Brazil – Will They Win Their Sixth Title?
Let’s start with one nation that needs no introduction – Brazil. Having won the tournament five times already, The Seleção are looking to go one better and deepen their already distinguished history by walking away with a sixth trophy. Looking at the odds, they are certainly one of the front runners. Despite their illustrious record, it has been twenty years since Brazil last lifted the trophy. However, with their star striker, Neymar, in unrivalled form and a squad backed with names such as Liverpool’s Fabinho and Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus there is no doubt the South American heavyweights are entering high on confidence. Drawn in Group G, they will face Serbia, Cameroon, and Switzerland – three teams that should cause no concern for Brazil and allow them to hit the ground running when the tournament kicks off.
England – Will Football Ever Come Home Again?
In recent years, the Three Lions have been growing in strength, finishing fourth at the 2018 World Cup and most recently reaching the final of European Championships – only to miss out to Italy in the dreaded penalty shootout. However, no England fan will need reminding that it’s 56 years since they last tasted success at footballs most prestigious tournament – a title which they have won only once back in 1966. So, what suggests that Qatar 2022 will be any different? Firstly, manager Gareth Southgate is bringing a talented squad – filled with young and hungry attacking options with the names of Manchester City’s Phil Foden or Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham needing no introduction, the latter having scored the most Champions League goals by any English teenager. In addition, they will be bringing experience in names such as Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson to the tournament. Placed in what is seen by many as a winnable Group B, alongside Iran, USA and Wales, their fans will be hoping this squad take their chance to prove their status on the global stage and walk away as winners rather than the nearly-men they have become known for.
France – Will They Make it Two in a Row?
Les Bleus are the current holders and they are once again heading into the World Cup as one of the outright favourites. The two-time winners will open the tournament in Group D with Australia, Tunisia, and Denmark – none of whom on paper at least should cause a problem for coach Didier Deschamps’ men. So, where if any does the doubt lie for France. Well firstly, they are entering off the back of what was a second-rate Euros for the French – falling short to Switzerland on penalties after letting a 3-1 lead slip away. Another challenge for Deschamps is how he can gel the recent arrival of new talent in names such as Olympique Marseille’s duo of William Saliba and his club counterpart, 23-year-old Matteo Guendouzi. Will France fiercely defend their title, or will the pressure get to them? Only time will tell but they are certainly ones to keep a close eye on.
Argentina – Will Messi Lead Them to a Third Title?
Turning our focus back to South America and another one of the tournament’s two-time winners, we take a look at Argentina. For a country which has been graced with some of the finest talent to play the game in names such as Diego Maradona, Carlos Tevez & Gabriel Batistuta, their return of only two world cups is seen by many as a disappointment. However, the signs suggest that Qatar 2022 could well be a new mark in their history books. Currently on the longest unbeaten run-in international football at 32 matches and current Copa America title holders, they will enter the tournament with high hopes. They also have Lionel Messi, a man that needs no introduction and is seen by many as the greatest footballer of all time. While we won’t go into that debate now – if their star man is on form, he’s able to turn games on their head and is another reason why Argentina is seen by many as likely contenders to go far and even win this year’s tournament.
Spain – Will They Return to Form?
Since the European greats last ran out as winners in 2010, they have had some difficult times, but may experts are once again tipping the Spanish to taste World Cup glory. Their first challenge will be to successfully navigate their group which includes Costa Rica, Japan and a team that needs no introduction – Germany. Described by many as the group of death it won’t be a gentle start for Luis Enrique’s men, but many suggest this could be in their favour as they will be made to find their feet and hit the ground running in the Middle East. This is a team that isn’t a favourite but should not be discounted. So, while they offer a risk, it’s not a significant one and the rewards could be greater should you choose to back La Furia Roja.
The Best of The Rest – Will There Be an Upset?
Sitting outside of the outright favourites are a few nations that will need no introduction in the likes of Germany, Portugal the Netherlands, and Belgium. All these teams have reason to believe they could be hoisting the trophy aloft in Qatar so are certainly worth considering if you are tempted by a wager that has slightly longer odds and therefore a chance for greater returns.
Germany will be looking for their new coach, Hans-Dieter Flick to continue his revolution since taking over in 2020. As expected, he has Die Mannschaft well drilled, and his squad are yet to lose under him – can they maintain their form on the world’s biggest stage?
Leading the drive for Portugal will be their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo in what is expected to be his last tournament and therefore, last chance to add a World Cup winners medal to his esteemed trophy cabinet. While there are a lot of ifs and maybes about this team, if the likes of Joao Felix and Bernardo Silva can step up then Portugal have more than an outside chance to lift the trophy.
Expected to reach the knockout phase and facing a battle with Senegal to top Group A, the Dutch will be hoping Louis van Gaal can inspire them to glory. With a strong defence, thanks to names such as Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt they will be tough to beat. The unknown is whether their attacking options led by the likes of Memphis Depay will find the form they need to pose a real threat.
Lastly, we give an honourable mention to Belgium. Reaching the semi-finals in 2018, this is seen by many as the last chance for their golden generation to taste success. If Roberto Martinez’s men can find their form and stars such as captain Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Kevin De Bruyne show the ability that they have for their clubs then the Red Devils could prove themselves as more than outside dark horses.
A Thrilling Tournament Awaits
So, there we have it – a run-down of some of the nations heading to Qatar, touted as favourites or strong outside bets. Will you snap up some longer odds pre-tournament or wait for proceedings to begin to see how nations fair in the early stages of the group matches? The choice is yours and while we expect several of the teams mentioned to be battling out for success in the latter stages, if history teaches us one thing it is that there is always a surprise package.