Team Quality – How Well Do the Players Gel?
The quality of a nation going into a tournament and the strength of their squad are seen by many as the most important factors that are likely to define the result of any game. While this makes sense the process of assessing a nation’s strength can be subjective. These players don’t play together as frequently as club players do, so there will always be unknowns when the squads come together. Will they gel and unite, or will they take time to find their rhythm – something that the 28-day tournament doesn’t allow for. When assessing a nation’s overall quality there is no single method but key metrics to consider would be: player quality, team depth, unity, calibre of the coaching staff, playing style and their consistency when performing in high-pressure knock out tournaments.
Player Form – Are the Star Players at their Bests?
Another area to deep dive into when making your bet is to look at the form of individual players. No team can rely solely on one player, and equally no player can succeed without the support of their teammates so coaches will be hoping their stars across the field find their feet early. Assessing a player’s form will vary depending on their position. For forwards you will be looking for goals scored. For midfielders you will be looking at their assist and passing ratio and for defenders and goalkeepers your focus should turn to clean sheets and for the latter, saves made. Given the tournament in Qatar will be taking place in the middle of the European football season for the first time, supporters will have a chance to see how their favourites are performing in the league. While club form acts as useful indicator there is always a question as to whether that can be translated onto the international stage with their fellow countryman.
Player Injuries – Will a Key Player Be Missing?
A further factor to consider is injuries. Some players are susceptible to knocks and sprains and while this can often be managed over longer club season football, it is harder to manage during short knock out tournaments such as the World Cup. This is a particularly interesting factor to consider when placing a bet on markets such as top goal scorer. Will you wait for the tournament to begin, or will you place a wager early on – running the risk that your star man could land in injury with their club and never even step foot in the tournament.
Team Form – How Have They Performed in Recent Games?
The form of a nation is another great metric to consider when trying to select your favourites for the tournament. However, this must always be considered in context. Many see the European qualification process to be far more challenging and competitive than that of Asia, simply down to the calibre of the nations. Therefore, while the likes of Saudi Arabia and Iran both enter the tournament as winners of their respective groups in qualifying, they are still expected to struggle when faced with some of football’s heavyweights in the likes of Uruguay for Saudi Arabia and England for Iran. When talking about form, it’s Argentina who are currently getting everybody chatting, boasting the longest winning unbeaten streak in international football. Entering the tournament as one of the favourites, could this be one time when current form really does translate into final success? Only time will tell.
Heat and Fatigue – Will The Europeans Cope?
Fatigue and exhaustion are one of the most challenging aspects that face the modern day footballer. Taking place in the middle of the European football season many see this as an advantage for players who should be entering the tournament slightly fresher than they usually would after a long and often gruelling season with their clubs. While the extreme summertime temperatures in Qatar of 40 degrees Celsius will be avoided the average daytime temperature is still expected to be in the region of 29 degrees Celsius. While teams from Asia and South America should find this easy, it’s worth considering how their northern hemisphere counterparts will fair. Before placing any bets it’s worth considering how players and teams match up with this context in mind – it could be one factor behind an upset or two.
Preparation – Can The Players Work Together?
In previous World Cups, players have always had several weeks to prepare with the top European leagues including the English Premiership, Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga all wrapping up in May. However, the longer preparation time is something that players and nations will not be afforded this year. With the tournament taking place in November and December and to limit the impact on club football, footballs governing body has instructed that players will only be called up one week prior to the tournament kicking off on Sunday November 20th. This means there will be no pre-tournament friendlies and countries will have limited time to drill their squads. Will this prove a disadvantage and throw out an upset or two or will we see players carry over their form from club football into the national team squads?
Travel –Are Long Journeys Detrimental to Form?
For many, travelling to the World Cup in Qatar will not be straightforward. From Europe, it can be up to an eight-hour flight and from the Americas that can be doubled. Given the limited turnaround time from players’ final games for their clubs to the start of the tournament, this is certainly a factor to consider. However, unlike many previous tournaments Qatar is much smaller. Compared to the tournaments that were hosted in Brazil and Russia where the stadiums were thousands of miles apart, the situation in Qatar will be very different. For context, 48 US states are larger than Qatar and the eight stadiums set to host the world’s most iconic football tournament are all located inside a 30-mile radius of the capital, Doha. But does travel really make a difference? Well history would suggest an emphatic yes.
In 2014, when the tournament was hosted in Brazil, team USA racked up an astonishing 8,880 miles during the group-stage whereas at that same World Cup Germany logged just 1,300 miles after building their own training camp to limit their travel – they then went on to become tournament winners – the first time a European team has done so in South America. Was this solely down to travel? No. However, it was undoubtably an important factor and is again a reason why looking at how teams and their respective players will arrive Doha is something worth taking into consideration.
The Pandemic – Will Players Be Forced to Withdraw?
Lastly, we can’t ignore the Pandemic. While many nations are learning to live with the challenge, cases across the globe are still widespread. While we don’t expect the tournament to be cancelled there could well be instances where individual players are forced to pull out should they become un-well during the tournament.
Bringing Everything Together
Once you’ve done your research and considered some of the factors that could impact the performance of teams and players at the tournament, you will be well positioned to place your bets. But we must remember, the best team does not always walk away as the winner. It’s the unexpected nature of football and the real possibility of a surprise package coming to the forefront that keeps fans across the globe locked in debate and on the edge of their seats.
Matches are often decided by small margins and while thorough research can help limit your bets failing, you will never be able to eradicate all risk. However, with thorough assessment you can hopefully win more than you lose when placing bets on the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.