FIFA World Cup Preview; Who is favored to win this year’s Winter Tournament in Qatar?



The United Sates Mens National Team

Elena De Schutter, Staff Writer

You heard right, this year’s World Cup will be held in the winter! It is the first ever soccer tournament of its kind not to be held between the months of May and July. Hosted by the desert country Qatar, FIFA officials decided a summer tournament would put players at risk of heat stroke and fatigue. On November 20th 2021, FIFA President Gianni Infanito put in a request that was unanimously approved to kick off the tournament a year later, on November 20th, 2022 with its group stages.

Popular national teams such as England, Brazil, and France, are set to compete alongside 29 other countries this year. The tournament starts off with group stages with the 32 teams organized into eight groups of four. These teams then compete amongst themselves in a series of three match days where the top two teams from each group go through to the round of sixteen. From there it is a single elimination bracket tournament that leads to the finals on December 18th, 2022. 

In a poll, the United States of America, is the team most favored at Wilcox to win the cup, followed by Brazil and France. “This goes beyond just national boundaries,” says Chris Bosquez, a senior at Wilcox, “This is about integrity, peace, and justice; the American way. That’s why I think America is going to win.” To prepare for this tournament, the United States Men’s National team, or USMNT, is flying out to Cologne, Germany for a training camp. This is the first time the USA team has qualified since 2014 where they lost in the round of 16. The 2022 squad has the most new players participating in the tournament and by far the youngest average age out of all the countries competing. The question is do these fresh new players lack experience or will their younger bodies put the soccer greats to the test? The United States faces Wales in their first game on November 21st. 

Brazil is the country with the most World Cup titles, five wins, beating out both Germany and Italy with four. They placed second in the poll at Wilcox. Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker was Wilcox’s second favorite in a poll for the best performing goalkeeper award, the Golden Glove. Other popular players such as Neymar, Tiago Silva, and Gabriel Jesus will also appear on Brazil’s roster for the World Cup in Qatar. 

Last World Cup’s champions France were the 3rd highest voted team by Wilcox students. The country holds two World Cup victories under their belt. France is a strong contender with high expectations but recent developments could put a dent in their World Cup preparations. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is out with a thigh injury and is unlikely to play in the tournament. Fan favorite Kylian Mbappe who won French player of the Year in 2018 recently refused to take part in the photoshoot organized for the club due to conflicts over the image rights.  “I still think France is going to win, they have a lot of capable players,” says sophomore Danielle Cohen, “They have young players, they work well together, they won last time.”

Other strong teams such as England, Belgium, Argentina, Croatia, and Portugal were highly voted for at Wilcox as well. With just three months until the big tournament teams have all begun training camps and fans have already sold out most of the stadiums. Who are you rooting for this Winter?