World Cup 2022: Preview and Predictions


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On Dec. 2, 2010, 22 members of the FIFA executive committee voted on who should host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The options? World powers such as America, Japan, and South Korea, as well as one tiny middle eastern hamlet.

Twelve years later, after the then-FIFA president Sepp Bladder was ousted for corruption, many accusations of bribery were thrown out, and thousands of migrant workers were dying from intense, near slavery level work, it was announced that the 2022 World Cup will kick off in Qatar.

One of the oddities apparent is the timing of the tournament. Due to Qatar’s desert climate, the tournament will be played in late November through mid December, instead of the usual summer time. This has squashed club seasons across the world and has forced condensed fixtures and mass confusion.

However, beyond all the other issues with the location (Qatar’s views on human rights, the country’s inability to properly house millions of visitors at once, and the lack of general infrastructure to host), the tournament is still yet to be played, and it promises to be something special, so here’s an in depth preview of all 32 teams, as well as personal predictions.


Group A


Starting off with the host nation, there aren’t super bright hopes for Qatar in their first World Cup appearance. They barely crack the top 50 of the FIFA world rankings, and just recently lost 3-0 to the Croatia U23 team in a friendly. Seven out of the last eight hosts have made it out of the group stages, but Qatar will most likely be joining South Africa as the only two teams to host and be eliminated in the group stage.


Ecuador checks in just above Qatar, sitting at #44 in the FIFA world rankings. They scratched out a quarterfinal appearance in the 2021 Copa America, but went out 3-0 against Argentina. Led by 33 year old Fenerbahçe striker Enner Valencia, who is the all-time leading goal scorer for the team, and Brighton left-back Pervis Estupiñán, La Tri has potential to pull off an upset of one of the more talented squads.


Senegal’s national team has entered somewhat of a golden era under head coach Allou Cisse, winning the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations over Egypt, and qualifying for the World Cup in a playoff versus the Egyptians. After questions about Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane’s health, he’s been excluded in the final squad after undergoing surgery on his fibula. Senegal is anchored in the back by Chelsea combo goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and center-back Kalidou Koulibaly, and are well positioned to make a deep run in the tournament, even without the leadership of Mane.


The favorite of the group, coming into Qatar at #8 in the FIFA world rankings, looks to push far into their first World Cup since 2014. They suffered an unfortunate upset at the hands of the Czech Republic in the Euros, but sport an uber-talented squad with Louis Van Gaal at the helm. Center-back Virgil Van Dijk looks to recover the world class form he held from 2019-21, central midfielder Frenkie De Jong looks to impress after a summer of being linked to Manchester United, and his Barcelona teammate Memphis Depay will lead the front lines. There are major questions about midfielder Georginio Wjinaldium’s fitness after he suffered a tibia fracture in August, but nonetheless the Dutch seem to have a squad capable of making a push deep into the knockout stages.


Overall, this group seems pretty straight-forward, with large gaps in talent between the top two and the bottom two. A surprise could happen, but Senegal and the Netherlands should cruise through.

Projected group standings:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Senegal
  3. Ecuador
  4. Qatar


Group B


Since 1966, the English have been attempting to bring the World Cup back home to the island, and this seems to be their best chance in a long time to do so. After losing in the semi finals of the 2018 World Cup, and having their hearts broken in the Euro 2021 final, the Three Lions now look like they can manage their lofty expectations. Ranked #5 in the FIFA world rankings, the Lions are led by Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka. There seem to be injury issues on the backline, with left-back Luke Shaw’s fitness in question. Left-back Ben Chilwell is confirmed to be missing the tournament, so England might resort to alternate methods and lineups of defense.


Iran cruises into the tournament ranked #20 in the World Rankings, but shockingly they’re sitting last in the group in that regard. Whereas ranking 20th would place second or third in most other groups, Iran comes in as the main underdog in group B. They went out of the 2019 Asian cup in the semifinals, and have never made it out of the group stages in the World Cup. This seems to be the most talented roster they have yet, led by star striker duo Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun, the Iranians could provide a group B shock.


It’s been just over 5 years since the US were shocked by Trinidad and Tobago to miss out from the 2018 World Cup. Since then, the US has won just about everything possible at the CONCACAF (North American) level, winning the Gold Cup and the Nations League over Mexico in 2021. Led by strong Leeds midfield duo Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams, as well as Juventus defensive midfielder Weston McKennie, the US look to forge past the round of sixteen for the first time since 2002, but might fall victim to the tough group, especially considering some of the center-back injury struggles they’ve had, with Crystal Palace’s Chris Richards unavailable.


The Welsh’s hopes of making it out of the group rest almost entirely on the legs of right-winger Gareth Bale, who recently moved to LAFC in July. He scored all three goals to push them past Austria and Ukraine in the qualification playoffs and into the World Cup for the first time since 1958. The supporting cast for Bale is alright, featuring Tottenham defender Ben Davies, but the Dragons struggle to score goals if Bale isn’t dominating.


Group B looks to be the strongest all-around group, with all four teams ranked in the FIFA top 20. Expect chaos, and potentially a surprise upset against England. Any of these teams has a case to make it through, but America and England seem to be in the best form to make it through as of now.

Projected Group Standings:

  1. England
  2. America
  3. Wales
  4. Iran


Group C


It’s been a wildly successful four years for Argentina since they went out of the 2018 World Cup to France in the round of sixteen. They’ve found their form and have gone a whopping 35 matches unbeaten, a run which has included a Copa America trophy and has stretched all the way back to 2019. This year is certain to be superstar Lionel Messi’s final run at a World Cup, and with a balanced squad that includes Inter Milan center-forward Lautaro Martinez, and Tottenham center-back Christian Romero, this Argentinian team looks primed to continue their unbeaten streak into the knockout stages, and make a serious run for the World Cup.

Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia enters the World Cup with the odds against them. They are +75000 odds to win based on Vegas odds, and +2000 to make it out of the group. Ranked #51 in the FIFA world rankings, they are deemed as the worst team in the World Cup, one spot behind Qatar, who automatically qualified due to hosting the tournament. They lost in the 2021 Arab cup group stage, but forced 0-0 draws against fellow World Cup participants America and Ecuador in friendlies. The Saudis boast a national team who plays entirely in the Saudi Pro League, which could pose advantages in preparation, but don’t expect them to triumph over any of the other teams in the group.


Despite being the primary power in CONCACAF for decades, the Mexican hold slipped when they lost the Gold Cup and the Nations League to their American rivals in 2021, and finished second in their qualifying group behind Canada. Despite this, El Tri, with head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, looks to make a dark horse run while the world is counting them out. Veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa will lead the Mexican squad into his fifth World Cup, and his third as a starter where he’s made magical saves and commanded play well out of the back. Wolves striker Raul Jiménez and Napoli right winger Hirving Lozano lead the front lines in a balanced squad which looks to push for a round of sixteen slot despite a recent run of poor form.


The Poles boast an experienced team which comes into Qatar ranked #26. They won World Cup qualification in a 2-0 triumph over Sweden in March, and look to advance past the group stage for the first time since 1986. They went out of their group in the 2021 Euros, failing to win a game. Led by all-time caps and goals leader Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski, and Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, the Eagles enter a battle between them and Mexico for a spot in the round of sixteen.


As a whole, group C is a battle between Poland and Mexico for the second spot, with Saudi Arabia not standing much of a chance and Argentina standing head and shoulders over the other squads. Poland vs Mexico kicks off the group slate and will likely decide the fate of the teams.

Projected group standings:

  1. Argentina
  2. Mexico
  3. Poland
  4. Saudi Arabia


Group D


The Socceroos continue their streak of World Cup appearances, having not missed one since 2022. They’ll look to make it out of the group stages for the first time since 2006, but face a tall task. Ranked #38 in World Rankings, Australia blew by Peru to qualify. Led by long-time goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and Celtic midfielder Aaron Mooy, Australia looks to achieve a knockout appearance in a group that seems very tough to advance in.


Denmark are a popular dark horse in the World Cup, rocking a #10 world ranking and an impressive Euro semi final run. A backline anchored by Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel and center-back duo Simon Kjær and Andreas Christiansen ensures a strong defensive showing, and the midfield creativity of Christian Eriksen (playing in his first international tournament since collapsing at the Euros) will spark goals. In their history, Denmark have made the knockout stages of the World Cup four out of five times, and expect them to add one more to the knockout stage tally this tournament.


Here we are. The defending champions. An ever so difficult position to be in. No team has repeated as World Cup champs since Brazil in 1962, 50 years ago. Four of the last five reigning World Cup reigning champs have made it past their group stage, but it’s hard to imagine France will be struck with that curse this early in the competition. A relatively simple group should help the French ease by, despite their shock defeat to Switzerland in the Euros. The French sport one of the most talented teams in the competition, with a deadly lineup headlined by striker Kylian Mbappe.. However, injuries have ravaged the French midfield, with N’golo Kante, Christopher Nkunku, and Paul Pogba confirmed to be missing the World Cup. Center-back Raphael Varane might miss time, and world class striker Kevin Benzema will miss the tournament. The French might not sweat too much in the group, but the inexperience of some of the players forced into starting roles might hurt them down the line.


Lastly in the group, Tunisia scratched their way into the tournament after placing second in the Arab cup and losing in the quarter final of AFCON. It’s hard to imagine the Tunisians stand much of a chance after they were thrashed by Brazil to the tune of a 5-1 score in a September friendly. Attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri will hope to shine, but their streak of never making it past the group stages seems inevitable to continue.


Group D could offer potential surprise, but the lack of experience for either Tunisia or Australia will prove decisive. Denmark and France should cruise, and might not need to play their starters by the third matchday.

Projected group standings:

  1. Denmark
  2. France
  3. Australia
  4. Tunisia


Group E

Costa Rica:

Costa Rica faces the same odds as Saudi Arabia, tied for the lowest in the competition. Los Ticos finished 4th in their CONCACAF qualifying group, and squeaked by 105th ranked New Zealand 1-0 to save a spot in the tournament. This will likely be Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Kaylor Navas’ final World Cup, as the 35 year-old seems sure to hang up his boots before the 2026 tournament. What the Costa Ricans have is a whole lot of experience. Eleven of the players selected for the final have more than 60 international caps, and a couple of players, like Navas, from the 2014 Costa Rica side which shocked the World by topping a group filled with Uruguay, Italy and England. A run to the knockout stages seems unlikely, but don’t rule Los Ticos out.


The four-time World Cup champs look to avenge their 2018 showing, where they fell victim to the champion curse when they fell out of the group stage at the expense of Sweden and Mexico. Former Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick took over the German side in 2021 after they lost out in the round of sixteen of the Euros. The Germans carry lots of experience, with Bayern Munich duo goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and attacking midfielder Thomas Muller playing critical roles in their 2014 World Cup run. Germany are currently having some issues with an infection, with a few players sidelined with illness. That should be worked out come matchday, but will severely limit time for preparation. They should be alright, but do not be surprised if Die Mannschaft have an early exit.


The Japanese have looked very solid so far, having cruised through qualification and beating the US 2-0 in a friendly. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Maya Yoshida anchor a strong backline for Japan, and Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo offers a wide presence in skill. The scoring is mainly found through Reims attacking midfielder Junya Ito, but a bevy of different players have attacking threat. Japan rank as the second highest Asian team, at #24, behind Iran, which feels disrespectful based on their strong qualification showing. Do not be surprised if Japan shocks one of Spain and Germany and advances on.


The Spanish have had mixed showings as of late, going out of the 2018 World Cup in the round of sixteen, and the semifinals of the Euros. Manager Luis Enrique opted to leave lots of experience off the final roster with the exclusion of goalkeeper David De Gea and center-back Sergio Ramos. Midfielder Sergio Busquets will continue to command the middle for the Spanish squad, which specializes in controlling possession and playing conservative football, waiting for their opponents to make a mistake. Busquets midfield partner at Barcelona, Pedri, has broken onto the scene as of late. The 19 year-old is making the first of what may be many World Cup appearances and offers world class technique and vision. This squad, despite its inexperience, is very talented and offers many routes for putting the ball in the back of the net.


Here is my first major upset pick. I have the Germans finishing third after being beaten by the Japanese in the first group match and failing to recover. Spain will cruise, winning at least two of three of their matches, and has serious potential to go all the way.

Projected group standings:

  1. Spain
  2. Japan
  3. Germany
  4. Costa Rica


Group F


Belgium are the current number two team in the world based on FIFA’s rankings, but went out of the Euros in the quarterfinals. However, they have a talented squad, but it might be shaky at the back with center-back duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen aging. Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will provide his usual magic to the attack, and Eden Hazard looks to recover from a tumultuous period at Real Madrid which was filled with injuries. The “Golden Generation” of the 2010s is aging fast, so it’s imperative for the Red Devils to impress in this tournament. This will be a team electric in attack, but might struggle in defensive scenarios.


The shock of CONCACAF, Canada qualified for their second World Cup ever, finishing top of their qualifying group. This tournament will likely mark many firsts for Canada, as their 1986 World Cup team did not manage a point, and didn’t score a goal. They made the semifinals of the 2021 Gold Cup, but despite all this they’re only ranked 41st in FIFA’s world rankings, behind 13 teams that didn’t make the World Cup. This feels massively disrespectful based on what this team has accomplished so far. With Bayern attacker Alphonso Davies, and Lille striker Jonathan David, Canada will be an entertaining squad to watch as they attempt to forge even farther past expectations.


Croatia looks to return to its 2018 standard, when they had a magical run to the final, where they were defeated by France 4-2. However, as the squad ages, they likely won’t be able to return to the heights of that run. They fell out of the Euros in the round of sixteen. Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has aged like fine wine, and continues to be a creative genius at age 37, but the rest of the squad is falling behind. Ivan Perišić will continue to feature on the left side, and Hoffenheim striker Andrej Kramaric leads the front line in replacement for Mario Mandžukic, who retired after the 2018 World Cup and is now serving as an assistant coach for the squad. They’ll enter a heated battle with Canada and Belgium for a spot in the round of sixteen.


Morocco is a team that has shown a lot of promise, but has been struck by the injury bug. Marseille forward Anime Harit was stretchered off in a match against Monaco due to a cruciate ligament sprain and will miss the World Cup. Morocco still sports talent, such as Paris Saint-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi and Chelsea right-winger Hakim Ziyech, but the quest to make it out of the group was made much more difficult by Harit’s injury. They finished in the quarterfinals of AFCON, and sport a #22 FIFA World Ranking, which comes in at third in the group.


This is a tough group to predict. All teams carry flaws that could potentially be fatal. Can Belgium overcome their defensive struggles? Can Canada overcome their inexperience? Can Croatia turn back the clocks and make another run? Can Morocco overcome the loss of Harit’s presence? I think Canada continues their good run of form at the expense of Croatia, and Belgium tops the group.

Projected group standings:

  1. Belgium
  2. Canada
  3. Croatia
  4. Morocco


Group G


Brazil, as of now, seem to be one of the favorites if not the team to beat in Qatar. They hold the #1 world ranking, and have the talent and poise to back it up. The five-time champions return after losing in the 2018 quarterfinals, but lost in the 2021 Copa America final to Argentina. Liverpool goalkeeper Allison, and center back trio Marquinhos, Eder Militao and Thiago Silva sure up the back line. The midfield boasts a mixture of strength and creativity with Manchester United’s Casemiro and Fred, as well as Lyon’s Lucas Paqueta. The front line is absolutely stacked, with Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Vinicius Jr all set to get major minutes. Brazil looks electric and can dominate opponents from start to finish.


Cameroon is a very interesting team this year. They placed third in AFCON and rank #43 in the World Rankings. Inter Milan Goalkeeper Andre Onana hoists the backline, while Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting leads the front line. It’s hard to tell how much threat they’ll poise to advance out of the group, because of how little this team has played together. They scratched through qualifications to pull past Algeria, but suffered an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to Uzbekistan in a September friendly. Expect an early exit for Les Lions Indomptables.


After topping their qualification group over Portugal, Serbia looks to be a solid side this tournament. They haven’t made it past the group stage in the World Cup since 1998, and haven’t qualified for the Euros since 2000. A round of sixteen appearance looking attainable for the Eagles is relatively new waters for them. The backline is led by Fiorentina center-back Nikola Milenkovic, and they boast an impressive striker duo of Alexsandar Mitrovic and Dušan Vlahović who both possess an intimidating aerial threat. They might not play the most attractive football, but it is simple and effective.


Switzerland made the round of sixteen in 2014 and 2018, and looks to potentially push farther this year. They pulled off a shocking upset of France in the Euros before going out in the quarterfinals. The Swiss are very good in defense and will control the flow well, with midfielders Granit Xhaka and Denis Zakaria providing defensive support and touches of creativity, while experienced goalkeeper Yan Sommer commands things from the 18 yard-box. Monaco striker Breel Embolo needs to do heavy lifting in the attack for the goals to consistently flow.


Brazil is far and away the best team in the group, and I don’t expect them to drop points. Cameroon is a step behind Switzerland and Serbia, who are both well matched and hard to beat due to their defensive prowess.

Projected group standings:

  1. Brazil
  2. Serbia
  3. Switzerland
  4. Cameroon


Group H


Ghana look to advance out of the group in their fourth World Cup appearance of all time. However, the odds will be stacked against them due to a poor showing in AFCON a where they were ousted from the group stages. Ghana show starpower in all three lines, with breakout Brighton star left-back Tariq Lamptey set for his first international tournament, Arsenal central-midfielder Thomas Partey, and Bilbao striker Iñaki Williams, who has chosen to represent Ghana in the World Cup despite being born in Spain. The Black Stars could potentially string together another magical run like the one they had in 2010, beating America in the round of sixteen before being ousted by Uruguay in one of the most infamous World Cup games of all time.


Korea looks to advance out of the group after two consecutive tournaments of exiting in the group stage. They lost in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Asian Cup, and walk into the tournament sitting at #28 in the World Rankings. Unfortunately they’ll be without Tottenham superstar Heung-Min Son who is unfit to play in the World Cup. This limits their chances drastically, as most of their attacking threat come from Son’s boots. Expect an early exit due to this.


One final run at a World Cup for Christiano Ronaldo, who has sparked so much controversy in his time with Manchester United. They lost in the round of sixteen in both the Euros and the 2018 World Cup, and they’ll be attempting to make it much farther. Ranked #9 in the World Rankings, Portugal have a stable backline headlined by Pepe and Ruben Dias, with a touch of creativity from left-back Joao Cancelo. The midfield makes up for what it lacks in defensive prowess with playmaking, with Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes both reliable in finding the open man. This benefits Ronaldo greatly, and if Portugal can feed Ronaldo and his striking counterpart Joao Felix chances, they’ll be deadly in attack.


Uruguay are looking to trump recent World Cup success, like making the semifinals in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2018. They went out of the 2021 Copa America in the quarterfinals, but still hold a top 15 world ranking, coming in at #14. El Celeste look to overcome a shaky attack (scored only four goals in two games in Copa America) which features aging combo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. However, this will be the first World Cup for Darwin Núñez, who broke onto the scene and earned a 100 million dollar move to Liverpool. Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde will shine in the midfield, making Uruguay extremely hard to beat.

A very solid all-around group, it’s realistic for all of these teams except for Korea to make it through. I’ll call an upset for Ghana here due to their newfound stardom, and Uruguay’s rapid aging

Projected group standings:

  1. Portugal
  2. Ghana
  3. Uruguay
  4. Korea


Moving onto the knockout stage, I’ll go on and predict the theoretical matchups created from these group predictions.


Round of sixteen:

England defeat Senegal

Netherlands defeat America

France defeat Argentina

Denmark defeat Mexico

Spain defeat Canada

Belgium defeat Japan

Brazil defeat Ghana

Portugal defeat Serbia


A heavyweight matchup repeat of the 2018 World Cup ends in a French victory. Everything else is pretty run of the mill. I don’t see a Senegal team without Mane pulling off a victory against England, although there is slight potential for it.



Denmark defeat England

Netherlands defeat France

Brazil defeat Spain

Belgium defeat Portugal

I have England’s run getting cut short, and favorites France going out in the quarterfinals. Ronaldo’s glorious national career likely comes to a close after Belgium bears Portugal, and Brazil’s relentless attack would be too much for a cautious Spanish side.

Brazil defeat Netherlands

Denmark defeat Belgium

The tiny Denmark making a run all the way to the World Cup final, defeating Belgium and Brazil continues its run of dominance, putting the Dutch defense through a storm of goals


Brazil defeat Denmark

Finally, I have the dream run for Denmark falling just short. Brazil, to me, is the best team in this competition by far, and has the most potential to take home their sixth World Cup title. Despite all the chaos and controversy surrounding the tournament, it’ll still feature some of the greatest footballers on the planet and be an absolute spectacle for fans around the world.