Qatar 2022: The Main Contenders

Not too long to wait now football fans as the global game puts on one of the greatest sporting spectacles. 2022 is of course World Cup year, with Qatar playing host to the competition for the very first time. The demands of the Qatar climate see the tournament shifted to November/December this time around, but other than that scheduling alteration, the competition remains the same, as the most talented players and teams on the planet do battle for that famous trophy. With upwards of 1 billion viewers expected to tune in to the final, the competition looks set to dominate the sporting headlines once again.

The most popular sporting event in the world in terms of spectators, the tournament also generates huge betting turnover, as punters log in to their favorite betting sites in an effort to predict the results of individual games, and the tournament as a whole. So, with the finalists confirmed, and the draw having been made, who are the sides most likely to be raising that famous trophy aloft at the Lusail Iconic Stadium. Let’s take a look at the main contenders.

Brazil

  • FIFA World Ranking – 1
  • Best World Cup Performance – Winners: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
  • 2018 Performance – Quarter Finals
  • General Betting Odds – 5/1
  • Star Men – Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Casemiro

Performance in Qualifying

Notoriously one of the most difficult qualifying sections, Brazil made the CONMEBOL section look like something of a breeze, topping the group with 14 wins and three draws from their 17 fixtures, and a +35 goal difference. Perennial rivals Argentina were the only side to cause the samba stars too many problems, with the game in San Juan ending in a goalless draw and the return fixture abandoned due to a pitch invasion.

Likely Path to Final

Landing in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon, Brazil will be hot favorites to top their section. Their subsequent route to the final does however look pretty tricky, with South American rivals Uruguay a likely opponent in the Last 16, followed by a Quarter Final clash with Spain. Get through that and they may well be faced with a titanic tussle with Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Semi-Final.

France

  • FIFA World Ranking – 3
  • Best World Cup Performance – Winners: 1998, 2018
  • 2018 Performance – Winners
  • General Betting Odds – 6/1
  • Star Men – Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba

Performance in Qualifying

Expected to qualify from European Group D, France did so with the minimum of fuss. With five wins and three draws from their eight fixtures, their overall performance is however best described as solid rather than spectacular. Too good for Kazakhstan and Finland, the defending champion’s made harder work of it against Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina and will need to up their game at the main event.

Likely Path to Final

France shouldn’t have too many problems with Australia and Tunisia in Group D. Fellow European Denmark are however a notch above both Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina and may prove troublesome. Top the section and France’s most likely route to Lusail would see them take on Mexico, England, and Belgium. The second spot meanwhile could see their path blocked by Argentina, Netherlands, and Brazil.

England

  • FIFA World Ranking – 5
  • Best World Cup Performance – Winners: 1966
  • 2018 Performance – Semi-Finals
  • General Betting Odds – 7/1
  • Star Men – Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling

Performance in Qualifying

As anticipated minnows San Marino, Andorra, and Albania were no match for England in Qualifying Group I, and – despite being held to a draw by both Hungary and Poland – Gareth Southgate’s men comfortably topped the section, impressively conceding only three times across ten games. Hopes were high that the Three Lions could better their semi-finals performance from four years ago, but a 4-0 home beating home by Hungary has served to temper enthusiasm a little.

Likely Path to Final

Landing in Group B with Iran, USA, and local rivals Wales, it would be something of a surprise was England not to make it through one of the softer sections as group winners. Should they do so, Sadio Mané and Senegal may lie in wait in the Last 16, followed by France in the Quarters and a Semi-Final against either Belgium or Portugal.

Spain

  • FIFA World Ranking – 7
  • Best World Cup Performance – Winners: 2010
  • 2018 Performance – Last 16
  • General Betting Odds – 8/1
  • Star Men – Pedri, Gavi, Sergio Busquets

Performance in Qualifying

Efficient is probably the best word to describe Spain’s qualification from European Group B, with the only slip-up coming in a narrow loss in Sweden. A goal difference of only +10 in a section containing minnows Georgia and Kosovo was nothing to write home about, but they were at least solid at the back in keeping a clean sheet in half of their games and conceding more than once only once.

Likely Path to Final

Spain won’t have been too pleased to have been joined by fellow European giants Germany in Group E. The Germans may not be quite the force of recent years, but invariably perform well on the big stage and make selecting the Group E winner something of a coin flip. Should Spain top the section a Croatia-Brazil-Argentina path to the final would be the likely result. Second place meanwhile would yield an all-European Belgium-Portugal-France triple header.

Argentina

  • FIFA World Ranking – 4
  • Best World Cup Performance – Winners: 1978, 1986
  • 2018 Performance – Last 16
  • General Betting Odds – 8/1
  • Star Men – Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala

Performance in Qualifying

Argentina wasn’t quite as impressive as Brazil in CONMEBOL qualifying but did still comfortably grab the second spot with eleven wins and six draws from their seventeen fixtures – boasting both the second-best goals for and goals against record in the section. In a match for Brazil in San Juan, hopes are high ahead of Lionel Messi’s likely World Cup swan song.

Likely Path to Final

Handed a spot in Group C alongside Poland, Mexico, and an overmatched Saudi Arabia side, Argentina can be expected to qualify without too much problem, and most likely in the top spot. Thereafter a Denmark-Netherlands double would look like one of the softer routes to the semi where either Brazil or Spain would most likely lie in wait.

Overall Thoughts: Fitting Finale for Magical Messi

21st November – 18th December 2022, get those dates in your diary for what looks set to be an enthralling four weeks of entertainment. Having recently reclaimed the World number 1 seed from Belgium, five-time tournament winners Brazil have earnt their place at the head of the market. That said, they do face a few potential banana skins on their route to the final and may not represent much value.

The best bet at this stage could be to side with fellow South American side Argentina who – provided they top Group C as expected – would be firm favorites to reach the semi-finals at least, and has already proved a match for Brazil during qualifying they may well go all the way.