2022 FIFA World Cup Predictions and Guide

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is almost here so here are my predictions! If you’d rather just see a guide to the 32 teams, their players, and other trivia, I’ll provide a link here (as well as another at the end).

Note: I respect anyone and everyone’s decision to follow or avoid the World Cup. I acknowledge all of the problems involving Qatar hosting the tournament and there are several other articles out there that go in depth on that subject.

Group A

Ecuador’s Moises Caicedo (image credit: Sky Sports)

Netherlands are the class of the group although they would probably finish second in several other groups. Only one host nation (South Africa 2010) failed to advance from their group but Qatar are more similar in quality to South Africa than other hosts. That leaves Senegal and Ecuador. Both nations are talented and although Senegal will be without Sadio Mane, they’re not dead in the water. However, Ecuador are a strong unit and could announce themselves to the world by advancing.

1st Netherlands

2nd Ecuador

3rd Senegal

4th Qatar

Group B

Wales’s Gareth Bale (Image Credit: The Times UK)

The optimistic American in me wants to think the USA are capable of advancing out of this group, and they are. However, it would be foolish to overlook Iran and Wales. Iran have one of the most in form forwards playing in Europe: Porto’s Mehdi Taremi. Wales will go into their first World Cup since 1958 led by LAFC’s Gareth Bale, with a supporting cast full of Premier League and Championship level players. Those three are good, but England are a step above and should finish first. It’s anyone’s game for second, but I’ll give the edge to the youthful but talented Americans.

1st England

2nd USA

3rd Iran

4th Wales

Group C

Mexico’s Hirving Lozano (Image Credit: SB Nation)

Since 1994, Mexico have shown up to World Cup tournaments with squads that would indicate they could compete for a quarterfinals spot, but they’ve been eliminated at the Round of 16 every time. A great way to break that streak would be to win the group, but Argentina’s presence suggests that’s unlikely. This could be Lionel Messi’s last chance to fill the only empty space in his trophy cabinet, but he won’t be the only world class player wearing blue and white stripes. Poland have a world class player of their own in Robert Lewandowski, who will be a handful for every opposing defense. Saudi Arabia were strong on qualifying but this group might be too tough for them. With Argentina leading the way, you could argue Poland have a better squad than Mexico. Due to El Tri’s magnetism to the Round of 16, I’ll give them the nod.

1st Argentina

2nd Mexico

3rd Poland

4th Saudi Arabia

Group D

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen (Image Credit: BBC)

Since France won their first of two World Cups in 1998, the defending champions have crashed out of the group stage every time since except for 2006. Coming off of their second triumph in 2018, that should be cause for concern even if half of their group looks benign with Australia and Tunisia. However, the biggest threats are the Danes. A year ago in the European Championship, their star player Christian Eriksen suddenly collapsed and it was unknown if he would even play again. For him to recover, continue to play Premier League football, and be leading Denmark’s World Cup squad in 2022 is nothing short of a miracle. Denmark aren’t a lucky team though, they are a talented squad that made the semifinals in their most recent tournament. Denmark are more in sync and matchup well against France, so they’ll relegate the reigning champs to second in this group.

1st Denmark

2nd France

3rd Tunisia

4th Australia

Group E

Spain’s Gavi (Image Credit: Goal.com)

Whenever two titans like Germany and Spain are in the same group, that usually means bad news for anyone else looking to advance. Japan and Costa Rica have the misfortune, but they won’t be discouraged. Japan are one of the strongest Asian teams and they have more European based players than ever before. Costa Rica made a name for themselves getting out of a tough group in 2014 and their key players from that surprising run such as Keylor Navas are still around. However, I’m not banking on a Cinderella story here. As for who wins the group outright, I think Germany have the edge over Spain in the goalscoring department. It’ll take a while for Spain to get their gears going (they lost their opening game in 2010 and then went on to win the whole thing) but either Germany or Spain can make a deep run.

1st Germany

2nd Spain

3rd Japan

4th Costa Rica

Group F

Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech (Image Credit: The Athletic)

Group F follows a similar story as Group E, featuring the 2nd and 3rd place teams from the 2018 World Cup in Croatia and Belgium. On one hand, both of their cores are aging. On the other hand, Belgian Kevin de Bruyne and Croatian Luka Modric are still among the best in the world and can dictate the tempo of a match. Morocco look to be on the upswing as their new coach has brought back scorned star Hakim Ziyech, and Canada look strong especially for a team that qualified for their first World Cup since 1986. That being said, the Europeans have enough quality to weather the Moroccan sand and Canadian snow storms.

1st Belgium

2nd Croatia

3rd Canada

4th Morocco

Group G

Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri (Image Credit: Belfast Telegraph)

Brazil are the favorites going into this World Cup with 26 quality players filling their squad, world class players in every position besides fullback, and a superstar in Neymar who albeit loves a good dive, means business when he puts on a Brazil shirt. It’s a battle for second between Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Despite Samuel Eto’o demanding his players at least get to the final (no African nation has even made it to a semifinal), I think Cameroon are just not ready to rise up to this challenge. Switzerland and Serbia locked horns in 2018 with the Swiss advancing to the knockout stage of that World Cup, but Serbia are stronger now having kept Portugal from qualifying automatically. Switzerland’s hit list of France last Euros (via penalties) and Italy in qualifying is impressive too. In the toughest call so far, I’ll go with Switzerland.

1st Brazil

2nd Switzerland

3rd Serbia

4th Cameroon

Group H

South Korea’s Son Heung-min (Image Credit: Korea Herald)

Last but not least, you can make a viable case for any of Portugal, Ghana, South Korea, and Uruguay to advance out of this group. It’ll likely be at least one of Uruguay and Portugal as the stronger sides on paper, but Ghana’s influx of talent buoyed by some dual nationals and South Korea’s balanced team including stars in Kim Min-jae and Son Heung-min deserve mention too. Portugal and Uruguay have a mix of aging veterans (Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe for the former, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez) supported with the next generation of stars (João Felix and Federico Valverde), so ultimately despite a challenge from their group rivals, they’ll just about make it through. Whichever team comes out on top will come down to how much Portugal’s play style relies on Ronaldo, and as Manchester United found out, it’s not optimal. Uruguay have less question marks for me, so I’ll pick them to top the group.

1st Uruguay

2nd Portugal

3rd South Korea

4th Ghana

Round of 16

USA’s Giovanni Reyna (Source: ESPN)

A1 Netherlands vs B2 United States

The furthest the USA have made it in the modern era of the World Cup is the quarterfinals in 2002, and if Netherlands is their opponent, maybe they have a chance. However, the Netherlands features a strong defense including Virgil van Dijk and manager Gregg Berhalter foolishly left one of the best American strikers Ricardo Pepi off the roster. This is where it’ll come back to haunt the United States.

C1 Argentina vs D2 France

A rematch of the 2018 Round of 16 matchup, this time France will experience a reversal of fortune. France had the stronger team back then, but this time especially with injuries to Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Christopher Nkunku, and Karim Benzema, Argentina have that advantage. The defending champion curse might not strike the French in the group stage, but the buck stops here.

E1 Germany vs C2 Croatia

While just getting this far is usually the bare minimum for the Germans, this would already be an improvement on their finish from the 2018 World Cup. However, they can’t expect easy passage to the Quarterfinals with Croatia as their opposition. Croatia got to the final last time by grinding out games and letting their star players quality shine when it matters most. Germany have talent, but many of their in form options like Jamal Musiala are still very young. Experience could win out this time and Croatia produce an upset.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (Source: Bloomberg)

G1 Brazil vs H2 Portugal

Since 2010, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal got stuck with some tough Round of 16 matchups which prematurely ended their runs. A similar story here as they face the mighty Brazil. In this Portuguese speaking affair, it’ll be a struggle for control, but Brazil’s deeper bench will make the difference and knock Ronaldo out of the World Cup for perhaps the last time in his legendary career.

B1 England vs A2 Ecuador

A David Beckham free kick sent England through against this South American opposition 16 years ago. Despite that English core being labeled their “Golden Generation”, the current generation of England players has already made it further in a World Cup than their predecessors. It’s hard to find a scenario where England go out at this stage, as long as they avoid a penalty shootout.

D1 Denmark vs C2 Mexico

Remember Mexico’s streak of 7 consecutive World Cup exits? It could easily be 8 regardless of the opposition. Old habits die hard. Some Mexican fans would hope for an opponent like Denmark on paper, but this Danish side has quality and grit that will make it tough for Mexico to break through. Mexico has a goalscoring problem, and while Denmark isn’t blessed in that department either, it tilts enough in the Scandanavians’ favor.

F1 Belgium vs E2 Spain

Imagine winning your group and somehow your reward is playing a more talented squad than you. That’s what will happen to Belgium regardless of whether they take on Germany or Spain. While Kevin de Bruyne is a midfield magician individually more talented than any Spanish midfielder, he could be neutralized by either Sergio Busquets or Rodri, allowing Pedri and Gavi to turn the tide in favor of the Spanish.

H1 Uruguay vs G2 Switzerland

Both Uruguay and Switzerland are experts in grinding out results, which makes this matchup the most likely one to go to penalties. Both teams have some success in penalty shootout situations, although in the World Cup, Uruguay’s most recently shootout was a win against Ghana in 2010. Switzerland’s was most recently a loss to Ukraine in 2006. Their performance in the Euros against France in 2021 is more relevant, but I still see Uruguay getting the edge.

Quarterfinals

England’s Jude Bellingham (Image Credit: Sky Sports)

Netherlands vs Argentina

Croatia vs Brazil

England vs Denmark

Spain vs Uruguay

Argentina and Brazil are in a collision course, and I don’t see Netherlands or Croatia putting up enough of a resistance to change that fate. England will narrowly advance past the Danes in a repeat of their European championship matchup, and Spain will be able to dominate proceedings against Uruguay.

Semifinals

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (Image Credit: NY Times)

Argentina vs Brazil

England vs Spain

Sorry Messi fans, but I don’t see the fairytale ending to his World Cup history. Brazil are a slightly stronger team, and it’s a bit unfortunate that unless either Argentina or Brazil finish second in their group (both are too talented to do so), they cannot meet in the final. So the journey ends here. It’s not coming home for England either, as this Spain team has fewer weaknesses than the Three Lions.

Some solace for Argentina can be beating England for the third place match.

Final

Brazil vs Spain

Despite Brazil and Spain being consistently two of the strongest national teams since the start of the 2010s, it’s remarkable that they have yet to meet in a World Cup final. Better late than never! Brazil’s team is peaking at the right time while Spain might need another World Cup to be the favorites outright, but this would be a fascinating matchup. Ultimately, Brazil are due for their 6th World Cup. Whoever wins it deserves it, hence why it’s been a 20 year wait so far to add that 6th star to their jersey, but if all goes according to plan, the likes of Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, and Alisson will get the job done.

Brazil’s Neymar (Image Credit: Olympics.com)

For more information on the World Cup and all 32 teams, you can view my World Cup guide here. Feel free to share your thoughts, predictions, or tell me how wrong I am on Twitter at @IvanOrnelas2.

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Ivan Ornelas

Loves to write, especially about Survivor, Sports, Video Games, and other Media and topics