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Home FIFAFIFA QATAR 2022 Who are the favourites for the 2022 World Cup? France and England on the move

Who are the favourites for the 2022 World Cup? France and England on the move

Who are the favourites for the 2022 World Cup? France and England on the move

Date published: Wednesday 23rd November 2022 7:03 – Dave Tickner

Argentina have been leapfrogged by England in the World Cup favourites list after their shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia. As England move up the list, Argentina and Germany tumble down it after shock opening defeats to raise suspicions that this whole tournament is in fact a dream yer da is having.

So why not have a quick look at the current top 10 in the betting, then? We could think of literally no reason not to do it, and so we have done it. Teams ranked by best odds currently available at

1) Brazil

Always up there, aren’t they? Always There Or Thereabouts. It’s Brazil! Carnival, Sex, Pele! But when it comes to the World Cup, they’ve been really quite underwhelming for a couple of decades now. Since Ronaldo’s Redemption in 2002 they’ve only made it past the quarter-finals once and given what happened next on that occasion would probably rather they hadn’t.

Still the only non-Europeans to triumph since Diego Maradona dragged Argentina to glory in 1986 and right now they do once again look the likeliest to break that cycle of European dominance. Already this year they’ve won three games 4-0, another couple 5-1 and yet another 3-0. And the teams they’ve beaten aren’t joke teams, either. Chile, Paraguay, South Korea, Tunisia and Ghana are among those swept away by Tite’s side, one that has a distinctly Premier League flavour with your Alissons, your Thiago Silvas, your Casemiros and the Richarlisons of this world all key figures.

Cruised through South American qualifying, winning 14 and drawing three of their 17 games (scoring 40 goals and conceding just five) and being so far clear they never even bothered replaying the Argentina game that was abandoned when Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch demanding four Argentine players go into isolation for breaching Covid rules.

2) France

Holders and possessors of legendarily absurd strength in depth – even with N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema missing –  with the added bonus that the draw throws up the high possibility of a last-16 clash with Mexico, which is basically a bye to the quarter-finals under the ancient, unbreakable if inexplicable World Cup Law that decrees Mexico must always go out in the last 16.

After briefly looking like they might be about to go a little bit France by falling behind to an Australia side seemingly made up entirely of Scottish Premiership and former Scottish Premiership players, Kylian Mbappe then happened and Didier Deschamps’ side absolutely sauntered to a 4-1 win. They are up to second favourites and to be honest their second XI would be about sixth favourites and their third XI would be dark horses.

We’re still not sure France are a side we’d want to be backing when they’re particularly well fancied, and while their upward move in the betting was inevitable after such a fine opening win, there is now a higher chance than before of it actually being Argentina who lie in wait in the last 16, with the disconcertingly impressive England likeliest quarter-final opponents. That’s potentially two of the current top four before even before reaching the semi-final.

3) England

England are of course famously and forever too short in the betting, a position that owes more to the bookmakers’ liabilities than genuine prospects of football coming home, and this is true even before they go and foolishly thrash Iran 6-2 to send expectations soaring and odds tumbling further still.

Came into the tournament under a bit of a cloud after a nightmare run of form. Didn’t win a single game as they bombed out of the top tier in the Nations League, losing home and away to Hungary in the process. They’ve conceded seven goals in their last two home games, which seems decidedly sub-optimal but their recent tournament form deserves our grudging respect.

They once again made short work of qualification for this World Cup, something England do relentlessly and that isn’t necessarily true of all the top European sides, and are the only team to have reached the last four of both the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 where they went all their way to a first major final since 1966 before going down to Italy on penalties.

Have had luck with draws opening up for them, but could well do so again in Qatar. If they can top an initial group also containing USA and Wales – and they really should now– then a last-16 clash against (probably) Ecuador or Senegal doesn’t look too awful. Then it’s just a case of hoping this is one of the tournaments where potential quarter-final opponents France go all rubbish for some reason and – BOOM! – Southgate is back in the semi-finals again and all the doubters and haters will be in the mud.

4) Spain

It seems somehow old-hat to think of Spain as serious contenders these days. They’re somehow a team that rose to astonishing prominence and widespread acceptance as the very best in the world and then just suddenly sort of weren’t anymore, really, without ever being short of good players or anything.

The semi-final run at last year’s Euros wasn’t ever really truly convincing, but did hint at a return to major form after a very meh run. And giving Costa Rica an absurd 7-0 thrashing is, we think all can agree, a pretty good start to a tournament. Especially after what happened to Argentina, but especially after what happened to Germany. If Spain can beat the Germans on Sunday, 7-0 or otherwise, then it’s another early exit for the Germans.

Spain, meanwhile, quite correctly leapfrog all the fancied teams who’ve made ropey starts to the tournament and join the pair who conspicuously didn’t behind the as-yet unseen favourites Brazil.

5) Argentina

Messi’s Last Chance at the Big Dance. Argentina have a formidable squad that blends youth and experience perfectly, and hadn’t lost a game since the 2019 Copa America before they came a cropper against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

They won the 2021 Copa America to finally end Messi’s wait for a major international honour and do still have an excellent chance of adding global glory to continental success after an unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign. But this is the tournament proper, and their recent record even before the shock defeat to the Saudis hasn’t been great.

Since winning it twice and finishing runner-up once in the space of four tournaments from 1978 to 1990, Argentina have been beyond the quarter-finals only once, when they narrowly lost the final to Germany in Brazil in extra-time after a goalless 90 minutes.

Before the loss on Tuesday they had given Italy a 3-0 shoeing in the Finalissima and had won their previous five games by a combined score of 19-0. This is a team and squad capable of far more than they illustrated in their Qatar opener. That they remain fourth favourites despite such conspicuous bed-sh*tting in their opening game says a great deal.

Their path to the knockouts is now anything but a cruise after defeat to the weakest of their Group C opponents, but Argentina should beat both Mexico and Poland before what could be a very tasty tie in the last 16 against France. It certainly wasn’t bad in 2018.

6) Netherlands

The 2010 beaten finalists and 2014 semi-finalists failed to qualify at all for Russia four years ago, but put at least that right by seeing off Turkey and Norway in a competitive qualifying group and there is arguably no team hitting Qatar in better form than the Dutch. The win over Senegal was a tad squeaky but as is becoming increasingly clear with results elsewhere an opening win is an opening win – especially when it’s against what looks very much like the best of the rest in Group A.

They haven’t lost a game since their 2-0 defeat to the Czechs in the last 16 at last summer’s Euros and absolutely pulverised a top-tier Nations League group featuring fellow World Cup qualifiers Belgium, Poland and Wales.

Louis van Gaal’s side won five and drew one of their six games to march into the finals, most notably giving Belgium a 4-1 beating in Brussels on the opening matchday.

Their recent tournament record (outside the Nations League anyway) is wretched – as well as missing out on the 2018 World Cup, they also failed to qualify for Euro 2016. Things were looking up at last summer’s Euros, but waltzing through the group stage with three wins before immediately getting knocked out by one of the lucky third-place teams to sneak through felt incredibly Dutch of them.

It’s coming up on a decade since the Netherlands had any kind of tournament run. And that is far too long really, isn’t it?

7) Portugal

The Euro 2016 victory remains one of the all-time great smash-and-grab tournament successes, Portugal somehow contriving to win an event after finishing third in their group and in which a 2-0 semi-final win over Wales was the only time they won any game in 90 minutes.

That ability to shithouse success from the most unlikely of scenarios, alongside the presence of A Certain Mr Cristiano Ronaldo and all manner of Wolves players, means bookmakers are taking no chances with their Portugal prices.

Their recent form is reasonable, coming within minutes of reaching the Nations League finals before having their hearts broken by Spain and Alvaro Morata.

They’ve also got precisely the sort of World Cup group that could suit them, because with Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in there it has precisely the look of the sort of pool where you can banter your way to top spot with one win and a couple of ugly draws. You’re definitely going to want to win that group, though, with Brazil likely in wait for whichever team scrambles to second place in what we (and nobody else) are already calling the Group of Draws. It is also undeniably precisely the sort of mercurial group where Portugal could finish bottom with one point and no goals as Ronaldo huffs around in more ways than one.

8) Belgium

Is this the actual final last chance after all the other last chances for the Golden Generation to land a major tournament? The reality is that this is a squad whose best days are already behind it, but what they certainly won’t lack in Qatar is experience.

Belgium’s squad contains six players with over 100 caps – Vertonghen, Witsel, Alderweireld, Hazard, Mertens, Lukaku – as well as a couple of novices with only 90-something international appearances in Courtois and De Bruyne.

A smattering of quarter-finals and one semi-final really isn’t a good enough return for the insane quantity and quality of talent Belgium have churned out in the last decade, but they’ve got a tough task in Qatar.

Their group isn’t the worst, with Morocco and Canada unlikely to be much of a threat. And there are few group stage games we’re looking forward to more than their clash with fellow oldsters Croatia, a game where it’s entirely possible there will be 10 players on the pitch with 100 caps (Modric, Perisic, Vida, since you asked) with Thibaut Courtois on track to reach the milestone that day.

The last 16 looks problematic, though. It’s almost certainly going to be Spain or Germany.

9) Germany

Are we… is it… could this possibly… have we reached a point in football where actually it is possible to write off the Germans?

For a team with such a formidable record in major tournaments, though, recent efforts have been spectacularly shonky. After reaching at least the last four of six majors in a row between 2006 and 2016 they have gone out in the group stage and last 16 at their last two attempts and after the late collapse against Japan have now lost their opening game at two successive World Cups. They’d previously lost their opening game just once in 18 World Cups. It’s both confusing and enjoyable.

And unlike, say, Argentina, Germany do not find themselves in a group where you can still firmly expect them to win their remaining games after making a shock bollocks of the opener: their next game was already an eye-catchingly huge one, a Sunday evening clash with Spain that always felt more knockout than group game. Hansi Flick’s side have ensured it now is a knockout game, for themselves at least. They were sixth favourites before kicking a ball and now in danger of tumbling out of the top 10 and the tournament itself altogether.

10) Uruguay
Their last three World Cups have seen 1950 champions Uruguay get out of the group stage and into the knock-out stages and we are expecting the same again from a tournament that has pitched them against South Korea, Portugal and Ghana.

After four straight wins to seal qualification for this World Cup, friendly results have been mixed – from the highs of 3-0, 5-0 and 2-0 wins over Mexico, Panama and Canada to the low of a 1-0 defeat to Iran, who we now know with certainty to be bobbins.

Obviously there are goals in this Uruguay side, with Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez being joined by Rodrigo Bentancur, in a rich vein of unlikely and vital goalscoring form for Tottenham. Can they win the whole damned thing? Probably not. Will they give everybody a game? Lord yes.

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