The long wait is finally over; the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is only a few months away. Quite a bit changed in the soccer world since the last World Cup in Russia, where France beat Croatia in the Final. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic tournament, and I’m here to give you my predictions for who’s going to win it all.
The World Cup begins with the 32 best national teams separated into eight groups, each group containing four teams. Each team plays the other teams in their group once, and the top 2 teams from each group advance out of the group stage. Once out of the group stage, the remaining 16 teams play in a bracket-style, win-or-go-home tournament. Finally, when only two teams are remaining, they play each other to determine who wins the Cup! I’ll begin with predicting the winners of the group stages.
Group A consists of Ecuador, Senegal, the Netherlands, and Qatar. I believe this group will be relatively competitive, as the Netherlands is a strong force going into this tournament. Senegal is coming off winning their first championship at the African Cup of Nations this past year. Ecuador has a lot of firepower, and Qatar is quite sneaky as well. Ultimately, the difference in talent in Senegal and the Netherlands compared to that of Ecuador and Qatar is too great. I’m taking the Netherlands out of Group A as the first seed for Senegal to snag the second seed.
Group B consists of England, Iran, the US, and Wales. This group is rather interesting and can be considered a toss-up between all four of these countries. However, my gut tells me that the England squad will hold up their title as Group B favorites and take the first seed. I believe Iran, Wales, and the US are much closer in talent than most people think, but this year is where the US will show they are a force to be taken seriously in the soccer world. US takes the second seed in Group B.
Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland are the squads to make up Group C. Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, other teams in this group are going to overwhelm them and end up winless. I think Argentina takes the first seed with relative ease. Mexico and Poland will fight it out for the second seed. I believe Polish striker Robert Lewandowski is the best player out of both teams, but nevertheless Mexico will just edge Poland out for the second seed.
Group D consists of France, Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia. Just like group B, the separation of talent between the former two teams and the latter two teams is too great for much competition. I think defending champions France will grab the first seed, and the very underrated Danes will take the second seed. I love both the Tunisia and Australia squads, and as much as I think they deserve a long run in the World Cup, I don’t believe this is their ye ar.
Group E contains Spain, Germany, Japan, and Costa Rica. I think Spain and Germany will be competing for the first seed, as they are the two most talented squads in this group. While Germany’s World Cup run ended early in 2018, I think they’ll come back strong this year and win the first seed. Spain wins the second seed, with a competitive Japan ending right behind them.
Belgium, Canada, Morocco, and Croatia are the teams making up Group F. While Brazil is the projected favorite in this year’s tournament, I think Belgium is the hottest team. They are one of the most well-rounded and well-coached teams in the world and easily take the first seed in Group F. I believe Croatia will be able to take the second seed, scraping past some challenging games against the talented sides of Canada and Morocco. While I don’t have Croatia going as far as they did in 2018, I have to give them respect as former runners-up.
Group G consists of Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Some people may call Brazil overrated, and even though I said Belgium is the hottest team right now, I still think Brazil is one of the top contenders to win it all this year. I think they take the first seed relatively with ease. It is a much tougher group than some fans might think, as Serbia, Cameroon, and Switzerland are all fantastic squads. I will choose the underdogs of Serbia to take that second seed because I think their heart and toughness will take them a long way this year.
The last group, group H, consists of Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea. This group won’t be as competitive as some other groups, even though there’s not one specifically weak side. South Korea is one of the premier teams in Asia, but I think they get beaten by both Uruguay and Portugal. Ghana is a powerful team, but I think they also lose to Uruguay and Portugal. I expect Cristiano Ronaldo will have a great showing on the group stage and carry Portugal to the first seed, while Uruguay takes the second seed.
We are finally out of the group stage, and 16 teams remain. According to my predictions, the first playoff matchup will be Senegal vs. the USA. It will be a very tight fight to end 2-2 and go to penalties, but in the end, I think the USA will narrowly defeat Senegal in a penalty shootout 5-4. The next game will be Argentina versus Denmark, and I believe Argentina, led by Leonel Messi, will defeat Denmark 2-0. While I believe Denmark deserves to make it past this round, they were unlucky to be matched up against Argentina early. That means it’s the USA versus Argentina in the round of 8. I think Argentina will defeat the US with little to no trouble and advance to the semi-finals. The USA finds itself in a similar situation to Denmark, as they’re an equally great team but are matched up against an even better team early on.
Going back to a different part of the round of 16, Germany is taking on Croatia, and I think they beat Croatia 3-1. While Croatia has many returning players that got them to the Finals in 2018, I think their luck runs out early this year. Next, Brazil faces Uruguay and defeats them 1-0 with what I predict to be a master class of a game put on by Brazilian star Neymar. It means that Brazil faces Germany in the round of 8. It will be a great game, but I see Brazil coming out on top, winning 3-2, and finally getting their revenge after 2014’s embarrassing 7-1 loss. It’s Brazil vs. Argentina in the first semi-final battle!
On the other side of the round of 16, I have England taking on the Netherlands. While these are both great squads, I believe they are both slightly overrated. Nevertheless, I think the Netherlands will barely scrape by with a 1-0 win over England. Next, it’s France vs. Mexico. I think it will be closer than most people think, as Mexico will not go down without a fight. However, the talent of France is simply too overwhelming, and I think they will win 2-0. That means it’s France versus the Netherlands in the round of 8, and I believe France will win 3-1 and advance to the semi-finals.
The last part of the round of 16 begins with Belgium versus Spain. I believe this will be one of the best games, and I have Belgium defeating Spain 4-3. Like I said earlier, Belgium has a capable side. In the round of 16, it’s Portugal versus Spain. I predict this will also be a great game, and Serbia will give Portugal a run for their money. In the end, however, I have Portugal winning 1-0, with a great goal scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. This means it's Portugal versus Belgium in the round of 8, and in an upset Portugal defeats Belgium 2-1!
We have gotten to the semi-finals. Brazil vs. Argentina, and Portugal vs. France. This Brazil and Argentina game is by far the hardest to predict, as Brazil is one of the strongest sides in the whole sport, but Argentina has Messi, who is most likely playing in his last World Cup ever. As much as I love Messi and want him to win a World Cup, I don’t see Argentina defeating Brazil. I think Brazil will win 2-1, despite a master-class performance from Leonel Messi. For the second semi-final game, I have Portugal pulling a second upset in a row against France! While France is the stronger side, I think luck is on Portugal’s side this year, and I think they’ll join Brazil in the World Cup Finals as Cristiano Ronaldo finally sees his first Final.
The Final has arrived. Brazil versus Portugal. Neymar versus Ronaldo, with the unfortunate Messi watching from the sidelines. While most of the tournament was filled with close matches, I find this final match will be like a blowout. The Finals match was the semi-final match between Argentina and Brazil, and once Brazil beats Argentina, they will have no issues defeating Portugal. Brazil will easily handle Portugal and defeat them 4-1, declaring Brazil the winners of the 2022 World Cup and giving them their sixth World Cup trophy in team history! While both Messi and Ronaldo are more accomplished players than Neymar, I believe Neymar takes this World Cup and finally makes his home country proud.
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