Who will win the FIFA 2022 World Cup? Since Uruguay won the first ever edition of the FIFA World Cup on home soil in 1930, only seven other nations have lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy as World Cup winners in 21 editions of the tournament.
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While the usual suspects are likely to be the main contenders in Qatar once again, there’s two European neighbours who loom as a dark horses to add their name to arguably the most prestigious list in world sport.
Here are our top contenders to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
The Seleção are favourites with most bookmakers and arguably the most talented team in the tournament on paper. The players in their likely starting XI all ply their trade at the world’s biggest football clubs, so it’s unlikely they will be overawed by the big stage.
They boast an embarrassment of riches in the attacking third, with captain Neymar, Real Madrid rising star Vinicius Jr., Barcelona forward Raphinha and Tottenham striker Richarlison all capable of creating goals and finding the back of the net themselves.
Their central defensive pairing of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, along with goalkeeper Alisson provide security at the back, while overall team chemistry shouldn’t be a problem, after an undefeated qualifying campaign.
Can Lionel Messi cement his legacy as the greatest of all-time by leading the Albiceleste to World Cup glory? That’s the fairytale many neutral observers are hoping for (unless they’re die-hard Cristiano Ronaldo fans, of course!).
This will be Messi’s fifth World Cup appearance and arguably his best chance of lifting the trophy given the depth of talent that surrounds him in the Argentina squad. Manchester United’s Liandro Martinez, Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez, Roma’s Paulo Dybala, Juventus’ Leandro Paredes and fellow mainstay Angel Di Maria are among some of the other big names making up Messi’s supporting cast in Qatar.
Messi went close in 2014, with Argentina finishing runner-up to Germany in Brazil, but this could finally be the chance for him to overcome the hurdle and add football’s biggest prize to his comprehensive list of career accomplishments.
The 2018 winners have been hit hard by injuries in the lead up to the tournament, with the likes of Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante being ruled out of the the tournament. Despite this, France has no shortage of talent to call on with Ballon d’Or Winner Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann among those at their disposal.
Realistically, the French should have no trouble navigating their way out of a group made up of Denmark, Tunisia and our Socceroos, but the knockout stage is where it will get interesting with their depth more likely to be tested by some of the tournament’s top nations.
History is not in their favour with no nation having defended their title since Brazil did in 1962.
Is it finally coming home? Gareth Southgate’s side is stacked with Premier League stars and favourites to win Group B. Star striker Harry Kane is among the top Golden Boot candidates for the tournament given the likelihood he’ll find the back of the net multiple times against weaker opponents such as Iran, Wales and the United States.
Should England top the group as expected, they will likely meet Ecuador, Senegal or Qatar in the Round of 16, allowing for a relatively easy path to the final eight
After bowing out in the semi-finals at Russia 2018 and finishing runner-up at Euro 2020, the Three Lions will feel as though they have unfinished business, which could give them the edge in Qatar.
European heavyweights looking strong for Qatar
The Dutch have come close to winning the tournament on three occasions, but fell short at the final hurdle in 1974, 1978 and 2010. However, 2022 could be the year the Netherlands finally overcome their World Cup heartbreak and become the the ninth nation to lift the trophy.
The Dutch should finish atop a relatively easy group featuring Ecuador, Senegal and hosts Qatar, before a Round of 16 matchup with the runner-up from Group B, likely to be Iran, United States or Wales.
With a squad led by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Barcelona stars Frankie De Jong and Memphis Depay, the Netherlands should be able to capitalise on a what looks to be a soft draw to progress through the the quarter-finals, from which point anything is possible.
An even bigger outsider with the bookies than their Dutch neighbours, but a side that boasts some of the biggest attacking threats in world football with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. Should that trio find their feet, and Thibaut Courtois have an exceptional tournament in goal as he did in 2018, don’t be surprised to see Belgium top their group featuring Croatia, Canada and Morocco, before progressing deep into the knockout stage.
Germany and Spain
You’d be naive to rule out traditional football powerhouses such Germany and Spain, with both nations loaded with talented players and a penchant for success at major international tournaments.
However, both nations have been drawn together in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Japan and Costa Rica. Topping the group is essential to both Germany and Spains hopes of lifting the World Cup, with second place in the group likely to face a tough test against Belgium in the Round of 16.
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