sight too harrowing even for his rivals to stomach. Argentina followed up the 2021 Copa success with a commendable qualifying campaign and a resounding 3-0 victory over Italy in the 2022 Finalissima. Messi and co. are here; they’ve not tasted defeat for 33 international fixtures back to back. About the 35-year-old to leave his mark on what is ostensibly his last World Cup.
France In 2022 World Cup
For France, the 2022 World Cup is not just a chance to win the trophy but a possibility to achieve something exceptional. Only twice has a World Cup winner defended their title, the last time being Brazil in 1962. Following their magnificent victory at Russia 2018 World Cup, winning again in Qatar would allow Les Bleus to conserve their status as world champions for four more years. Given that it’s been 60 years, each French player will feel they’re on the cusp of greatness. They’ll leave no stone unturned in Qatar – not that there are likely to be any stones on those new pitches in Doha! That said, France will, however, need to beware of the curse of the defending champions. The last four European winners have been out of the competition in the succeeding tournament – all in a row.
Spain In 2022 World Cup
Every World Cup year has quiet favorites and “loud” favorites. Spain is the soft favorite. They can’t afford to shout, crow, or bray too loud. They took the trophy home in South Africa in 2010 and followed it up with victory at the 2012 Euros. Since then, however, they’ve had precious little to brag about. In addition, the current Spanish squad boasts plenty of youthful exuberance but seemingly not enough of the wily experience that guides a team to international success. The likes of Gavi, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Eric Garcia, and Pedri are exciting to watch, yes, but, on the face of it, look more like an under-21 lineup than the sort you would expect to be slogging it out in the Qatar sun against men almost twice their age. On the other side, however, they’ve all had fantastic club seasons in 21/22 and are some of the most sought-after talents in Europe today. Seeing as their seniors have not done too well in recent years, Spain will hope fresh, young blood does the trick.
Brazil In 2022 World Cup
Brazil has the shortest odds of winning the 2022 World Cup and is ranked the world’s #1 team by FIFA. If that doesn’t tell you everything, you need to know, consider that they’ve conquered the World Cup a record five(!) times. The team played in twenty-one tournaments, with 79 teams contesting. Of those tournaments, how many times have Brazil featured? All 21 times. It is the world’s most successful national side – 9x Copa America, 5x World Cup, and 4x Confederations Cup – with 18 major trophies. Still not convinced? Look at their form in World Cup Qualifying. The CONMEBOL Table will tell you that Brazil has played 17, winning 14 and losing zero of their matches to finish top with 45 points – 6 clear of Messi’s Argentina, which finalization is on the way. If they win the rescheduled qualifier against Argentina this year, they’ll finish 9 points clear. They have a top defense (Thiago Silva, Marquinhos), top midfield (Fabinho, Casemiro), top attackers (Neymar, Firminho, Vinicius Junior, Raphina, Richarlison, Antony), and top keepers (Alisson and Ederson). They have a head coach too! The man to mentor this star-studded cast is Tite. He’s a vastly experienced tactician and means business. World, you’ve been warned.