Soccer fans go through this exercise every four years. Why should this year be any different? This November, 32 teams will begin play in the 22nd edition of the World Cup Tournament in Qatar. There are obvious choices, and of course, less likely winners. Who will you choose?
The previous winner is always the safest choice. France won the Cup in 2018 (watch it at 해외축구중계). With Pogba, Mbappe, and Griezmann returning, and a passel of young talent that performed well in Euro 2020, Les Bleus is an easy pick to win. Five time winner Brazil is always a favorite pick. Having won the Copa America without Neymar in 2019 bodes well for the pre-eminent South American squad. We can round out this category with Germany and Spain. Both, having had disappointing performances in 2018, need to redeem themselves. They may be running on spirit alone, but with the talent on these two squads, a little spirit may be all it takes. From past experience the world knows any of these teams can dominate a tournament. That is why they are easy choices to win.
The Outsiders are teams that nobody expects to win but would not be at all surprised if they did. Argentina is always considered a contender. 2022 will be Lionel Messi’s last chance to obtain a cup. A mostly younger squad being led by an old master may be the formula that puts Argentina over the top. Belgium is also an Outside contender. Coming off a 3rd place in 2018, Red Devil faithful trust that the old guard of Hazard and De Bruyne will put it all on the line to bring home a cup. This will likely be their last chance. England, who battled Belgium for the 3rd place spot in 2018, must also be considered a promising Outsider. Expectations of The Three Lions are pretty low this time around. With the pressure off, Sterling, Sancho, and others may fly under the radar and flourish.
There is an old adage in sports: any team good enough to be there is good enough to win. I like to think this is true. It would be great to see Mexico take a cup. They are always such a fun, spirited team to watch. Uruguay won the 1st Cup in 1930. Seeing Uruguay win a cup now would be comparable to seeing the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl in 1997 after winning their 1st in 1967. Of course, we would all like to see our home team win. That is perhaps the top sentimental favorite.
Whomever you pick next year, good luck. Let’s all hope our team makes a good showing.