The 22nd World Cup in the history of soccer takes place from November 20 to December 18 in Qatar. As every four years, some teams stand out as favorites. Punicom reviews a short selection of contenders for the title.
Winner of the 2018 Cup in Russia, the French team is the selection to beat for many participants. Since that title, France has also won the Nations League. Its strong point is the attack stars: two of the top six players in the last Ballon d’Or (Benzema 1st and Mbappé 6th) compose it and it can also count on Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembélé.
However, Les Bleus remain fragile. They have lost their magic double in the middle, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté are out, while in defense they will be without certainties between a recovering Varane, a Kimpembe now out and newcomers without experience. A statistic also plays against them: since 1998, five of the six defending champions have seen the exit from the group stage.
Record holder of the number of world championships (5), Brazil is a must when talking about favorites for a World Cup. This year, the antiphon is even more true. The soccer nation is currently leading the Fifa ranking and can rely on a dream attack: Neymar in form since the beginning of the season with PSG (15 goals and 12 assists in 19 games) supported by Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) or Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal). The Brazilian coach Tite, who is probably playing his last World Cup in charge of the Seleção, also has at his disposal an experienced defense with Thiago Silva and Marquinhos as well as Dani Alves, 39 years old.
Eight years after the World Cup fiasco at home and the humiliation at the hands of Germany (7-1), time is running out for this Brazilian generation: this is probably their last chance at the world crown. The Brazilian public is waiting for a world title since 2022, an eternity for them.
Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Rodrigo de Paul, Leandro Paredes, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala and, obviously, Lionel Messi… Argentina is presented with an impressive procession of stars in Qatar. Under the leadership of Lionel Scaloni, in office since 2018, the Albiceleste has gained consistency to become one of the favorites. Since 2019, Argentina remains on a 35-game unbeaten streak, two shy of Roberto Mancini’s Italy record, and should probably beat it during this World Cup.
The Argentines are also the last team to have beaten another favorite, Brazil. It was in 2021 in the final of a Copa America that the country had been waiting for 28 years. Having finally lifted a major trophy for his country, “Leo” Messi should have the fangs to do the same in Qatar and lift the only trophy missing from his collection.
Another footballing monster, another last World Cup. Just like his best enemy Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo will have his fifth World Cup in Qatar. However, the five-time Portuguese Ballon d’Or winner is not without doubts: lacking playing time with Manchester United, less sharp with Portugal, the superstar seems to be wearing out. Fortunately, in the quest for a first star on the Portuguese shirt, he will be able to count on a team with world-class players on all lines. Among them: João Cancelo, Danilo Pereira, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Nuno Mendes, Bernardo Silva, Rafael Leão, Joao Félix…
Has Germany ever been so little feared? Yet everyone knows that “soccer is a game played with eleven against eleven, and in the end, Germany wins”. Although the team is in the process of rebuilding, Hanzi Flick has put together a tasty mix of glorious veterans, promising youngsters and established players. In the first category, Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Matthias Ginter, the four survivors of the title win in Brazil eight years ago. In the second category, Flick is banking on 19-year-old Jamal Musiala and the not-yet-18-year-old Youssoufa Moukokopas, who will celebrate his 18th birthday on the opening day of the tournament on November 20. Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Kai Havertz complete the armada available to the coach.
After the fiasco of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, ended to the surprise of everyone in the group stage with a defeat against South Korea (2-0), Germany wants to restore its image, 18 months before hosting the Euro-2024. For the first time in its post-war history, the German national team has not reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament (World or Euro) twice in a row, since 18 months ago, at the Euro-2020 offset by one year, the Nationalmannschaft had lost in the eighth final against England (2-0).
Other nations can pull their weight
after a semi-final in 2018 and a final lost at the last Euro, the Three Lions have a card to play in Qatar. Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden or Mason Mount will put their talent at the service of the English nation, which is waiting for its first major title since the 1966 home World Cup.
Semi-finalists of the last Euro, La Roja is one of the soccer sensations of the moment. Luis Enrique offers a flamboyant game that relies above all on the collective. Rather young, Spain has no real star but relies on a solid midfield embodied by Pedri and Gavi, the two Barcelona nuggets, the latest winners of the Raymond Kopa Trophy for best young player.
Less than a year after their first title in the history of the CAN-2022, the Lions of Teranga are ready to make an entire nation dream. With its world-class players on all lines (Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Coulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Sadio Mané), Senegal hopes to break the African glass ceiling in the World Cup, the quarterfinals. However, a bad news has darkened the hopes of the Senegalese: Sadio Mané was injured a few days before the World Cup. Despite his presence in the list, he may not be recovered before the possible round of 16.
The veterans of the Celeste, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, top scorers of the Uruguayan selection who will play their fourth world, will guide the promising youngsters, Federico Valverde and Darwin Nuñez. Uruguay will be hoping to reach the last four, or even better, even though they have not won the world title since 1950.