"They'll be a major dark horse in the competition"
The FIFA World Cup 2022 promises to be one of the most exciting sporting events of the year.
Taking place in Qatar, the competition will run from November 20 to December 18, 2022, where 32 teams will battle it out for football’s top prize.
There are the typical favourites who many expect to go far in the competition such as Brazil and England.
However, there are some unexpected underdogs looking to cause an upset.
Interestingly, some good teams are also seen as underdogs because of concerns about their capabilities.
Whether it’s the defence, injury issues or player performances, some former top sides don’t look as strong as their counterparts.
But, this is football and anything can happen within the beautiful game. So, DESIblitz looks at some of the most promising teams heading into the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The team most tipped to reach the 2022 final and possibly win the competition are the current world champions, France.
‘Les Bleus’ won the 2018 World Cup beating Croatia 4-2 in dominant fashion.
The speed of Kylian Mbappé, the playmaking of Paul Pogba and the work ethic of N’Golo Kanté led France on an unbeaten road to the title.
However, Kanté has been ruled out of the competition after a hamstring operation and there are still doubts about Pogba due to injury.
Although, a major boost in France’s hopes is the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner, Karim Benzema.
The striker has been in immense form for both Real Madrid and the national team. His return to France helped them win the 2021 UEFA Nations League Final where he was ‘Man of the Match’.
If he and Mbappé can form a striking partnership, it could be a very dismal time for defenders.
Likewise, Les Bles’ other areas such as defence are strong and the youthful experience of their backline will be one of the main weapons in their arsenal.
Teams could target their midfield which looks weak but keeping their attack quiet will be the only hope to beat them.
Perhaps the team that can rival France the most in terms of attacking threat and overall balance is Brazil.
The well-rounded side is strong in all areas and their mix of flair, experience and tenacity will be difficult to suppress.
Their talisman, Neymar, is one of the most capped players for the side and his trickery and eye for goal are impressive.
However, they also have the pace of Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior and Arsenal’s in-form Gabriel Jesus up front to help out with goals.
Defenders Thiago Silva and Marquinhos can use their experience to hush other teams.
They will get assistance from their rocks in midfield, Fabinho and Casemiro.
Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon will prove difficult competition in their group.
But Brazil have arguably the best two goalkeepers in the world at their disposal in Alisson Becker and Ederson. So, beating them is going to be a tough task.
England are looking to continue their fine international form in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
They came fourth in the 2018 race but improved upon this by reaching the final of the UEFA European Championship in 2020.
They were narrowly beaten by Italy on penalties and will have some urgency to find the form they had in that competition.
Wales will prove to be their toughest test in the group but Iran and USA will also put up a fight against the ‘Three Lions’.
Many fans expect England to reach the knockout stage and captain Harry Kane will be looking to overtake Wayne Rooney as England’s top scorer.
They have a bundle of Premier League players as part of the squad which means they will bring an aggressive and powerful nature to their play.
However, the likes of Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham and Roma’s Tammy Abraham will bring versatility to England’s attack.
They have a steady balance in midfield with Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson but their defence looks a bit shaky which teams could exploit.
Even so, they are still tipped as one of the favourites.
Two-time winners, Argentina, are one of the most promising teams heading into the FIFA World Cup 2022.
They ended their 24-year wait for an international trophy after winning the Copa América in 2021. So, hopes are high for ‘La Albiceleste’.
Of course, their main target man will be one of the greatest football players ever, Lionel Messi. The “little magician” has been firing for PSG and will want to build upon this form.
At 35 years old, this could be the last World Cup for Messi, therefore he will want to bow out in style.
Fellow forwards Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martínez can aid in goals and assists. Whilst Julián Álvarez and Alejandro Garnacho can give a burst of energy when needed.
Argentina’s midfield is not quite as strong as other teams but one cannot look past how the likes of Ángel Di María and Leandro Paredes can change a game.
Their mix of defenders is good but it’s Manchester United’s Lisandro Martínez who will use that South American grit to halt attackers.
The team have a fairly competitive group as they will come up against Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.
But respectively, they are favourites to top the group and other teams will hope Messi does not find the confidence to turn teams inside out as he has done his entire career.
An evolving Spain side are surprising favourites for the 2022 World Cup.
They’ve only won the competition once but are still a major international team, having won the UEFA European Championship three times.
Whilst they’ve lost key players such as Sergio Ramos and David Silva, they still have seasoned veterans to call upon.
Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Thiago will bring their footballing IQ and much-needed maturity to a young squad.
There’s no denying that Álvaro Morata will be one of the main strikers that Spain will need to perform and get goals.
After 57 caps for Spain, he has over 26 goals, an impressive feat that he will want to improve on.
However, Barcelona’s young talents in Pedri, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati will give pace and creativity in build-up play and aid when needed.
Coming up against Germany will be Spain’s toughest task in the group stages but if they put in a sturdy performance, it will give them the confidence to remain energetic.
Germany are one of the most stable teams in the world and are on par with Brazil and France when it comes to their potential in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The four-time champions continue to be a dominating international side and always bring their A-game.
Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané and captain Thomas Müller are formidable in attack and have over 74 goals between them.
Timo Werner is also having a resurgence, returning to RB Leipzig after a torrid time at Chelsea.
However, many believe that the success of Germany’s front line is due to their powerhouses in midfield.
Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündogan, Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka and his teammate Joshua Kimmich are very difficult to play through.
They provide immense defending qualities and can also ping out passes to the wingers who run in behind teams.
There is a question surrounding their own backline and whether it’s on the same level as the rest of the team.
But the likes of Niklas Süle and Antonio Rüdiger will be eager to show how formidable they can be.
Similarly to Lionel Messi, this could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last chance to lead Portugal to a World Cup.
Hitting the back of the next over 116 times for Portugal, there’s no doubt who the team will look towards to get goals.
But, a lack of playing time for Manchester United could impact his match sharpness. However, there are other playmakers who can spur the side on.
Athletico Madrid’s João Félix could prove handy and maestros Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes have relentless output in midfield.
Similar to England, Portugal have a lot of players from the Premier League which will help them deal with tight formations and aggressive opposition.
However, for such a good side, their performances in the World Cup aren’t impressive.
In 1966 they achieved their highest finish (third place). Since then, their highest finish has been fourth place in 2006.
From 2010 to 2018, Portugal exited the competition either at the group stage or round of 16. So, it’ll be a tough task to do better but they have the potential to do so.
Canada, Uruguay and South Korea join them in the group and fans will expect them to win each game.
Some of the key players that could play a major role in causing an upset are João Cancelo, André Silva and Diogo Jota.
With players like Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, people would expect Belgium to be one of the favourites for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Between the three players, they have over 125 goals and give an invaluable amount of attacking power to the side.
Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco and Michy Batshuayi are added bonuses with their fair share of accolades.
However, Belgium haven’t ever won a major international competition. The closest they came was in the 2018 World Cup where they came in third place.
Therefore, how well can they do on the big stage?
Whilst the team doesn’t lack attacking quality, it’s their defence that teams can ask questions of.
Although Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Meunier have a vast amount of experience, they are all over 30 years old and have frailties.
Whilst still very good players, they lack the speed and agility they once had. This will get exposed against elite strikers if they go deep into the tournament.
Belgium are expected to beat Ghana and Morocco in their group. But, they will have a tougher time in dealing with Croatia, another underdog in the competition.
But, if they can get Kevin De Bruyne on the ball, Eden Hazard firing and Romelu Lukaku fit and ready, then there’s no reason why they can’t achieve the greatest prize.
Netherlands do have a good foundation to build upon and their team looks fantastic on paper.
Their star man up front will be Memphis Depay, who has over 40 goals for the squad.
Behind him, Frenkie de Jong and Davy Klaassen will pull the strings and have the ability to take the game away from teams.
The Netherlands also possess a special weapon – Virgil van Dijk. The captain of the side has over five goals and is considered one of the best centre-backs in the world.
He’s joined by Matthijs de Ligt, a staple in defence and a proven winner.
However, the last competition ‘Oranje’ won was the UEFA European Championship in 1988.
They didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup but in 2014 they came third and in 2010, they were runners-up.
Whilst their group games against Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal should be smooth-sailing, it’s how they deal with tougher opponents.
They have talented players in certain positions but lack squad depth. Therefore, it will be difficult to find someone to call upon if the side is down.
But, if they manage to form good chemistry from top to bottom and can establish a fit starting 11, then they could prove tricky to defeat.
Former UEFA European Championship winners, Denmark, have given teams trouble over the years.
Whilst they may not have the strongest squad overall, it’s their teamwork and ability to carry out the manager’s instructions which have been impressive to see.
Their captain Christian Eriksen has over 38 goals for the side and is one of their most capped players, along with defender Simon Kjaer.
Both will play a key part in Denmark’s World Cup ambitions which looks promising.
Sevilla players Kasper Dolberg and Thomas Delaney can add goals and Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg provides cover for the defence.
Whilst their teamwork is unmatched, they will need to create and put away their chances against the bigger teams.
They’ll be able to test this out when they come up against France in the group stages. It will be tough but will allow Denmark to gauge how well they can do in the tournament.
If they manage to get a draw or win over France, then they could push on and believe in themselves more.
Besides, beating one of, if not, the favourite to win the competition, will put other teams on notice.
Former runners-up, Croatia, will be one of the underdogs of the competition, hoping to replicate their 2018 success.
Whilst their most prized players are ageing, they still play at the highest level for their respective clubs.
Luka Modric is a creative genius for Real Madrid, Ivan Perišic is still full of pace for Tottenham Hotspur and Zenit’s Dejan Lovren is intensely experienced.
They can also still call upon Mateo Kovacic and Andrej Kramaric to help the squad win matches.
Before the round of 16, Croatia will need to overcome Belgium, Ghana and Morocco which fans expect to happen.
But, against more youthful teams with squad depth and game-changing players, Croatia could struggle to keep up.
Whilst their ability to get on the ball and dictate play is not in question, they will need to take their chances as they happen.
In such a fierce competition, teams can get punished if they miss opportunities.
However, in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022, Croatia have achieved impressive results.
In June 2022, they defeated France and then went on to overcome both Denmark and Austria.
If they can keep up that consistency and use the ability of their players smartly, they’ll be a major dark horse in the competition.
Two-time World Cup winners, Uruguay, will want to turn their fortunes around after exiting the 2018 tournament in the Quarter Finals.
They have a star-studded team which includes Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur and Luis Suarez.
Although, all eyes will be on Liverpool striker, Darwin Nunez. The tenacious forward had a rocky start to life in the Premier League but his confidence has grown under Jurgen Klopp.
Their legendary captain, Diego Godín, will lead the South American side in what will be his last World Cup.
In their second match of the competition, they will face Portugal which promises to be a fiery affair.
Both teams will be eager to put in perfect performances and progress but the team who comes out on top will be the one to keep an eye on.
Their top scorer, Suarez, is a surefire for goals and if Edison Cavani can stay fit, he should also feature for the side.
So, attacking-wise, Uruguay are as strong as anyone. However, their midfield players and some defenders are prone to a mistake.
In such an energetic climate, if the squad can keep calm, even when they’re up against it, then they’ll be confident to reach the later rounds.
Although, teams with immense midfield power could prove too much to handle.
These favourites and underdogs for the FIFA World Cup 2022 hope to all make a massive impact on the competition.
For some players, it will be their last time playing in such a tournament and will be fighting more than ever to get over the finishing line.
However, with the World Cup happening mid-season, fitness levels could come into question. It will only be the elite who can survive such a demanding schedule.
Either way, it promises to be a lively occasion and fans will be eagerly watching to see where the footballing crown ends up.