World Cup Opinion Piece
November 22nd, 2022 | Football
First of all I would like to say this article isn’t everything I wanted it to be. I wanted to write a long analytical article, like I did for the EUROs. However, due to a mixture of working and sickness I’ve been limited to this. In this article I’m going to name four teams I feel can win the tournament and why I think they can do it.
Brazil are very good. There are no real weak links in their squad, with plenty of depth. The experience in their squad is also immense, with the likes of Casemiro, Neymar Jr, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos. They have a relatively settled side, with each player understanding their role. I like the overall balance of their team with a really good blend of tenacity and flair. They seem to have a good team spirit and a mentality that they believe they can beat anyone. The only thing I feel Brazil lack is a “traditional” no.9 of a high level, but that’s only a slight concern. Another major positive for Brazil is a lot of their core players like Casemiro, Fred, Marquinhos, Neymar, Telles, Fabinho, Thiago Silva are all older than 29, so have experience, and have played at a high level for a number of years. But on the flip side of that, it means it’s likely the last world cup for a lot of the aforementioned players, at least at their highest level. Brazil are lucky to have this amount of experience and it will put them to a good position to win the tournament.
For me, I believe England will win the World Cup this year. It seems a lot of people have written the Three Lions off. England have done really well in the last two major tournaments, reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and the final of the Euros last year. Similarly to the Netherlands, England have kept a lot consistency in terms of personnel, which again will benefit the team regarding the limited preparation time. The fact England can also change formations game-to-game with minimum disruption may also prove to be an advantage when facing various opposition. England have a team where everyone understands their role and usually perform to a very high standard. There is great organisation defensively and flexibility in how they attack. England can attack patiently by keeping the ball, but are also very dangerous on the counterattack. This ability to attack in two ways is another string added to the England bow. I don’t believe any other squad has the squad-depth and blend of experience and youth that this England team has. There are younger players like Saka, Bellingham, Gallagher and Rice, but they are all experienced in the sense they’ve performed at a high-level consistently, especially in the case of Bellingham and Rice. Then there is the older members like Kane, Maguire, Henderson, Trippier, Walker etc. So I believe with the significant squad depth, tactical understanding and blend of experience and youth, England will finally win the World Cup after a 56 year drought.
Two others I feel will impress this tournament, and potentially win it, are Denmark and the Netherlands.
Denmark have some good personnel, but it is the way they play as a proper team that means tournament football could suit them. They did very well at the EUROs last time out, getting all the way to the semi-final, losing to England 2-1 in extra-time. Denmark have some really good players like Hojbjerg, Eriksen, Mæhle, Andersen and Kjær. There aren’t any standout attackers, which may to prove to be an issue for them, but they always seem to find a way of scoring a goal, and don’t seem to concede many. They have impressively beaten France twice in the last twelve months which further evidences their potential to succeed at another major tournament. They don’t have the best individual players, but their team spirit and togetherness that could lead to them doing well in this tournament.
The Netherlands have an excellent squad and are in good form. Their manager Louis van Gaal will have his players ready, will know how to approach each game and has plenty of experienced internationals to rely on with Blind, van Dijk, Depay and co. There hasn’t been lots of change with the Netherlands in terms of personnel for a while now, so having a settled squad will also benefit them, especially when there has not been long periods of time for the international teams to prepare ahead of this tournament. The organisation and back-three they play may help them see out games, especially with the quality of their three centre-backs, who regardless of who plays remain of a really high standard. The only real issue I can see the Dutch having is scoring goals. It seems like the first Dutch team in years to lack a world-class centre-forward, however they have got the impressive Cody Gakpo, who while not being an out-and-out striker at this point seems capable of scoring plenty of goals and creating chances.
I know there are the traditional names like France, Argentina, Belgium who may do well. However I believe these teams aren’t in the best place in their own ways. France are still a quality team, but have suffered from injuries in the build-up to the tournament, notably not having their World Cup winning midfield of Kante and Pogba. In regards to Argentina I don’t understand why so many fans and pundits are running away with the idea that they are the nailed on favourites with Brazil. I personally think Argentina lack numbers in terms of quality in the midfield and have potential issues in the centre-back area. Again I question the quality especially when Lisandro Martinez isn’t a nailed on starter for his country at this point. They have a world-class attack, but they may be found out against some of the bigger teams. Finally for Belgium the golden generation is seemingly fading. They lack quality depth, are over reliant on declining players and don’t have a world-class striker, which I believe you need if you want to win a major tournament like the World Cup.
So these are the four-teams I feel have the potential to do well in this World Cup. I don’t like predicting football, but here I have shared my thoughts on the four teams I can see doing well. I hope everyone enjoys the tournament despite what is happening off the pitch. Let’s hope for some entertaining matches and an enjoyable tournament despite the circumstances.
Jack is at university studying sports journalism. He writes these articles for work experience.