The preeminent international football competition, the FIFA World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 due to World War II. Brazil leads all nations with five FIFA World Cup victories, but hasn’t won since 2002. The four most recent victors are Italy (2006), Spain (2010), Germany (2014), and France (2018).
The 2018 FIFA World Cup was held in Russia and, for the first time ever, a west Asian nation will host the tournament in 2022. Qatar, which will also be the smallest country to host the event, was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup on December 2, 2010 in favor of potential hosts Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, and the US. While the tournament is still more than two years away, there are already betting favorites based on past results and the talent available to each country. The following are the top five early contenders to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
France won its second FIFA World Cup in 2018 and is the only nation to win multiple World Cups since 1998. To that end, it should come as no surprise that the European country is considered a favorite to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup. While it should be noted that no team has repeated as a World Cup champion since Brazil in 1962, France has age and star power working in its favor. The country was tied with England for having the second-youngest team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup with an average player age of 26. Moreover, its best player, Kylian Mbappe, was only 19 years old during the 2018 tournament and scored four goals, including two in a knockout stage game against Argentina. Although Croatia’s Luka Modric won the Golden Ball as the best overall player in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Mbappe later won the FIFA Young Player Award.
France is also expected to return young players like fullbacks Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard as midfielders Paul Pogba and Corentin Tolisso, all of whom will still be under 30 years old. The team’s goaltender from 2018, Hugo Lloris, will be 35 years old, which is still relatively young for that position.
No country has won more World Cups than Brazil, so it’s hard to leave out the South American country when considering favorites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. While Brazil didn’t advance beyond the quarter-finals in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and has not won Copa America in a dozen years, it was ranked as the third-best team in the world by FIFA as of September 19. More impressively, Brazil was able to win Copa America without Neymar Jr., who is the third-highest paid player in the world with an annual salary and bonus of $75 million. He has scored 230 goals in 383 matches across various competition levels and will still only be 30 years old at the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Spain faced its third-consecutive disappointing international tournament result at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as it lost its Round of 16 match against Russia. However, the country is still considered an early favorite for the next World Cup due in part to its decorated history. Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and has been a top-five country, on average, since the creation of the FIFA World Rankings in 1992. It was ranked No. 1 in the world from 2008 to 2013 and is currently ranked No. 7. Spain likely won’t have any of the players it had from 2008 to 2012, considered its Golden Generation, at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, it has high hopes for young players Carles Alena and Marco Asensio, among others.
Germany has won four FIFA World Cups and finished as a runner-up in four tournaments, but is coming off a forgettable performance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The country finished fourth in Group F after losing to both Mexico and South Korea. Working in Germany’s favor for 2022 is the fact that it had the sixth-youngest team in 2018 and possesses key young players like Matthias Ginter, Niklas Sule, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Leon Goretzka, and Timo Werner. Kimmich is regarded as one of the best right backs in the world right now, while Werner has the ability to be a dominant striker for Germany in 2022.
Although Belgium wasn’t considered one of the top five early betting favorites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it’s hard to ignore the European nation, especially since it was ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA as of September 2019. Belgium has never won the FIFA World Cup, nor has it even reached the final of the tournament, but it is in the midst of its Golden Generation of football players and reached the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup before losing a close 1-0 match against the eventual champion, France. It has won its last eight matches and, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has only lost five of 48 its matches since June 2016.