Qatar 2022 World Cup: who are the favourites to win it? Brazil, Argentina, France...
We take a look at the bookmakers’ current favourites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which gets underway in Qatar in November.
Brazil are the bookmakers’ favourites to lift the 2022 World Cup: as of Friday, the longest odds on a Seleção success in Qatar were 9/2, according to Oddschecker.
Clearly, no discussion of the chief contenders is complete without the five-time winners - but, truth be told, they’ve been something of a quarter-final team since their last World Cup triumph, in 2002. Brazil have made last-eight exits in three of the four tournaments that have followed their win in Japan and South Korea. The one time they got beyond the quarters was on home turf, in 2014 - and once in the semi-finals, they were given a humongous spanking by Germany.
In fairness to Brazil, though, their recent form has been more than half-decent. Under Tite, they have suffered just one defeat in their last 29 matches - to Argentina in the 2021 Copa América final - and utterly sauntered through South American World Cup qualifying. They topped the group, finishing 21 points clear of the automatic-qualification cut-off point - despite playing a game less than everyone else except Argentina. (In September 2021, Brazil’s home qualifier against the Argentines was halted by local health officials shortly after kickoff, because four members of the visiting team were said to have broken covid-19 quarantine rules. In the end the game was never rearranged, as both sides qualified automatically anyway.)
The best price you’ll get on a France World Cup win is 33/5, which makes them second favourites. That’s not unjustified, when you consider that Didier Deschamps’ men are the tournament holders. On top of that, they’re a nation that continues to produce talent like it’s going out of fashion - just ask Real Madrid, who have four Frenchmen in their squad, and would have five, had Paris Saint-Germain’s money men not thrown the kitchen sink at Kylian Mbappé in the summer.
France’s recent results have been very, very iffy. They have won just one of their last six games, and were extremely fortunate to escape relegation from the top tier of the UEFA Nations League this month. They were beaten home and away by Denmark in Group A1, and lost in Paris to Croatia. That they avoided going down to League B - by one point - was only thanks to the fact that Ralf Rangnick’s Austria were even ropier than they were.
In recent World Cup history, France have had a fairly all-or-nothing tendency. Winners in 1998 and 2018, they failed to qualify in ‘90 and ‘94, and suffered group-stage meltdowns in 2002 and 2010. Starting with Les Bleus’ opening-round exit 20 years ago, the defending champions at four of the last five World Cups have gone out at the first hurdle. It really shouldn’t become five out of six: drawn in a group with Denmark, Australia and Tunisia, France surely have too much for the latter two, at least. But on current form, who knows?
Like France, Argentina are two-time world champions, albeit you have to dig a little further back into the history books - 36 years, to be precise - for their most recent win. Per Oddschecker, the best deal you’ll get on an Albiceleste win in Qatar is currently odds of 38/5.
At the 2018 World Cup, Argentina were an unmitigated rabble under Jorge Sampaoli. A group-stage elimination would have been precisely what they deserved, but they somehow managed to squeak through to the knockout stages, where they were promptly and predictably turfed out of the tournament by France. However, since Lionel Scaloni took charge in the wake of that torrid campaign in Russia, Argentina have developed into a side that heads into the 2022 tournament with realistic title aspirations. In 2021, the Argentines won their first Copa América since 1993, having two years earlier set off on an unbeaten run that’s still going. It’s currently 35 games since Scaloni’s men last suffered defeat, leaving them within touching distance of Italy’s world-record sequence of 37 matches without loss, set between 2018 and 2021.
A side who eased through qualifying, Argentina approach the finals with skipper Lionel Messi looking in superb early-season nick, after a patchy first campaign at Paris Saint-Germain. So far in 2022/23, Messi has racked up 10 goals and eight assists in 13 appearances for club and country. Ahead of what, one imagines, will be his last World Cup, his sights are trained on the one trophy that continues to elude him.
Ah, England. You won’t often hear it mentioned in the country’s media, but they actually won a World Cup once, all the way back in 1966. Fifty-six years on, the Three Lions are still waiting to lift another major trophy - unless you count Le Tournoi - but they’ve never come as consistently close as they have under Gareth Southgate over the past four years.
In 2018, England reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in just under three decades, only missing out on a place in the final after being edged out by Croatia in extra time. Three years on, at the covid-postponed Euro 2020, Southgate’s men succeeded in making it through to the tournament decider, but were pipped to the European title on penalties by Italy. Can England go one step further in Qatar? The bookies seem to think they could, because the longest odds on an English World Cup win right now are 17/2, making them fourth favourites as things stand.
However, England are another candidate for the cup who approach the tournament in distinctly questionable - well, downright poor - form. Following Monday’s entertaining draw with Germany, they have failed to win in six matches, all of which came in a Nations League campaign that ended in relegation from League A. The negative sequence included a 4-0 home boshing by Hungary, a side 32 places below them in the FIFA world rankings. For the first time since his 2016 appointment, Southgate is under genuine pressure.
After passing themselves to death in a last-16 defeat to hosts Russia at the 2018 World Cup, 2010 winners Spain are no longer trying to recreate past tiki-taka glories and have become a more direct, aggressive side that’s going places under Luis Enrique. With that in mind, the Spaniards’ most pessimistic World Cup odds right now are 9/1.
An abrasive fellow, Luis Enrique has had a testy relationship with the Spanish media, who certainly haven’t agreed with all of the former Barcelona boss’ choices; his reluctance to pick Real Madrid players and Iago Aspas have proved particular bones of contention. But over the past couple of years, his young Spain side has got results that one would be hard pressed to sniff at. Only a penalty shootout separated La Roja from a place in the final at Euro 2020, before, three months later, the Spanish were narrowly beaten finalists in the 2020/21 Nations League. After topping their World Cup qualifying group ahead of Sweden, Spain then sealed a second successive Nations League finals appearance this month - a feat that led Luis Enrique to bite back at his doubters on his Twitter account.
One thing’s for sure: Spain’s World Cup preparations can’t be any worse than they were four years ago.