The FIFA World Cup is just a few days away, and that means it’s time to make some predictions and break down some storylines to keep an eye on throughout the tournament. Let’s start with some intriguing storylines. 

Messi and Ronaldo get their last shot at World Cup glory

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the greatest players of all time, if not the two greatest players, but neither of them have reached the elusive World Cup glory that greats like Pele, Maradona, and others have reached. 2022 is very likely to be the last World Cup for both players. Can one of them get their hands on the one trophy that has eluded them throughout their careers?

Time for an African breakthrough?

With four African teams in the World Cup, can an African team make it past the quarter finals for the first time? It is unlikely, but which African team could potentially breakthrough and reach the semifinals?

Will France continue the World Cup winners’ curse?

When France won the World Cup in 1998, they inadvertently started a curse on World Cup champions. Starting in 2002, every previous World Cup winner has been eliminated at the group stage of the next tournament, with the exception of the 2006 Brazil team (Brazil won in 2002). France in 2002, Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014, and Germany in 2018 all suffered early exits. Could France follow suit in 2022, or can they end the curse that they started?

What country will be the one to shock the world?

In the 2018 World Cup, Croatia surprised everyone by making it to the World Cup final. In 2014, it was Costa Rica who topped a group that included Uruguay, Italy, and England, then reached the quarterfinals before losing to the eventual third place finishers, the Netherlands. And in 2010, Ghana reached the quarterfinals at the first World Cup to be played in Africa. Who will be this year’s Cinderella story?

With these storylines out of the way, it’s now time to dive into my predictions for the 2022 World Cup.

Group Stages

The group stages have many interesting matchups to watch, with four teams in each group, and the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout rounds. There are eight groups, meaning 16 teams will advance and 16 teams will be done after just 3 games. Let’s get into my group predictions for each group.

Group A

Pos Teams
1 Netherlands
2 Senegal
3 Qatar
4 Ecuador

I believe Qatar gets off to a good start in the opening game of the World Cup, which is why I have them beating Ecuador out for 3rd place, but I ultimately felt Senegal and the Netherlands have too much talent to not advance in this group. The Netherlands will rely heavily on Virgil van Dijk anchoring their defensive unit, with the midfield having Frankie de Jong playing a pivotal role. There are some interesting ways the Dutch could go with their attack, but I expect Cody Gakpo to have a stellar World Cup and really put his name on the map. Another interesting option would be Xavi Simons, who has played very well with Gakpo at Dutch club PSV. And Senegal has talents such as Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Eduoard Mendy, and Pape Matar Sarr that I believe will push them to second place.

Group B

Pos Teams
1 England
2 United States
3 Wales
4 Iran

If you had to name a group of death, Group B is probably the closest to that when you consider that all four teams are in the top 20 of FIFA’s country rankings. England is the favorite to win the group, even with manager Gareth Southgate’s questionable tactics and squad selection, as they have the most high-end talent in the group. Key players for England include Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jude Bellingham, and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. However, Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope have been playing well and could potentially step in for Pickford if he struggles. The U.S. has the youngest roster in the World Cup, but it does not lack talent. Christian Pulisic is the most pivotal player they have, and Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams, and Timothy Weah should all have key roles. The one question for the U.S. is who plays striker, and can they step up? The options are Josh Sargeant, Jesus Ferreira, and Haji Wright, although if Greg Berhalter wants to get a little risky and feels the need to make a change, Weah or Reyna could slide into the striker spot and provide a different playstyle if the others are not capable of performing. Expect summer LAFC signing Gareth Bale to step up for Wales as always, but it might not be enough in the group of death. The same goes for Iran, who might not have enough to get out of the group.

Group C

Pos Teams
1 Argentina
2 Poland
3 Mexico
4 Saudi Arabia

Group C is an interesting one because everyone believes that Lionel Messi and co. will lead Argentina through. One player to really watch for Argentina is Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez. It comes down to Poland and Mexico for who will finish second in the group, and although Mexico is favored, I am going to pick Poland. Poland is led by striker Robert Lewandowski, but the big question for Poland is if they can get the ball to Lewandowski in positions where he can score. If they can do that, I think they have a good shot at advancing to the knockout rounds. Mexico is a tough test, especially when Ochoa turns into superman in goal, but I think Poland can get it done.

Group D

Pos Teams
1 Denmark
2 France
3 Australia
4 Tunisia

In Group D, you have the reigning champions in France. I think they will just barely end the curse and finish in second place behind Denmark, who had an astonishing, emotional run to the semifinals of the Euros after the scary cardiac arrest Christian Eriksen suffered in the middle of a match in the Euro group stages. Eriksen is back, and will want to be a big part of Denmark’s talent-laden drive to World Cup success. The player to watch for Denmark is Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. With France, they will look to Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe to provide goals, but they are a bit short handed in the midfield as they are without Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante. Keep an eye on young Real Madrid midfielders Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga as well as Tchouameni’s former AS Monaco teammate in Youssouf Fofana, who is another young French midfielder. France also could be shorthanded in defense with Ferland Mendy already out due to injury and Raphael Varane currently being injured, although Varane was named to the 26 man squad. However, France has a stable of young defenders, with Barcelona’s Jules Kounde, Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate, Bayern Munich’s Dayot Upamecano, and Arsenal’s William Saliba all being 23 or younger. Plus brothers Theo and Lucas Hernandez should be involved, being 25 and 26 respectively.

Group E

Pos Teams
1 Germany
2 Japan
3 Spain
4 Costa Rica

Germany was embarrassed in the 2018 World Cup, falling victim to the curse of previous winners exiting in the group stage, but they have more than enough talent to advance from this group. One player to keep an eye on is Jamal Musiala, who has the potential to be a special, special player for Germany not just in the future, but right now. Japan is a surprisingly decent team, and they play well as a group. Players to keep an eye on are Takehiro Tomiyasu, Takefusa Kubo, and Takumi Minamino. Costa Rica is anchored by PSG keeper Kaylor Navas, but to me they don’t have the talent to really make a push in this group. Then Spain. Spain have loads of talented players, some experienced and some young, but they lack a true striker that can score goals. Alvaro Morata is the lone striker on the roster for Spain, and if I was running the ship I wouldn’t be starting him. That tells you all you need to know. Spain might be able to create chances, but they likely won’t finish them. And a team like Costa Rica could be Spain’s nightmare with how the two match up stylistically.

Group F

Pos Teams
1 Belgium
2 Morocco
3 Canada
4 Croatia

This might be Belgium’s last chance to win with their golden generation, and key players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku won’t want to waste the opportunity. They are the clear favorites to win the group. Second place is a bit of a toss up, but I have a sneaky feeling about Morocco. Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui are key players, and Hakim Ziyech would like to show up to secure a transfer away from Chelsea, where playing time has been scarce for him as of late. Canada were the true underdogs of CONCACAF since they have only been to one other World Cup, but they finished 1st ahead of the U.S. and Mexico in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier. Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies is a dynamic player for Canada, and Lille’s Jonathan David will also play a big role for Canada. It would be a bit of a surprise to see Croatia finish at the bottom of the group in Luka Modric’s last World Cup, but I feel like they are a team that could either go on another magical run or struggle early on and be out before you know it. With only three games in group play, you are immediately in trouble if you lose your first game. I feel that Croatia could run into some early trouble and not have enough games to turn it around.

Group G

Pos Teams
1 Brazil
2 Serbia
3 Switzerland
4 Cameroon

Brazil is the odds on favorite to win the World Cup, and they are easily the favorites to lead Group G. Neymar will be looking for his first World Cup victory, and the best way to start off the World Cup campaign is to win the group. If Brazil wants to go far, they will need to figure out how all the pieces fit into the puzzle, but they for sure have more than enough talent to win it all. Serbia is very interesting, as they have lots of talented players in attack and midfield such as Dusan Vlahovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, but the question for them is will their back line hold up against teams such as Switzerland and Cameroon. I think it might be able to, and that’s why I have them finishing ahead of Switzerland in third and Cameroon in fourth.

Group H

Pos Teams
1 Uruguay
2 Portugal
3 South Korea
4 Ghana

Uruguay will have to balance their mix of veterans and youth very carefully, but if they get the mix correct they could have a very good World Cup. Examples of that mix will be present in whether or not veterans such as Diego Godin, Eddinson Cavani, and even Luis Suarez can crack the starting 11 ahead of younger players including Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez.  I do expect Uruguay to figure it out and win the group. Portugal should make it out of the group, but they could very well disappoint at the World Cup. What form is Ronaldo in after being consistently left on Manchester United’s bench? Will the midfield gel? Will Fernando Santos make the correct decision when deciding who to play? I don’t know. But I think they have too much pure talent to not make it out of the group. Heung-Min Son will play a big role for South Korea, but I don’t think they have enough to get through the group, and I think Ghana could end up being a total mess in the World Cup, as there could be a clash between the Ghanian born and non-Ghanian born players as some of the non-Ghanian born players only joined once Ghana qualified for the World Cup.

Knockout Rounds

With 16 teams advancing from the group stages, there are bound to be some exciting matchups in the knockout rounds. The easiest way to explain the matchups in the knockouts round is to just show them, but here’s the example. Group A winner plays Group B runner-up. Group B winner plays Group A runner-up. Then it’s the same the rest of the way with Groups C and D, Groups E and F, and Groups G and H. Here are my knockout round predictions. 

* I will explain my thoughts for the knockout rounds after we get through them all since I have already talked about my thoughts on each team for the group stage

Round of 16 

Winner Netherlands
Loser United States


Winner Argentina
Loser France


Winner Germany
Loser Morocco


Winner Brazil
Loser Portugal


Winner Senegal
Loser England


Winner Denmark
Loser Poland


Winner Belgium
Loser Japan


Winner Uruguay
Loser Serbia



Winner Argentina
Loser Netherlands


Winner Brazil
Loser Germany


Winner Senegal
Loser Denmark


Winner Uruguay
Loser Belgium



Winner Argentina
Loser Brazil


Winner Uruguay
Loser Senegal


Third Place Match

Winner Brazil
Loser Senegal



Winner Argentina
Loser Uruguay

I believe that Lionel Messi will cement himself as the G.O.A.T. and get his coveted World Cup. Argentina plays for Messi as much as they play for Argentina, and I believe that they will be inspired to get Messi to lift the World Cup. I think Uruguay will surprise some people with just how good they can be. Brazil will be the second best team in this tournament, but they get unlucky running into Argentina in the semifinals instead of the actual finals. Senegal has the talent to make history and become the first African team to reach the semifinals if they are fully healthy. France avoids the curse in the group stage, but gets snakebit by it as they get stuck with eventual winners Argentina in the round of 16. England considers firing Southgate after the World Cup. And the U.S. takes home experience to win the 2026 World Cup on home soil (hopefully).

Individual Awards

One of the most interesting parts of the World Cup is trying to predict what players will make the biggest impacts on their teams. What players will breakout and put their name on the map? Who will become a World Cup hero? The four individual awards given out at the World Cup are best player, top scorer, best young player and best goalkeeper.

Best Player

One interesting thing about the best player award is that the winner of the award hasn’t been on the World Cup winning team in seven of the last eight World Cups. It hasn’t happened since Romario for Brazil’s 1994 World Cup triumph. I’m predicting that trend to continue, as I select Neymar as my pick for best player. Neymar is Brazil’s best and most important player, and in my predictions they will beat Portugal and Germany in the round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively, meaning Neymar will have to be at the top of his game.

Top Goal Scorer

In a similar trend to the best player award, the last time a player who won the World Cup was the sole top scorer was Ronaldo on Brazil’s 2004 World Cup winning team. I also see this trend continuing, but I’m going with a dark horse pick, as I select Darwin Nunez as my top scorer. If Uruguay makes it to the final, Nunez will have to play a big role, and he has been in good form for Liverpool, especially as of late, scoring two goals in the last match before the break for the World Cup.

Best Young Player

In the last eight World Cups, the best young player award has only been given to a player who was on the winning team just once, and that was Kylian Mbappe in 2018 for France. However, unlike the best player and top scorer awards, I think the best young player will go to someone on the winning team, and my pick is Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez. Fernandez has really put himself on the map at Benfica this year in his first season playing in Europe, and with Giovanni Lo Celso out of the World Cup due to injury, there is an even higher chance that Fernandez will get to play a big role in the Argentinian midfield. For Argentina to win, he will have to play a massive role in the midfield. I have just as much faith, if not more faith, in Fernandez than I do for any other Argentinian midfielder this World Cup.

Top Goalkeeper

Now an award with a slightly different trend, the top goalkeeper award has only been given out seven times before, and in the last six World Cups, four of the top goalkeepers have come from World Cup Winning teams. However, I am not going with the trend, as I select Alisson to come up big for Brazil and claim the top goalkeeper award. Similar to Neymar, Brazil will need Alisson to come up big in goal if they want to advance, especially if they have to play the likes of Portugal and Germany in the round of 16 and quarterfinals. And the Brazilian keeper has been excellent for Liverpool this season, keeping them in many games they have had no right winning with some incredible saves. And Alisson can also give you an assist or two here and there if the opportunity provides itself.

That wraps up my 2022 World Cup predictions. It should be a very fun month from November 20 all the way to December 18 when either a new champion is crowned, or France holds on to the trophy. All that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the matches. And Go U.S.A!!!

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