September 23 – The break for international matches has focussed attention on suddenly how close the World Cup in Qatar has come.
In Europe the Nations League results are having real outcomes but how far can they be seen as an indication to what will unfold in Qatar in less than two months.
With some parts of the world, in particular Asia, still battling their way out of the pandemic to a new normality, and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Qatar starting to cut deeper into the global economy, a World Cup is coming at the right time.
A good moment for global distraction and displays of solidarity, shared loss and a new unity. With fans back in stadia, it is still a very visible return of a lost freedom. A winter tournament will clearly change the outside dynamic of a summer World Cup full of beer gardens and big screen viewing – but it won’t stop the feeling of global excitement and shared experience that the World Cup generates.
Where the weather will be good is in Qatar – likely providing excellent conditions for playing football. Despite all the debates about human rights, the world is coming to see their country’s teams play and, of course, the final outcome.
Experts and bookies have set their candidates already and they are finally starting to look at the upcoming world cup, where they place their bets. So who are actually the biggest favorites for the 2022 world championship title in Qatar and how big are those favourites?
The stats calculations and expert talk about who is going to win is now in full swing as performances are analysed in the final international window before the finals. But no matter how much experience and information you have about the teams and players, in the end it is all up to what happens on the field – and with a knock out phase from the last 16 onwards, the favourites often start to wobble.
Scrutiny is now on the teams themselves and the combinations of fitness of the players, team strategies, historical performance and current form. It all begins with the groups.
Groups and odds
Of course there are some teams which are currently and hostroically strong. Qualification did bring surprises. Italy having won Euro 2020, less than a year later failed to qualify. Egypt failed to make it through from Africa, Australia needed a play-off in Asia, Canada dominated in the North Americas and in South America it was tight like between Chile and Ecuador, but now it appears to have been decided.
One favorite is England. The country led by their star stiker Harry Kane is going to the World Cup with the intention to win. On paper Group B should not feature any major challenges for them as Iran (in turmoil and with the last minute return of Carlos Queiroz as coach), USA (well beaten by Japan) 2-0, and Wales (first qualification for finals in 64 years) have rarely threatened in the knock out stages. England odds stand out at 11/2.
Another team which has been five times world champion already, but has not been able to defend their title since 2002 is Brazill. Despite not winning South America’s Copa America, they dominated World Cup qualifying and have high chances of winning with a squad including the talent of players such as Neymar and Thiago Silva. They are not expected to face difficulties in their group with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Brazil is priced at the moment at 9/2.
Another South American champion and favorite for many is Argentina. With global superstar Lionel Messi poised, they are currently at 7/1 and have good chance of going all the way. The opponents they will be facing in the group stage are not the easiest, as Poland and Mexico are both strong teams, but it is hard to question Argentina‘s potential given their latest achievements.
The current holders of the world cup title are France which is why their odds lay at 6/1. Their motivation is obviously to keep the title and defend their position, something that has happened only three times in history so far. The French are in Group D with Tunisia, Australia and Denmark.
Germany, who are always a favorite and are four times winner of the World Cup, will face more difficult challenges. While most of the groups just feature one top team, Group E has two of them. That means that besides facing Costa Rica and Japan, Germany will have to compete against Spain. This fact draws the odds in favour of Spain at 8/1 and Germany 10/1. As both teams have won the cup already, their ambitions are high.
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
Group F: Belgium, Ghana, Morocco, Croatia
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Canada, Uruguay, South Korea
Teams that have won the World Cup before tend to weight more heavily as favourites, bt the outcome is never really clear until we actually see the match. The history of the World Cup has taught us that nothing is impossible and sometimes the most unlikely team suddenly gets great chances to progress.
The top teams are good, no question, but these teams are facing huge pressure as performances between the nations have levelled out – and underestimating the will and motivation of the smaller teams can spell the end for a top team as well.
The beauty about the World Cup is that everyone has a chance to win and nothing is impossible. Underdogs will have their days in the sun.
Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1699012915labto1699012915ofdlr1699012915owedi1699012915sni@o1699012915fni1699012915