Power Ranking the Top 6 Teams for World Cup 2022
2022 might seem like a long way off at the moment, but we are going to steam through a heavy schedules football over the next couple of years when you consider we have the rescheduled Euro 2021 to add to rearranged domestic and European club schedules.
As such, there is going to be a lot of football to squeeze into the next 900 days or so on the road to Qatar. But for most fans and, you argue, top players, the World Cup is still the prize supreme.
Below we are going to do some power rankings at this early stage. The idea is that it follows the American-style power ranking by taking a leap of faith and not necessarily reflecting the latest football betting odds or FIFA rankings.
Anyway, here is how we see it at the moment:
England fans will shudder at this, having been burnt so many times in the past. But this is no false Golden Generation shoehorned into a starting XI. Instead, Gareth Southgate is organically building a set of gifted young players into a cohesive and exciting team. They are deservedly the current favourites for Euro 2021 at around 4/1, but as high as 10/1 (888sport) for the World Cup. That feels wrong for a team that is just getting better and better.
Yes, you could argue that France’s performance in Russia 2018, plus having a strikeforce of Mbappé and Griezmann, means that Les Bleus should be top of this list. They are, after all, the 6/1 favourites for the World Cup. However, there are a lot of ‘ifs’ surrounding the squad, especially in midfield. Recent call-ups like Tanguy Ndombele and Matteo Guendozi are not guaranteed to be stars of the future, and we would be very worried about Paul Pogba’s injury record. Other midfield options are ageing. This could be a big problem for Didier Deschamps.
Forget all about 2018 and Germany’s worst World Cup performance in the competition’s history. The fundamentals are still sound, and you would argue that the transition period will be over in 2022 with young players – Werner, Sule, Havertz, Brandt, Goretzka – coming into their prime to replace the likes of Kroos, Reus and Neuer. 7/1 (3rd favourites) seems about right.
No. 4 Brazil
It hasn’t been easy to judge Brazil in recent years. One issue that keeps cropping up is the issue of Neymar, and the team’s idolising of the PSG man. He is a wonderful player, but you could argue his attitude and the perception the team is lost without him impacts Brazil negatively. Indeed, you’d wonder if a brave Brazil coach could benefit by dropping the undroppable. On the plus side, Brazil have yet another group of brilliant young players coming through, including Real Madrid pair Rodrygo and Vinicius Jnr. Players like Fabinho, Casemiro and Gabriel Jesus should all be at their peak too.
Our first true wildcard entry. Roberto Mancini has quietly worked wonders for Italy, quickly making them an imperious force again. They aren’t quite there yet, hence the 16/1 odds, but some excellent young players – Zaniolo, Barella, Tonali – are coming through and could form a formidable midfield. Ciro Immobile deserves a shot at a World Cup. He’ll be 32 once Qatar rolls around, but he has enough in his armoury to finally prove he is a world-class striker.
No Spain or Belgium in the top 6? Yes. Both sides have a myriad of issues that we will leave for another day. With Argentina, there is always that feeling the ingredients are there, but the coach has not found the right recipe. That still applies, but the team can be galvanised by winning the Copa America 2021 on home soil and bringing that momentum to the Middle East (where they have played a lot of friendlies down the years). You wouldn’t bet your house on them. After all, Messi will be 34. But Lionel Scaloni looks to be growing into the manager’s job in a similar way to Gareth Southgate at England. Keep an eye on them.