As the countdown to the tournament progresses, we delve into the major World Cup storylines, questions, and hopes everyone anticipates unfolding during the 64 games.
The World Cup in Qatar marks the inaugural winter-held event, but beyond that, as the 32-team contest begins on November 20, 2022, it holds potential significance for various reasons. Can defending champions France or the five-time winners Brazil affirm their position as the world’s best? Alternatively, could an underdog like Belgium steal the spotlight?
Anticipation Surrounding Players and Outcomes
Which players will captivate us, and who might disappoint? Join us as we explore the burning questions leading up to the World Cup 2022.
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Is This Messi’s Moment?
The lingering question of whether Lionel Messi can lead La Albiceleste to victory in what may be his final World Cup lingers in the hearts of Argentinians and football enthusiasts alike. Despite Argentina’s recent Copa America triumph, some argue that Messi needs a World Cup win to solidify his claim as the greatest. Argentina hasn’t clinched a World Cup since Diego Maradona’s triumph in 1986—the same tournament featuring his infamous “Hand of God” goal against England in the quarterfinals. Positioned in Group C with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland, Argentina is poised to top the group, potentially setting up a clash with Group D’s runner-up, likely Denmark, in the Round of 16.
Can England Bring the Cup Home?
The eternal optimism encapsulated in the anthem “It’s coming home” echoes through England, a nation that, despite inventing the beautiful game, has struggled to bring the trophy home since its lone victory in 1966. With expectations soaring, the Three Lions, having secured fourth place in the 2018 World Cup, are favored to top Group B, potentially setting up a match with Senegal if they emerge as Group A runners-up. Can England finally replicate the magic of ’66?
France’s Bid to Break the Champion’s Curse
Remarkably, the past three World Cup winners—Italy (2010), Spain (2014), and Germany (2018)—all faltered in the subsequent tournament’s group stage. Can a talented French team featuring Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappé, defensive prodigy William Saliba, and veteran striker Olivier Giroud navigate past Australia, Denmark, and Tunisia in Group B? Despite their prowess, internal conflicts and clashes of egos seem to be a recurring theme in the French camp.
Underdogs Rising to the Occasion
Italy’s failure to qualify for consecutive tournaments contrasts with the celebration of underdogs Wales, marking their return to the competition for the first time since 1958. Canada also re-enters the competition after their sole World Cup appearance in 1986, while host nation Qatar makes its debut automatically qualifying for the finals.
Ghana’s Quest for Redemption Against Uruguay
Ghana seeks retribution against Group H rivals Uruguay, recalling their heartbreak during the 2010 World Cup. On the verge of becoming the first African nation to reach the semifinals, Ghana was thwarted by Luis Suarez’s handball, denying them a winning goal in extra time. Despite Suarez’s red card, Uruguay triumphed in the penalty shootout, eliminating Ghana.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Final World Cup Journey
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal clinched the 2016 European Championship, but Portugal’s best World Cup finish dates back to 1966, finishing third. Can the 37-year-old Ronaldo inspire his nation to victory in what could be his last World Cup? Amidst recent controversies with Manchester United, the winter tournament offers Ronaldo a chance for image rehabilitation and potential interest from new clubs.
Emerging Young Superstars
As Messi and Ronaldo approach the twilight of their careers, football enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the rise of the next generation of stars. The World Cup provides a stage for talents like Jude Bellingham, Pedri, and Eduardo Camavinga to shine. Additionally, Alphonso Davies of Canada, known for his dynamic play as a winger disguised as a defender, promises to capture attention.
Quarterfinal Matchup Speculations
Should the favorites prevail, the quarterfinals could feature England vs. France, the Netherlands vs. Argentina, Spain vs. Brazil, and Portugal vs. Germany (or Belgium). This potential clash of top contenders early in the competition adds an exciting dimension, especially considering Brazil’s recent quarterfinal exits and questions surrounding England’s international prowess.
Qatar’s Tournament Progress
Almoez Ali’s pivotal role in Qatar’s victory over Japan in the 2019 Asian Cup final raises expectations for the host nation. To advance from Group A, Qatar must navigate challenges from African Cup of Nations champion Senegal, the Netherlands, and Ecuador. Despite being World Cup newcomers, Qatar enters the tournament on the back of five friendly victories, and the home crowd, coupled with Ali’s prowess, could propel them to upset more established sides.
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Q: Who are the key players to watch in the upcoming World Cup?
A: Keep an eye on emerging talents like Jude Bellingham, Pedri, Eduardo Camavinga, and the dynamic Alphonso Davies. The tournament is set to showcase the next generation of football superstars.
Q: Can Qatar, as the host nation, make a significant impact in the competition? A: Despite being World Cup newcomers, Qatar enters the tournament with five friendly victories and a home crowd advantage. The performance of Almoez Ali, the MVP of the 2019 Asian Cup, could be pivotal in their journey.
Q: Will Cristiano Ronaldo inspire Portugal to World Cup glory in what might be his final tournament? A: Ronaldo, at 37, aims to lead Portugal to victory and potentially rehabilitate his image amid recent controversies. Watch as the football legend seeks to make his mark in the 2022 World Cup.
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