The countdown to Qatar 2022 has now entered its last stretch, with the end of Euro 2020 and the Copa America focusing attention squarely on the opening game of the FIFA World Cup in fewer than 500 days. While the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Africa Cup of Nations (due to be held in Cameroon in January-February 2022) have yet to determine their continental champions (Qatar won the 2019 Asian Cup), history shows that the heavyweight nations of Europe and South America will once again be the main contenders for the World Cup.
France has the team to rebound from Euro 2020 failure and win back-to-back World Cups, while Italy will aim for a FIFA World Cup 2022 double after failing to qualify for Russia 2018.
Who are the frontrunners?
While both Euro 2020 and the Copa America produced drama and powerful victors in Italy and Argentina, it is fair to conclude that neither team is currently poised to dominate for years to come. The international game lacks teams like Spain, which won three major championships between 2008 and 2012, or France, which won the 1998 World Cup before going on to win Euro 2000.
Brazil continues to promise more than they give, Germany is in transition with Joachim Low’s resignation as coach and the retirement of midfielder Toni Kroos, Belgium’s “golden generation” is running out of time to win anything, and Spain has to find a reliable striker. England has demonstrated that they have the players to thrive on the international level and will be real challengers in Qatar, while Italy will be boosted by their Euro 2020 victory.
Despite their round-of-16 elimination, France remains the favourite Football to win the next World Cup. Their roster remains the finest in the world, so expect Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and the rest of Didier Deschamps’ team to use their disappointment at Euro 2020 as fuel to win again.
Argentina, how about you?
Argentina’s Copa America victory was their first continental championship since 1993, thus breaking their abnormally lengthy streak of failure would only enhance their attitude heading into Qatar.
Argentina hasn’t won the World Cup since Diego Maradona led them to victory in 1986, so that is the task confronting Messi ahead of what will almost probably be his final chance to become a world champion.
Argentina, on the other hand, is an ageing side; the average age of their Copa-winning roster was 27.1 years. Messi is 34 years old, whereas Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, and Nicolas Otamendi were all 33 years old when they won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. Lautaro Martinez of Inter Milan, who will be 25 in Qatar Football, will be a key factor, but unless Argentina can discover some dazzling new talent in the next 16 months, a World Cup victory appears improbable.
South America’s sole hope for achievement?
Yes, in a realistic sense. Argentina, as previously said, is likely to be too old to contend for the championship due to a lack of rising potential. Uruguay’s team is younger than Argentina’s Due to a dearth of fresh players, Chile has turned to English-born Blackburn Rovers attacker Ben Brereton, while Colombia has shown nothing to suggest they can compete in Qatar.