The 2022 Qatar World Cup is fast approaching, and I’m absolutely buzzing for it. It’s a little odd that it’s taking place in winter rather than summer, but I’m not going to let that rain on my parade!
With only a month and a bit to go until the first games, now seems as good a time as any to predict the entire tournament – Group Stages and Knockouts. This is obviously a very early prediction, and things may change (like injuries) before the tournament itself, but I thought I’d give myself a fun challenge.
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Sorry Qatar, but I think you’ll be crashing out of your own World Cup. The home advantage will help them slightly to 3rd over Ecuador, but that still won’t be enough.
Netherlands and Senegal should have this group in the bag. Sadio Mane’s Senegal have been on-form in recent years, but I still think Netherlands are too strong for them.
As an Englishman, you’ll have to take all of my England predictions with a grain of salt. That being said, I’d be surprised if they didn’t top the group with at least 7 points.
Iran are probably coming bottom, so the real meat of this group is the battle for second place. Wales absolutely have what it takes to make the Knockouts, but I think USA are starting to find their footing and will probably clinch the runner-up spot.
Other than Saudi Arabia coming last, Group C could go many ways. I think Argentina should top the group with relative ease, but the battle for 2nd will be bitter.
Robert Lewandowski will have something to say when he arrives with his Poland team, but I think the consistency across Mexico’s squad will pull them through.
My most controversial take of the Group Stages – France are going to struggle. It’s the World Cup winners curse all over again, except I think they’ll still make the 2nd spot.
Denmark are going to be the ones to surprise everybody at this tournament, and it would be a hell of a statement to top the group over the reigning champions.
The top two are pretty obvious in this one, and I think the German efficiency will outclass the Spanish flair. Costa Rica and Japan are going home, I’m afraid.
Another pretty clear-cut group, and Belgium should be ashamed of themselves if they don’t top it.
Morocco might cause an upset by beating Croatia to the punch, but I still think Luka Modric’s aging men (2018 finalists, no less) have what it takes to at least make the Knockouts.
Brazil are winning Group G. That’s almost guarenteed. The tricky thing is deciding who takes 2nd place, as none of the teams really stand out.
In the end, I think the few flashes of brilliance in Serbia’s squad will be just enough to get them over the line.
This is probably the toughest group of the tournament to predict, but even then I’d be surprised if Portugal don’t make it through.
It’s a toss-up between the other three, and Son Heung Min’s South Korea side could definitely shock the world, but I think Uruguay will do decently at this tournament.
Based on my results from the Group Stage, these were the Knockout games that generated:
Round of Sixteen
|Netherlands vs USA||Netherlands|
|Argentina vs France||Argentina|
|Germany vs Croatia||Germany|
|Brazil vs Uruguay||Brazil|
|England vs Senegal||England|
|Denmark vs Mexico||Denmark|
|Belgium vs Spain||Spain|
|Portugal vs Serbia||Portugal|
Netherlands, Germany, Brazil and Portugal should all cruise to the next round. Denmark and England might fumble at this hurdle, but I reckon they have what it takes to pull through.
The two that might be controversial are Argentina beating France and Spain beating Belgium. Like I said before, I think the World Cup winner’s curse will affect France this tournament, so a prime Messi could pounce and provide the killing blow. Belgium are also always favourites, but I think Spain are the dark horses of the tournament.
|Netherlands vs Argentina||Argentina|
|Germany vs Brazil||Brazil|
|England vs Denmark||England|
|Spain vs Portugal||Portugal|
All of these games would be unbelievably close, and to be honest it could easily go the other way each time.
I’ve tipped the South Americans to do well this tournament, so I think Argentina and Brazil have what it takes to reach the Semis.
England vs Denmark and Spain vs Portugal are a lot harder to predict, though. England beat Denmark in the Euros so I’ll go with them, and my gut is telling me that the Portuguese will triumph over the Spaniards. I could easily see Spain going on a crazy run deep into the Knockouts, though.
|Argentina vs Brazil||Brazil|
|England vs Portugal||England|
Two phenomenal matchups, South America and Europe will have to face off against their own before taking on each other in the final.
I know Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final a year ago, but that just means Brazil will be out for revenge. I’m sorry Messi, but your World Cup dreams are going to end in tears once again.
It’s also going to be a bad night for Ronaldo, as England will do the unexpected and reach the final for a second tournament in a row. I know this seems unreasonable as an Englishman, but I reckon there’s a chance we could pull of the impossible.
3rd Place Play-Off
|Argentina vs Portugal||Argentina|
It seems like fate that Messi and Ronaldo would meet for one final time on the biggest stage of all, but since neither team will reach the final they’ll have to duke it out for 3rd place instead.
This can be Messi’s chance for revenge, as he’ll guide Argentina to a respectable third place finish. Both he and Ronaldo will probably retire from the international stage after this tournament, so at least they can leave with their heads held high.
|Brazil vs England||Brazil|
As an Englishman, it pains me to no end to predict us finishing runners-up for two tournaments in a row. Unfortunately, I think this is Brazil’s trophy to lose.
I’m certain the South Americans will generally do better than the Europeans in the heat of Qatar, and the final is no exception. Brazil’s quality is through the roof compared to England’s, and a defence with Maguire in can only do so much.
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