The qualification stage for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is officially over, and all of the 32 countries and their eight respective groups have been unveiled.
Surprisingly, there is no “group of death” in this year’s competition, whereas there has seemed to always have been at least one group that was harder to navigate than the others. This means that, despite reigning European champions Italy missing the entire event, there should be a higher overall level of capability in the knockout stage, assuming that the highly-ranked teams make it out of the group stage.
Here is how the groups, and tournament as a whole, shape up.
2022 FIFA World Cup predictions have mostly centered around Brazil, the soccer odds-on favorite to win the competition at +500. Brazil is in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon, all of which are nothing to sneeze at.
Serbia has an experienced, tough-nosed team that is capable of muddying up a match and duking it out with even the most talented teams; Switzerland made headlines last summer by eliminating France, then considered the best team in the world, early in the knockout, while Cameroon has an athletic and gifted squad that was unlucky not to have progressed further in the latest Africa Cup of Nations.
France is the next most likely to walk away with the trophy, according to 2022 FIFA World Cup odds, at +550; they are in Group D with an Australia team that won a penalty shootout to book their ticket, Denmark, which boasts a stingy defense, industrious midfield, and artistic attack, and Tunisia, which is considered, albeit far from guaranteed, to be the easy win of the field.
England is next in the oddsmakers’ eyes at +650. However, bettors should be wary of their recent terrible performances in the Nations League and the fire that manager Gareth Southgate has come under, despite leading his country to the semifinal in the 2018 World Cup and runners-up medal at the last European championships. England is in Group B with Iran, the United States, and Wales, the last of which could provide the most upset potential due to the influence of tricky winger Gareth Bale.
The full list of the groups is as follows:
- Group A: Qatar (hosts), Ecuador, Senegal, and the Netherlands.
- Group B: England, Iran, United States, and Wales.
- Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland.
- Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, and Tunisia.
- Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, and Japan.
- Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, and Croatia.
- Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon.
- Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea.
FIFA World Cup betting will center around the most visible teams and the nations with the biggest stars in the game, but a couple of countries stand above the rest, both in the pool of favorites and underdogs.
Brazil has an outstanding squad from front to back and should finally be back in a position to contend for the World Cup, whereas they had fallen off and were overrated in recent years. France, on the other hand, could be in a position to fail despite winning the 2018 World Cup and dominating recent world rankings. Specifically, their squad, which was heavily influenced by players like N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and Antoine Grizemann, could be in trouble, as two of the three are approaching relative “old” age, while Pogba is completely out of form.
The French do have the likely Ballon d’Or winner in Karim Benzema leading their line, however, which in and of itself could be enough to get them at least one or two matches they did not deserve to win.
Bettors may look at Belgium and +1200 odds and think they have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Still, Belgium is simply not that good right now with a shaky defense, injured and out-of-confidence Romelu Lukaku, and a constantly-injured Eden Hazard. Kevin De Bruyne will have to work an indescribable amount of magic to carry his team far into the tournament, but then again, Luka Modric did something similar with Croatia in 2018.
One of the best-upset soccer picks is Uruguay, who have a supreme attacking line with Luis Suarez and the ascending Darwin Nunez, although they will have to successfully get out of a tough group first. In many ways, they would function better in a best-of-one than in a group setting, so they are a definite risk. Senegal at +8000 could also be a sneakily good investment after they won the AFCON and will trot out World-Class players such as Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Edouard Mendy.