A very open World Cup, the Devils as outsiders: our favorites for Qatar

Four years after the second star of the Blues, football awaits its new master at the 2022 World Cup. But the contenders, Brazil, Argentina or France, fear getting stuck in the sand during the atypical World Cup in Qatar, which promises to be favorable to surprises. Overview of the various favorites.

Favorites

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    Brazil, France

Brasil awaits its sixth star since 2002 and the crowning glory of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. Since then, the Seleçao have chained disappointments, culminating in the humiliation 1-7 suffered in the semi-finals of “its” 2014 World Cup against Germany before a 1-2 defeat against Belgium in quarters Four years ago. Tite’s team seems solid on all levels, with an impressive attack where Neymar, the star, can be supported, as desired, by Vinicius Jr., Richarlison, Raphinha, Rodrygo, Antony, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli or Pedro .

France does not begin the defense of his title in the best conditions: repeated injuries and poor results have somewhat shaken the confidence of the Blues, fourth in the world rankings. But on paper, the Blues once again have a squad capable of playing for the title, with the spectacular attacking trio formed by the Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann. The new generation, represented in particular by Aurélien Tchouaméni, also promises to be solid. Where the shoe pinches is at the level of the injured: Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté and Presnel Kimpembe are notably forfeited, while Benzema and Raphaël Varane have also experienced physical glitches in recent weeks but have been taken over by Didier Deschamps .

The serious suitors

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    Portugal, Argentina

Portugal arrives in Qatar with a lot of questions in the suitcases. European champions in 2016, the team, still led by Fernando Santos, was then eliminated in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 before having to go through the play-offs in order to snatch its ticket for the World Cup. . The ‘Selecao’ is not lacking in talent, with Joao Felix, Rafael Leao and Bruno Fernandes in particular, but is struggling to renew a game built around Cristiano Ronaldo. The superstar is having a complicated season at Manchester United. But ‘CR7’ remains a scoring machine and the prospect of becoming the first player to hit the net in five different World Cups (from 2006 to 2022), outperforming Pelé, Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, will certainly motivate him. .

Undefeated for three years, winner of the last Copa America and carried, for the last time in the World Cup, by Lionel Messi, argentina, 3rd nation in the world, is among the main contenders for the world title. Coach Lionel Scaloni can also rely on the quality of Angel Di Maria, the efficiency of Lautaro Martinez and the solidity of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and defenders Lisandro Martinez or Cristian Romero to lead Argentina to a third star.

Semi-finalist of the last Euro, eliminated on penalties by Italy, then finalist of the League of Nations 2021 (defeat against France) and again qualified for the Final Four of this competition in 2023, spain seems advanced in its reconstruction. Luis Enrique can notably count on two nuggets from FC Barcelona, ​​Pedri and Gavi, figureheads of a Spanish pool that seems inexhaustible.

The situation of germany is a little different. Eliminated in the group stage in 2018 then in the round of 16 of the Euro last year, for the end of the Joachim Löw era, the ‘Mannschaft’ had regained brilliance at the start of the mandate of Hansi Flick, undefeated in the first thirteen games. But the end of the Nations League group stage at the end of September revealed serious defensive shortcomings and recurring problems in finishing.

On paper, england, 5th nation in the world, semi-finalist in 2018 and finalist of the last Euro, leaves with the status of favorite of his group. But the ‘Three Lions’ have experienced a disastrous League of Nations: no victory in six games, three shares, three defeats and relegation to League B. Despite a promising generation behind Harry Kane, top scorer of the last World Cup, Gareth’s troops Southgate seem to be in trouble since the Euro final lost at home on penalties against Italy. The team nevertheless has the quality to make a good tournament.

The underdogs

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    Netherlands, Belgium

The Netherlands can hope for a good run in this World Cup. The ‘Oranje’, absent in Russia four years ago, have found some juice since the return to the bench of Louis van Gaal, as evidenced by their 16 out of 18 in the Nations League embellished with a demonstration (1-4) at Brussels against the Red Devils. With players like Matthijs De Ligt, Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie De Jong or Memphis Depay, the Dutch can rely on an interesting squad.

After its historic third place in 2018, Belgium does not approach the fifteenth final phase of its history under the same conditions as the two previous ones. This time, it is rather uncertainty that reigns. Certainly, the Devils still have world-class players, like Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne. But the state of form of other executives raises questions. Romelu Lukaku is still out with a hamstring injury but Martinez was optimistic while Eden Hazard is barely used by Carlo Ancelotti. Added to this are questions about defense, where Martinez struggles to find the best formula. Less ambitious, Belgium could however find its account in this role of outsider who starts in second row on the grid. Because Martinez’s team is not lacking in quality and young people are starting to join the selection.

Crowned African champion last February, the Senegal hopes to repeat the feat of 2002 when Aliou Cissé, the current coach, and his teammates reached the quarter-finals. A time announced forfeit, superstar Sadio Mané, second in the Ballon d’Or, is indeed present in the Senegalese selection but could miss the first meetings because of a calf injury. Senegal can always count on a goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, and a defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, of world level to shine.

Finalist of the last World Cup, Croatia can count on the experience of its executives, starting with that of its playing mentor, Luka Modric, 37. The 2018 Ballon d’Or will be surrounded by Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic. Proof that this team remains formidable, it qualified for the Final Four of the League of Nations by beating in particular Denmark and France, world champion, in its group.

On his side, Denmark will also approach this World Cup with confidence: the ‘Rod-Hvide’ remain on a semi-final at the Euro and have beaten France twice during the League of Nations. With the experienced Christian Eriksen, Simon Kjaer and Kasper Schmeichel, Kasper Hjulmand’s attractive team can hope to repeat the performance of 1998, when the ‘Danish Dynamite’ reached the quarter-finals.

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