With November 20th rapidly approaching we take a closer look at the teams chances…
Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands.
Qatar might be better than you think…
This is such a small nation with very little history, but they do have a chance of making the knockout stages. The Qataris are well coached with Felix Sanchez, they’ve gotten important experience over the last few years and are the reigning AFC champions.
Ecuador are sneaky, a good underdog
The Ecuadorians are super solid, led by well-regarded manager Gustavo Alfaro. They have young talent, speed, tenacity, and they fear nobody.
Senegal have what it takes to make history
It’s easier said than done, but Senegal have a chance to make it further than any African team in cup history. They have multiple players who could start for the majority of teams in this competition.
The Netherlands hope to prove they’re back
The Dutch are always contenders on paper, but after missing the 2018 World Cup, they are just thrilled to be back. They probably don’t have enough in attack to make a ton of noise here through.
England, Iran, the United States and Wales.
England are major contenders
This could be one of England’s best teams on paper, and expectations are ultra high after making the Euro 2022 final. They are expecting a deep run, especially after making the semifinals last time around.
Iran have more talented strikers than you think
The Iranians might not have much from the midfield back, but don’t discount what they have going forward. They have two established strikers in Mehdi Taremi (Porto) and Sardar Azmoun (Leverkusen), both players Gregg Berhalter would love to have in attack for the U.S.
A stepping stone for the U.S
Look, it’s just good to have the U.S. back. But this cup is all about showing progression, trying to do your best, and then they build ahead for the 2026 World Cup, which will be the most important in this national team’s history.
Wales are playing in their first World Cup since 1958
The Welsh, behind Gareth Bale, will be playing in their first World Cup since 1958, and expectations are high. It’s the golden age of Welsh soccer likely coming to a close as Bale is on the other side of 30, but they are more than capable of getting out of this group. The key will be how well Bale and Dan James can produce going forward against defenses in the group that can be rather inconsistent.
Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.
Argentina are definite contenders
There is reason for hope for Argentina after ending their trophy drought last year by winning the Copa America. They went out with the old and in with the new for the most part, building a hungry, young squad around Lionel Messi. They haven’t lost since the 2019 Copa America final, going 33 matches unbeaten.
Enjoy the group stage, Saudi Arabia
The Saudi’s are back at the World Cup once again, but it will likely be their fifth straight group stage exit. They just don’t have enough quality and are in a tricky group. Thanks for coming, though.
Mexico not all that convincing
El Tri are a mess at the moment. They’ve been dominated by the USMNT, they lack conviction in their play, and manager Tata Martino is likely on his way out after this competition. Anything short of the knockout stage is a failure, and in such a tricky group, it wouldn’t be all that surprising either.
Poland need more than just Lewandowski
Poland earn your respect because they have one of the world’s best players in Robert Lewandowski, but they don’t offer much else. They have an aging squad that cannot rely so much on these veterans. They should have enough to escape the group though.
France, Australia, Denmark and Tunisia.
France can do it again
The reigning champs have everything you would want in a World Cup team, and they also have so much young talent to compliment. After crashing out at Euro, they’ll be hungry and motivated to show why they are the best in the world. With superstar Kylian Mbappe joining arguably the world’s top player in Karim Benzema, it’s easy to see why they could do it again.
Australia’s ceiling isn’t very high
Australia deserved to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but they are far from a convincing team. Unlikely to escape the group stage, they have a mixture of experience and youth but are lacking star players that can make the difference.
Denmark will be a fan favorite
The Danes will be ones to watch, especially if Christain Eriksen plays. After going into cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, he’s back on the pitch and playing for Manchester United. He’s the soul of the team’s attacking creativity.
Tunisia ready for history?
This will be Tunisia’s sixth World Cup in their history, but they’ve never made it out of the group stage. In another tricky group, a similar fate likely awaits.
Spain, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan.
Spain’s Pedri could be ready to explode on the international stage
This isn’t close to the Spain of 2010 that won the World Cup, but they have some incredible young pieces with Pedri leading the way. The 19-year-old Barcelona man reminds many of both Xavi and Iniesta, and his quality on the ball is what can lift Spain to a deep run.
Costa Rica need more than Keylor Navas
Los Ticos are slow, aging and offer very little other than star goalkeeper Keylor Navas. They shocked the world at the 2014 World Cup, but don’t expect anything similar here. It would be a shock if they escape this group after barely qualifying.
Germany will be back strong
The disappointment of being bounced in the group stage of the last World Cup means we can probably expect a fresh Germany to do some damage in this tournament. The embarrassment can we washed away with a strong showing, and having a rejuvenated Timo Werner will be crucial.
Japan will get a test before the tournament
Japan have a squad with plenty of talent and depth, and they’ll get to measure themselves on in September when they face the United States in a friendly. But they’ll need to find some chemistry in attack. While they scored four against Ghana in a friendly this year, they failed to score against Tunisia and Brazil before and after, showing that they continue to struggle with attacking production.
Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia.
Belgium’s best chance ever to win?
They’ve been dark horses since 2010, but if there was ever to be a year, this is it. Semifinalists in 2020, the defense is still past its prime and not all that sharp. But what they have in attack is sensational, even if Eden Hazard isn’t himself. With Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku leading the way, they are built for another deep run. Whether they can get over the hump remains to be seen.
Canada, the best Concacaf has to offer
The Canadians are ahead of schedule, qualifying for this World Cup despite nobody giving them much of a chance. They area fast, they play hard, and they finished qualifying as the top team in Concacaf. Be careful with them.
Morocco have enough to make noise
With Achraf Hakimi leading the way, Bono in goal and talented attackers Youssef En-Nesryi and Munir, Morocco are not to be taken lightly. While they probably won’t sniff the knockout stage, a win in the group stage couldn’t be all that surprising. They have a difference maker in Bono that can keep them in games.
Croatia ready to repeat deep run?
Four years on from their improbable run to the final, they surely can’t do it again, can they? Their best players are well over 30 years of age now, the defense was never all that sharp, and it isn’t significantly better. They do have some young defenders who will need to step up, but don’t expect them to come close to another final due to the natural decline in players.
Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.
Brazil should be viewed as co-contenders
Along with France, Brazil are the team with the best chance of winning. They are stacked all over, and it will take gritty performances to get them out. There is so much speed and flair, they have a strong spine up the middle, and nobody will be shocked if they add their sixth star come December.
Serbia have the talent
This is a team with so many good players that are looking to show they can gel on the biggest stage. It could be the best Serbia team in years with an incredible technical ability in the middle and strong, sturdy attackers up top. I don’t like the group for them, but it won’t shock me to see them pull surprises and make a little run.
Switzerland have one of the best goalkeepers
Switzerland have enjoyed some success over the last decade, though there obviously isn’t a trophy to show for it. But one of the reasons why they are looked at as such a formidable side is because of goalkeeper Yann Sommer. A veteran with incredible instincts, he will once again show why few goalkeepers are better on the biggest stage.
Cameroon, a staple that have return
Cameroon had made seven of the last eight World Cups before not qualifying in 2018, but now they are back. Though they lack established European stars, like we see with Senegal, the African teams are always dangerous. They play with such heart and love for the sport, knowing they have nothing to lose, and the enjoyment that they portray is infectious. A very challenging group means an early exit may be in store, but expect few to show that they want it more.
Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
Portugal are reloaded
Six years on from winning Euro 2016, this Portugal team is more than just Cristiano Ronaldo. With Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Rafael Leao, Diogo Jota and more, they have as much fire power in attack as you could want. But will they will still roll with 39-year-old Pepe in defense? They need somebody better next to Ruben Dias.
Ghana will just enjoy the ride
Ghana may be back at the World Cup after missing in 2018, but don’t expect much. Not only are they in a brutal group, but they lack experience and quality throughout their squad. They’ll be fun, fast and play with so much passion, but be stunned if they somehow get out of the group.
Uruguay back on on track thanks to Alonso
It looked like Uruguay would miss the World Cup before moving on from Oscar Tabarez to Diego Alonso, but the former Valencia and Atletico Madrid player got his team rallied and into the tournament on the back of some encouraging performances. While Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have very little left in the tank, they are still dangerous. Mix in Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez, and this attack has everything needed for a run.
South Korea’s Heung-Min Son is a must-watch player
Heung-Min Son of South Korea isn’t just the best Asian player, he is one of the very best players in the entire world. The Tottenham attacker is prolific, charismatic and on his way to becoming a legendary player. As he goes, South Korea will go in Qatar. But with him, they have somebody capable of finishing as the tournament’s top scorer.