(FIFA via Youtube)
By. Julian Quintero
The World Cup always throws up interesting results, and quite frankly: I am a massive fan of the most chaotic outcome. Saying that the most insane outcome will happen may be silly for most level-headed fans, but I am one of the least level-headed fans out there. After all, anything can happen at the tournament and this year has a bunch of storylines that could throw surprises for the fans at home. With that being said, here are my hot takes for the World Cup in Qatar 2022.
Japan make it out of Group F
An interesting one right out the gate, I have the Asian side making it out of the alleged Group of Death. My reasoning is pretty simple: I have no faith in this Spanish team.
Spain has been in a decline since their 2010 World Cup win, having failed to make it out of the Group in 2014 and past the Round of 16 in 2018. I believe that they will drop points throughout the tournament with what feels like no definitive goalscorer and Japan will step in as the beneficiary of their poor performance. They have been a team that always pounces and takes whatever opportunities are thrown at them at these tournaments, as seen with their performances in 2018 and throughout Asian qualifiers.
France finish 2nd in Group D
The reigning World Cup champions are touted by many to come out and potentially repeat the World Cup. I, as the maniac that I am, believe that the World Cup curse strikes again, just not to the same degree as it has previous winners. France has a lot of injuries to crucial pieces coming into the World Cup, primarily Kante, Nkunku and Pogba.
Sure, the players coming in have been good and will have a “man next up” mentality, but those are major holes the team is missing. France will drop points in the groups and barely scrape by after coming in cocky and confident in their abilities. All in all, we will see yet another tournament go by where the reigning champion disappoints and fails to meet their lofty expectations.
England get knocked out in the Round of 16
Is it coming home? If you ask me, England still have an absolute way to go in terms of how the team plays if they wish to replicate their recent performances. The team seems to be going through a rough patch and they are overconfident heading into the group and the tournament, especially after their performances in the last World Cup and the previous Euros.
That overconfidence will consume this team, and a team that is hungrier in their group, like the USA or Wales or even Iran, will capitalize. This will cause England to face a Netherlands team with something to prove and, in my eyes, a better all-around team that will stomp and humiliate them early in the tournament. Is it coming home? Maybe in 2026… or in your dreams.
Canada and Morocco finish 1st and 2nd in Group F; Belgium and Croatia eliminated
Time for my hottest take in this World Cup and yes, I promise that I am not completely off of my rocker. Like I mentioned in the introduction, I am an agent of chaos that absolutely hopes for the most chaotic outcome that will generate the most outrageous result. This is an opinion I have had for a few months now, and as the time has gone on since the Group announcement, this opinion has grown even stronger. Canada and Morocco are coming into this tournament as two of the most electric offensive teams, with Canada being the nation that scored the second most goals in qualifying (50) while Morocco outscored all their opponents 25 to 3 throughout qualifying.
Of course, this means that both Croatia, the runners-up of the last World Cup, and Belgium, the top-ranked team in the world according to FIFA, would be crashing out of the tournament. This is blasphemy for most football fans. But objectively, Belgium is not the team it once was. Defensively, they are significantly and struggled in all their matches against teams that play with a high pace in the build-up to the tournament. If Canada and Morocco keep up their pacey style and press Belgium high, I believe that the European side will fold like origami paper. Apart from Kevin De Bruyne, I do not feel that anyone on this Belgium team can carry the team, and with this generation being disappointing compared to what they were expected to do, I think it all comes to an end on a low note.
On the other side, Croatia is an older team as well that has greatly struggled against teams that play at a fast tempo. Despite being a team headlined by a Luka Modric that will be playing in his final tournament, I feel that it will not be enough to top off two teams that are growing in strength at the international level and that are entering their own golden generation. I know people will say that all I said feels unfounded and that I am being completely delusional. And honestly, I get it fully. But this is the World Cup, and we have seen things just as “crazy” as this happen throughout a tournament. I will hang my hat on this one, and openly make Canada and Morocco my teams to watch this tournament in terms of “ability to surprise people.”
Uruguay make the World Cup Final
I have a lot of teams dropping the ball in the groups, leading to one side of my World Cup bracket being completely stacked with big names, leaving the other side of the bracket open for a cinderella run to the finals. My money will be on this Uruguay team. A historic side that struggled in 2018 and 2014, they have been nothing short of absolutely phenomenal after a slow start to qualifying. They are arguably at the level of Brazil and Argentina in terms of being in form coming out of the qualifiers, and they have a bunch of players that are currently in form at club level. Namely, Federico Valverde, this team will play you fast, tough and aggressive and that will allow them to make noise at all levels of the tournament. Watch out for the Uruguayans in this tournament, as they look to make this tournament one to remember for national heroes Luis Suarez, Fernando Muslera and Edinson Cavani, as this appears to be their final chance to go to the World Cup.
In the end, those of you who read this will probably be thinking to yourselves that I am not someone that should be taken seriously at all. That I probably have lost a screw. And to that, I say that the World Cup is a place for crazy things to happen and for miracles to happen across the footballing world. In the end, your prediction of the teams finishing in the positions they are ranked in FIFA is just as likely as my outrageous predictions. Let’s all just sit back and have a fun tournament, and let me live with my outlandish thoughts of what this World Cup can hold.