Contenders and Pretenders of Qatar 2022
Seen most of the teams at the ongoing Qatar World Cup, as we have witnessed shockers, disappointment and utter surprises from the gladiators.
Below are some thoughts and observations:
Brazil, Spain and France came out looking very good. Of the 3, Brazil had the toughest opponent and handled them impressively well. Spain has a young team but the way they controlled possession was a reminder of the great team of 2008-2012. France’s attack is the same one that delivered the trophy 4 years ago. Probably more reliant on Mbappe now than they did back then. Expect 2 of these 3 to make the Semi-Finals.
As things stand, Brazil and Spain will likely meet in the Quarter-Finals. That will be some match. France probably have a more straightforward path to the Semi-Finals
Mid Tier Teams
England, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal. These teams impressed too, though not to the level of the above 3. England were very good against Iran but the defence isn’t that great. Netherlands struggled against a strong Senegal that was hobbled by Sane’s absence. Belgium could hardly get going against Canada. Portugal got lucky against Ghana. We are likely to get 2 Semi Finalists from this group.
Surprises - Saudi Arabia, Japan, USA. More like giant killers. Strong platform for them to reach the second round now. From there, anything can happen.
Germany, Argentina, Croatia. The first 2 lost their games and will struggle to get past the group stages. Germany will need to beat Spain to do so and that is a hard task. Argentina, if they can gather themselves together, might still make it against Poland and Mexico. Even if they do, hard to see them making much progress because a second round against France may be too much for them.
Croatia look their age - a team of old war horses. In the heat of Qatar, the pace may likely be too much for them.
Who to Bet on?
Brazil. This team is better than any Brazil team I’ve seen in 20 years. Maybe even longer. They are not super reliant on any one player, got pace on both wings, sturdy midfield, hardworking attackers, lots of experience in defence, and one of the world’s best keepers.
What’s more, they have reserves that are of equal quality as those on the pitch. If they don’t get complacent and unlucky, they should go all the way.