With the European Championship and Copa America now well behind us the eyes of international football are now firmly focused on the World Cup qualifiers, which are taking place once again.
There are less than 15 months until the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar and there are a number of contenders that will fancy their chances of a deep run into the latter stages of the competition.
The usual suspects make up the bulk of the top contenders and there is an argument to be made that any one of them could be crowned world champions next December.
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Below, we will be assessing some of the top contenders for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Brazil – 11/2
The current bookies’ favourites for the 2022 World Cup are five-time winners Brazil, who last won the competition back in 2002. That particular run marks Brazil’s longest wait for a World Cup win since their first-ever success in their 24-year drought between 1970 and 1994. As ever they have a supremely talented squad that is spearheaded by Neymar, who at the time of writing is just nine goals short of surpassing Pele as Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer. They were runners-up at the recent Copa America after losing 1-0 to arch-rivals Argentina in the final after Angel Di Maria’s first-half goal. That defeat is sure to have lit the fire in Brazil ahead of next winter’s World Cup as they look to add a sixth star to their crest.
France – 6/1
Just trailing Brazil in the betting ranks are reigning world champions France, who will be looking to put a disappointing showing at the European Championship behind them. Despite coming through the competition’s group of death in unremarkable fashion, the French were eliminated in shocking fashion in the round of 16 by Switzerland on penalties. Many had tipped France to be too strong for the rest of their European counterparts but their early exit opened the door for Italy to win the competition. France still boasts an incredible pool of talent in their squad and a number of young players who will be even better by the time this World Cup comes around. Expect France to be one of the top contenders at this World Cup.
England – 15/2
Beaten semi-finalists in the 2018 World Cup and runners-up at Euro 2020, England will look to finally go all the way and finally win their first international tournament since 1966. Gareth Southgate’s team have progressed and improved year on year in each international tournament they have played under him and will surely only benefit from recent experiences when they travel to Qatar. They too are a young side overall that has plenty of potential for growth and improvement over the next year or so and also have one of the world’s leading strikers in captain Harry Kane. Kane won the Golden Boot at the previous World Cup and has scored 10 goals in his last two major tournaments for his country, making him Eng; and’s record scorer at competitions.
Spain – 8/1
Not much was expected of Spain coming into the European Championship last summer, but Luis Enrique’s team ended up being just a penalty shootout away from reaching the final of the competition. They weren’t always convincing in doing so, but reaching the semi-final will give this previously unfancied team huge confidence that they can compete at this level. Young talents Pedri, Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres announced themselves on the international stage during the Euros, while there is still a strong experienced core that remains from the nation’s golden years. One thing they will have to cope with this time around is the weight of expectation on their shoulders, something which was not a factor in their European Championship run.
Italy – 9/1
European Champions Italy is surprisingly ranked as the fifth-favourites at this moment in time to win the World Cup next year despite being the outstanding team in Europe last summer. From the opening night of the Euros, Roberto Mancini’s men looked every inch a major tournament winner and so it came to fruition as they defeated England on penalties at Wembley. Italy played with an incredible team spirit, something which more than made up for their perceived lack of superstar players. For example, France may have a more talented team on paper, but Italy’s cohesion and chemistry was more than a leveller for them in the previous tournament.
Germany – 11/1
Germany was left disappointed by their efforts at Euro 2020 but will head into the World Cup with a clean slate following the appointment of Hansi Flick. He takes over as German boss after less than two years in charge at Bayern Munich and takes over a squad that is still packed with talent. They will hope for a more favourable draw this time around having been paired with France and Hungary in the group stages, while also facing England in the second round where they were eventually eliminated. Germany has won the World Cup four times in their history and is a regular face in the semi-finals at the very least, making 11/1 look great value for them.
Argentina – 12/1
Fresh from winning Copa America last summer, Argentina is priced as seventh-favourites to win the World Cup at the time of writing. Still spearheaded by Lionel Messi, he finally got the monkey off his back of having never won an international tournament in his career by finally winning a Copa America final at the fourth time of asking. He will still be the leading light of the team coming into next year’s tournament and the rest of the squad will no doubt benefit from their exploits from the previous summer. This could well be Messi’s last chance to win the most prized possession in international football and is the one missing piece of his legacy.