Excitement Builds for the 2022 World Cup

On Nov. 20, the 2022 World Cup is set to kick off in Qatar when the hosting national team takes on Ecuador. 

After missing out on the 2018 tournament, the United States are back in this year’s World Cup and are looking to make some noise. It’s a young group—the youngest team in the entire tournament, in fact—but one that shows a lot of promise. More and more young Americans are moving to Europe to play and it’s having a positive impact on the quality of the talent pool. The Americans are in Group B alongside England, Iran, and Wales. England is the clear favorite, but the U.S. has a decent shot at advancing as well. Obviously, anything can happen in such a small sample size, so there are no guarantees. 

The Americans are led by Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic. Pulisic, often referred to as “Captain America”, has been a bit inconsistent in the English Premier League this season, but possesses the talent to make a difference against any team in the world. With a young squad that missed the 2018 World Cup, much of this group will be seeing their first World Cup action this year, which will be something to keep in mind.

The betting favorites to win the tournament per Vegas Insider are Brazil (+400). Brazil is led by star forward Neymar, who provides a strong veteran presence to a very young attack. Neymar, who plays for French club Paris Saint Germain, is known for his flashy and aesthetically pleasing style. Brazil is a very well-rounded team, especially in attack and defense. The center back duo of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos is one of the best any team has to offer. They’ve made it to at least the quarter finals in every single World Cup tournament since 1990. This year, they’ll be looking to go even further, and reach their first World Cup Final since they won in 2002.

The country with the second best odds to win is Argentina (+550). Argentina is led by the legendary Lionel Messi, seen by many as the greatest footballer of all time. Messi has won anything and everything imaginable throughout his illustrious career except for the World Cup. In 2018, Argentina lost to the eventual champions France in the Round of 16, and in 2014 they lost a heartbreaker to Germany in the World Cup Final. The World Cup is the last trophy Messi needs and this is the 35 year old’s last shot at it. Beyond Messi, Argentina boasts a well-rounded squad with a healthy mix of experience and youth. They aren’t as talented on paper as Brazil or France, but the sheer impact of Lionel Messi automatically makes them a threat to win it all.

Speaking of France, they have the third best odds (+600) to win the World Cup. France probably has the most talented squad in the tournament, returning much of the core that won the 2018 World Cup. Their squad is loaded from top to bottom, with high end attacking talent such as world class forward Kylian Mbappe, a solid defensive foundation through players like Raphael Varane, and while there are some injuries to their first choice midfield, young talent like the Real Madrid duo Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga are ready and willing to fill that void. France has had some off-field issues of late, which may have played a role in their early exit in the 2020 European Championship, but their talent is undeniable. Four of the last five defending champions have followed up their win with a group stage exit in the next iteration, so France will be hoping to avoid a similar fate. 

There is a lot of young talent set to make their World Cup debuts, with English midfielder Jude Bellingham, Canadian fullback Alphonso Davies, Spanish midfielder Pedri, and Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior highlighting the next generation set to make their presence known over the next month. 

On the other hand, much of the old guard will likely be making their last appearances in the World Cup. As mentioned earlier, Messi will be taking his last shot at the World Cup. Legendary Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo will as well. Ronaldo is also seen as the greatest player of all time alongside Messi by many, so seeing the two greats play their last World Cup at the same time is one of the most interesting storylines of the tournament, especially as neither have had the honor of lifting that trophy. Polish forward Robert Lewandowki and Croatian midfielder Luka Modric are among the other big names that will likely be playing in their final World Cup this year. 

While these three teams are the favorites, there are plenty of other teams that very easily could make a run. There is not a clear, dominant favorite this year. Teams like Germany, Belgium, England, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands could all make deep runs in this year’s tournament. Even other teams could surprise people and win some games they aren’t expected to win. Very few expected Croatia to make the Final in 2018, but they did so anyways. The chaos of the World Cup is matched by few, if any, sporting events, and we’ll have the privilege of seeing it unfold once again over the next month.