Qatar World Cup 2022
Riccardo Antimiani/AP

Qatar World Cup 2022 Way-Too-Early Favorites

After a summer that featured both Copa America and the European Cup, global anticipation for the World Cup next summer is already building. The wait currently sits at more than a year, however, as the Qatar 2022 World Cup does not begin until November 2022. However, that does not prevent me from naming some favorites to win the tournament.

Italy

This is the no-brainer. After winning the European Cup, Italy has the beginnings of a soccer dynasty on its hands. Italy should have most of its roster return for the World Cup to try to run it back. After failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, Italy can bounce back in the best way possible: Winning the Euro Cup and World Cup back to back.

Belgium

Belgium struggled in Euros 2020 before falling to Italy in the quarter-finals, but Belgium still has one of the most talented rosters in international soccer. Their defenders may be aging, but Jan Vertonghen still makes them elite. With game-changers like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku leading the attack, Belgium has no shortage of attacking talent either, though the team has been plagued by inconsistency. They played well in the group stage of the Euro 2020, but slowed in a Round-of-16 victory over Portugal and were eliminated in the next round after another dissapointing showing. If Belgium can consistently perform, however, the team has the roster to win the 2022 World Cup.

France

After a heart-breaking loss to Switzerland in the Round of 16 in the European Cup, France is poised to bounce back. They looked great in the Euro 2020, as they beat Germany in the Group Stage and were coasting to victory against the Swiss before the Swiss came back and won. Despite France’s solid play, Kylian Mbappe struggled throughout the tournament. He was unable to stretch defenses and failed to finish the chances he got, even missing a game-tying penalty against Switzerland. However, Mbappe should come back from this even stronger, and France has other elite players in Pogba, Benzema, and Kante to pick up any slack.

England

England came agonizingly close to winning the Euros, falling to Italy in penalties in the final, but England has some young stars who can take them far in the 2022 World Cup. Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho (who all missed penalties in the final) will all gain experience before the World Cup in Qatar, and playmakers like Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling will return to form a very powerful attack. With Southgate at the helm, England has finished fourth in the 2018 World Cup, third at the UEFA Nation’s League, and now second at the Euro 2020. It could be the time for England to take the next step and win the 2022 World Cup.

Honorable Mentions

Brazil: After falling to Argentina in the Copa America finals, Brazil will be looking to end the 20 year World Cup drought. They certainly have the roster to do it, featuring stars such as Thiago Silva, Casemiro, and, of course, Neymar, but complacency has long hurt Brazil, and they must avoid it to go far in the tournament.

Argentina: After winning the Copa America and Messi finally getting an international trophy, Argentina is on the rise. That being said, Argentina will need big tournaments from the supporting pieces around Messi, because as good as Messi is, he simply cannot do it by himself. If Messi gets support from players around him and continues to play well, Argentina can go deep into the 2022 World Cup.

Sure the Euros and Copa America were exciting as individual tournaments, but the World Cup essentially combines these tournaments so the world’s best teams can play for soccer’s biggest prize. The 2022 World Cup is set to be one of the best in its gloried history.

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