We’re only a few months away from what is shaping up to be a World Cup unlike any other. As it’s hosted in Qatar, the organisers decided to move the dates of the World Cup to November/December rather than June/July to make the playing conditions more favourable. This decision has caused a lot of controversy, as the major European football leagues have to rearrange their schedules to accommodate the tournament.
It has also caused a lot of interest in the betting community, as people speculate on how playing in the winter might change the odds for specific teams. Like many casino players, sports fans bet for fun and to make the game more interesting, however, the return-to-player rate for casino games such as slots and blackjakc is often higher.
Brazil are always one of the favourites going into the World Cup, having won the trophy a record 5 times in their history. However, recent performances haven’t lived up to their lofty expectations, as they were eliminated in the quarter-final stages in 2018. Brazil will be looking to its talismanic playmaker Neymar to make things happen, but they have strength throughout the squad, including Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior. While they may not be the powerhouses they once were, you can never write off Brazil at a World Cup.
Whilst it’s nearly been 60 years since England’s first and only World Cup victory, they’re starting to look a much more threatening team. They reached the final of the Euros in 2021 and the semi-finals of the World Cup the previous year. With star striker Harry Kane (who won the golden boot in 2018), along with an exciting young forward line with the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and Bukayo Saka, they’re a team to watch in this tournament.
The winners of the last World Cup, France, are an obvious pick for the winners of this year’s tournament winners. They have star quality throughout their side, from goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris to PSG star Kylian Mbappe. Their physical attacking style served them well at the last World Cup, as they scored 11 goals in their four knockout games. The French side at a World Cup has always been spectacular or underwhelming, so let’s see which one shows up in Qatar.
Argentina have a long history of producing world-class players that can perform on the big stage, and arguably no star is more remarkable than Lionel Messi. It could very well be Messi’s last chance at winning a World Cup, as he’ll be 35 at the start of this year’s tournament. He’ll be supported by star players such as Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria, which will be a frightening front three for any defence to face. Could this be the year Messi and Argentina put everything together and take home the ultimate prize in football?
We can’t talk about Messi and Argentina without also talking about Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. While the rest of the Portuguese squad may not have the same star power as Argentina, there are plenty of strong, talented players such as Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva who are capable of producing some magic alongside Ronaldo. Portugal haven’t gotten past the round of 16 since 2006, so they’ll be hoping to put in a stronger performance this year.
The Spanish football team has declined somewhat since their 2008-2012 winning streak of two European Championships and a World Cup, but they still have a strong side capable of playing some fantastic football. With young talents such as Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati leading the line and Rodri marshalling the midfield, this could be the year that the Spanish team makes its mark upon the world once again.
Gary Linekar once said, “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and in the end, the Germans win.” It’s a testament to how ruthless the German national team is in major tournaments, as they always seem to put in a good performance, despite not always having the strongest team. They’ll be looking to bounce back from their shock group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup and will be hoping that star players such as Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry, and Kai Havertz can lead the team to glory.
With so many great teams in the mix, we’re anticipating a fascinating tournament where one of several teams have a chance of winning. There’s even the possibility of a dark horse making a run and upsetting some of the favourites. The Dutch team led by Virgil Van Dijk is an obvious candidate, as they’ll be looking to shed their unofficial title of “the best team never to win a World Cup”. The Senegal side led by Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane could also cause a few upsets in the latter stages of the tournament. We can’t wait to see how it all turns out!