The Copa America and European Championships are over, and it’s now dawning on football world that there is only 18 months left until the big event: the World Cup. It will be a World Cup unlike any other. Qatar, which is the 158th largest nation in the world, has 32 teams coming to visit in November. The country will also be experiencing the scorching heat of the Arabian Peninsular, so that next Christmas, a world champion can be crowned.
Although it may seem different, the list of favorite teams with less than 500 days left looks quite familiar to those who have been following international football over recent years. Here’s our first attempt to rank the top teams that could play in Qatar next winter.
The Copa America final defeat to Argentina proved that the Selecao were not unbeatable. However, the Selecao’s progress to the date with Argentina and the slow progress they made through CONMEBOL’s harsh qualifying group are a good sign for next winter. This team isn’t short of options, and Neymar is at the heart of it all. But it was the defense that has proven to be so valuable for Tite’s team of late. They conceded only three goals in seven games and none of their opponents allowed them to score fewer expected goals (xG), which is a statistic that estimates the probability of any shot being a goal per 90 minutes than Brazil’s 0.
The French side may have the greatest collection of talent in 2022. The French side has added Dayot Upamecano and Houssem Aouar to the list of stars that they have created in recent years. If Kylian Mbappe can reach greater heights, it is possible while N’Golo Kant, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann are still in their primes. They just need a left back.
Theirs is a familiar path on the international stage. France and Germany were used to having near misses and setbacks before they took that final step. There is no reason for England to believe that an England team that showed such great composure and organization at the 2018 World Cup, Euro 2020 and 2018 World Cup cannot take it one step further in Qatar. They are blessed with a mix of older players such as Raheem, John Stones, and Harry Kane as well as young bolters (via Phil Foden) from Bukayo Saka through Jude Bellingham.
Lionel Messi now has the international honor he longs for, there will be less pressure on him when he arrives at Qatar. But he will not let up in his quest to win the largest prize of all. The Argentine public can only expect the best at the World Cup once you have won Copa America.
The European champions are worthy of serious consideration for the global crown in just 18 months. Federico Chiesa and Nicolo Barella will be at the peak of their abilities. If Euros 2020 and 2016 taught us anything, it is that the Italians often arrive to major tournaments armed only with the best international managers. Roberto Mancini was head-and-shoulders above his counterparts this summer, and it was evident as Italy constantly adapted its approach to win an advantage over their rivals.
Spain was the most dangerous attacking power at Euro 2020. Their 90 xG rate was the highest among all teams at the tournament. They were able to hit the target frequently and took a lot of shots. Even teams as well-organized as Croatia could not resist them when they clicked. You would rank them very high if international football was a league season. Not least because Aymeric Laporte, their new signing, added stability to the defense.
Cristiano Ronaldo is pursuing the all-time men’s international scoring record. This presumably means that he will go on to the World Cup. Ali Daei will be the last man standing. It would be dangerous to dismiss a team that can surround one the game’s greatest scorers with such creative talent. Fernando Santos still has 18 months to create chemistry with Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota. But it is a serious problem at Euro 2020. Portugal was in the lead for only 40 minutes in four of their four tournament games and they rarely looked cohesive during build-up play.Last Updated on October 2, 2021