With the 2022 World Cup underway, we’re analyzing the top countries with the best chance of lifting the iconic trophy this summer.
While politics and timing have overshadowed the usually exciting run-up to the World Cup, it’s hard to deny that very special feeling that bubbles up every four years. World Cup fever has officially taken hold and football lovers around the world are starting to speculate.
The title of ‘World Champions’ hangs in the balance and every nation will fight to retain those bragging rights until 2026.
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So, who are the favorites to go all the way?
Executive Director: Adenor Leonardo Bacchi (Tite)
Player to watch: Neymar
At the summit, the bookies are predicting Brazil to win their first World Cup since 2002 – bringing the title back home. o País do Futebol (land of football).
It’s hard to argue against the Brazilians, given the overwhelming strength of their team. Everywhere on the pitch, from defense to attack Selection screams talent. From the poised Marquinhos in defence, the imposing Casemiro in midfield and the dynamic Vinicius Junior on the wing; every nation in the tournament would be wise to be on guard.
Although many of these players may not have much experience at such a high international tournament, there are certain numbers head coach Tite can count on, including superstar Neymar, goalkeeper Alisson and veteran Thiago Silva.
Brazil’s samba-like style at its best is unstoppable and even from afar you can feel the passion of an entire nation coursing through the players on the pitch.
Will soccer finally return to South America?
Brazil has the best odds at $4.33.
Executive Director: Lionel Scaloni
Player to watch: Lionel Messi
The end of an era is night. Arguably the greatest player to ever grace the game is representing his nation at the World Cup for the last time. It would be the perfect end to a perfect script – Lionel Messi lifting the trophy that embodies his entire career to date. The best in the world received the greatest honor in football.
This Argentinian side may not be as strong on paper as they were four years ago, but the South American giants have been fielding exactly the type needed to take the World Cup by storm.
And fresh from a Copa America win against favorites Brazil, Argentina will be looking for another international title to add to their impressive collection.
Everyone will be watching Messi, for good reason, but there is much more about this side to be excited about. Can Messi claim the ultimate prize?
Argentina are second favorites to lift the trophy at $6.50.
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Executive Director: Didier Deschamps
Player to watch: Kylian Mbappé
Not far behind, of course, are the reigning champions, France. Being previous World Cup winners, it’s only natural that they’re part of the conversation. However, many will think twice about placing their bets on France given the nature of the ‘World Cup Curse’.
The folklore curse in question states that winners in the previous tournament will suffer in the next. This situation applies to France 2002, Italy 2010, Spain 2014 and Germany 2018; who were all eliminated in the group stage.
And after a poor performance at Euro 2020, manager Didier Deschamps. Lol Blues will be itching to set the record straight on the world’s biggest stage – a task that will have to be tackled without the likes of the injured Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante and now Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
Rather than rely on experience, Deschamps will need to look to youth to help the nation earn their third star, and crucially, will rely on the same attack that won in 2018.
Fortunately, France has been blessed with talent across the board and this year is no different. With the ability to flick the switch in seconds, an attack featuring Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Demble can strike fear into the eyes of any defender in football.
Can France break the curse and defend their title, or will injuries prove too costly? The bookies put them at $9.
Executive Director: Gareth Southgate
Player to watch: Harry Kane
England’s golden boy Harry Kane had a fantastic campaign at the last European Championship, finishing with four goals – just one behind Cristiano Ronaldo. In the end though, his goals were not enough to push England over the line and they lost in another penalty shootout, this time at the hands of the Italians.
Manager Gareth Southgate just can’t seem to escape them. But Euro 2020 would have served as invaluable experience for many in the squad, who will feel more capable of competing at this level.
So, why not one better this time? If Southgate doesn’t overthink his tactical stance, there’s a good chance, with the experience and talent this team has, they’ll go very far into the knockout stages.
Is football finally coming home? The bookies have the French connection at $9 to win.
Many – Luis Enrique
Player to watch: Pedro (Pedro Gonzalez)
Ever since 2010, the Spanish national team has struggled to recapture its glory days. Talent turnover has been particularly difficult for Spain and they have yet to find their feet at a major tournament.
Despite having a squad full of talent, it seems that everyone else in football has got the tiki-taka figured out. But there are signs of change.
For starters, leaving Sergio Ramos and David de Gea out of the squad is a huge statement of intent from Enrique, who is stepping foot into Spain’s new era. Instead, he chose fresh faces such as Eric Garcia, Hugo Guillamon, Pablo Martin Páez Gavira (Gavi) and Pedri to inject life and help demonstrate a modern take on the Spanish style of football.
Enrique’s vision was clear at Euro 2020. They were playing with more flexibility and freedom and, crucially, they were scoring goals. Goals had been a concern for the squad and with just one striker in Alvaro Morata, it could still be.
Can Spain touch glory again like they did 12 years ago? The bookies have them along with France and England as $9 odds to win it all.
* All odds courtesy of Sportsbet are correct at the time of publication and are subject to change
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