World Cup Preview: Qatar 2022

Josh Perez, Cub News Writer

  1. Brazil

Brazil have looked lethal in their group-stage games leading to the World Cup as they have not lost a single game. On top of that, they have some of the best attacking talents in the world at the moment. Some of these players include Neymar Jr, Vinicius Jr, Raphinha, Antony, Gabriel Jesus, and many other big names. This does not take away from their midfield and defense, although I do believe they are starting to age with players like Casemiro, Silva, Alves, and Marquinhos all being in their 30s and 40s. I believe Brazil has a very good chance to make it to the finals, and may even lift the trophy.

2. Argentina

I believe a team that could lift the trophy is this Argentina side. Messi is starting to get back into form at PSG putting up insane numbers this season. This is also one of the best teams he has been able to play with, finally giving him the help he deserves. Argentina has a solid attack with the likes of Messi, Dybala, Di Marí-a, and rising star Julian Álvarez. Their midfield is very solid as well. The only flaw I may see in this team is in the defense, as some of the players are young. This is Messi’s confirmed last World Cup and the only trophy he does not have yet, so he and the squad will give their all for this trophy.

3. France

France is heading into this tournament as the reigning champions. But I believe their luck may run out in this World Cup. France is a team full of stars on offense and defense, with the likes of Mbappe, Dembele, Benzema, Hernandez, and Kimpembe. A downfall to this team is that two of their star midfielders are hurt: Pogba and Kante. The two are vital to this team, and their absence means that young stars Camavinga and Tchouameni are likely to take their place. Other notable injuries include starting center-back Rafael Varane and starting goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who were both in great form before their injuries. The team has recently been underperforming, only winning 1 out of their last 6 games leading up to the World Cup. This team, especially their young stars, will need to hopefully find form if they want to have a chance to lift the trophy again.

4. Germany

Germany is a team that could either go far in the tournament or disappoint. They have a very technically gifted midfield with Kimmich, Goretzka, Musiala, and Muller. They also have explosive attackers like Sane, Gnabry, and young stars like Adeyemi. The only shaky parts about this team include a lack of proven strikers and an aging defense. They don’t have many players left in their prime to choose from, and their main striker Timo Werner is out due to injury. Germany has one of the best goalies in the world, Manuel Neuer, who will have to be at the top of his game. Germany’s style of play is to press high and score goals, with less emphasis on their defense, so we will see if they will be able to bring this game plan to fruition.

5. Spain

Spain is very comparable to Germany as I think they will either do very well or flop. Spain’s midfield is very technically gifted with the likes of Gavi, Pedri, and Busquets. Their playstyle suits the historic tiki-taka. The only problem this Spain squad faces is its lack of a clinical goal score who can finish the chances this midfield will provide. Their defense is not getting any younger as well and a lack of young talent means they will have to rebuild after this World Cup. Spain has the talent to go far in this tournament and could even win, but it is just up to whether their forwards can finish the opportunities.

6. England

England is a team that I believe is overrated. While on paper they have the talent of a top 5 team, their recent performances do not do them any justice. England did not win any matches leading up to the World Cup and their attack has not been as potent as first hoped. Another problem with England is their defense. Their center backs are shaky and show no sign of clear leadership. They also have a fullback crisis as Reece James and Ben Chilwell are out due to injury. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, one of their best chance creators, is not looking like himself this season as he seems to be unreliable in defense. This brings rise to the manager Gareth Southgate, who people say has a bias towards players who aren’t performing. We will see if he is able to prove people wrong and pick the right players for the job.

7. Portugal

Portugal has a solid team this year. Their defense has Dias, Cancelo, Dalot, and their midfield has Silva, and Sanches. The only problem is that Ronaldo is not playing up to par. He does not start for Manchester United and is making uncommon mistakes. Because this is his last World Cup, he will want to play, but I think he will just hinder an attack that really does not need him. Players like Rafael Leão, João Félix, and Diogo Jota are the future of Portugal’s attack and have been doing a terrific job for Portugal and their clubs. This team’s performance really depends on how well Ronaldo does, as his lack of good performances could lead to fewer goals.

8. Netherlands

The Netherlands is another interesting team that will be hit or miss. They have one of the most stable defenses right now with Van Dijk and De Ligt in the center-back role and have solid fullbacks. They also have technical midfielders like De Jong, Gravenberch, and Berghuis. The problem arises in their attack. They do not have a traditional striker, and their main man Memphis Depay is out of his prime. I do not see this team getting past the quarterfinal due to their lack of potency in front of goal.

9. Denmark

Denmark have been an exciting team to watch and are definitely a dark horse to lift this World Cup. Players to watch out for on this squad include Schmeichel, Christensen, Kjær, Eriksen, and Højbjerg. They were able to score plenty of goals and make an unbelievable run to the semi-finals in Euro 2020. Their main man, Christian Eriksen, had a medical emergency at the Euros and looks really good having bounced back. I see them taking at least second place in the group to move on. But I would not put it past this team to shock France and show the world that they are not invincible.

10. Belgium

Belgium is a difficult team to rank. What I think puts them at the bottom of this list is the lack of quality that can be seen on paper. Their defense is shambolic as there is no real next-generation emerging behind the aging starters. They are essentially pulling their two veterans Vertonghen and Alderweireld out of retirement as both are out of their prime and out of the big leagues. There are no real notable fullbacks to give much coverage on the wings. Their saving grace is Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, and Romelu Lukaku. I think this team could make it through the group if they do not get upset, but will definitely fall later on due to the lack of quality in defense.