The waiting is almost over and the quadrennial showpiece of global football is just weeks away. The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will commence on 20 November, featuring 64 matches in total amongst 32 participating national teams, concluding with the final on 18 December. The sense of anticipation and excitement is now reaching fever pitch, as fans look forward to the promise of a spectacular tournament.
But will the most fancied teams fulfil their obligations of achieving success, or might the pressure of expectation become too much? Could we witness some surprising outcomes, as the so-called lesser nations cause massive upsets and gain unexpected momentum?
Quite literally anything is possible at the upcoming World Cup, so let’s take a look at some of the teams who could be the key movers and shakers, filling our appetite for the action to come.
Having won five previous editions of the flagship FIFA tournament, Brazil are already considered to be firm favourites and they currentlytop the latest World Cup betting odds, ahead of the tournament commencing in Qatar.
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Nevertheless, the ambitions of Brazil will probably be tested by the hopes of their eternal South American rivals Argentina, who have enjoyed a magnificent unbeaten run stretching back to 2019.
Indeed, the Albiceleste side featuring superstar Lionel Messi could establish a new international football record, if they can remain unbeaten in their next 4 matches, allowing them to surpass the current record of 37 games established by Italy between 2018 and 2021. But other teams are also keen to make their mark at the 2022 World Cup.
England were considered one of the early favourites, although their odds have lengthened somewhat of late, largely due to awful form in recent months while competing in the UEFA Nations League.
The Three Lions endured 3 draws and 3 defeats in that competition, which is hardly ideal preparation ahead of the World Cup, although fans are certainly hoping their team will rediscover their winning form, once the tournament gets underway in Qatar.
Considering this will be the first-ever tournament held in the Middle East, teams within the region who have qualified will inevitably be inspired towards greater efforts.
This will undoubtedly include Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, backed by the animated and vocal support of their fans, within the magnificent stadiums that have been constructed for this event. Although they are considered massive underdogs, The Maroon believes they can progress from Group A, hopeful of reaching the knockout phase.
Given their journey to the tournament will be just a short hop across the border, Saudi Arabia will be backed by massive travelling support in Qatar, aiming to give a good account of themselves at the 2022 World Cup.
Winning the tournament might be an impossible dream, as they have some of the longest odds against achieving that objective, although they will hope to qualify from the group stage. However, they face an almighty challenge facing Argentina in their opening match, followed by stern tests of character against Poland and Mexico.
Civil unrest in Iran has made the headlines recently, with several football players lending their support for those protesting in the streets, amidst a widespread social outcry against the political regime in power.
But what better platform than sports to raise further awareness, which could provide the Iranian football team with further inspiration. They will be up against England, Wales, then the United States, and that last Group B game will inevitably have plenty of extra spice, given the heated level of angst between the two countries.
Looking through the 32 teams who will be competing at the 2022 World Cup, regardless of what the current FIFA Men’s International Team Rankings would suggest, possible upsets are always likely to happen.
After all, this is a game in which on any given day, underdogs can overachieve and beat even the most illustrious rivals, cementing their place in the history and lore of this remarkable international tournament. Keep a keen eye on host nation Qatar, watch out for a good run by Denmark, and be prepared for a return of the German resolve.
And never, ever, rule out the chances of African teams like Senegal or Cameroon, who have both caused upsets in the past. Whenever a World Cup tournament begins, the formbooks can often be thrown out of the window, once the pressure of the competition itself kicks in.
This is what makes the atmosphere surrounding the even all the more exciting, so whichever teams you support or might be cheering for, let’s hope this is a World Cup that meets all our expectations, making it one that will be cherished in our memories for decades to come.