The World Cup is edging closer and anticipation will be ramping up ahead of Friday’s draw to learn how the group stages will shape up.
While the global showpiece event usually takes place in summer, we will all have to wait patiently until November 21 for the tournament to begin before the final takes place on December 18.
So swap those beers and barbecues in the sun for mulled wine and outdoor heating – Qatar 2022 is coming!
England booked their place at the World Cup months ago and will go into the tournament as one of the heavy favourites.
Fresh from their brilliant run at Euro 2020 to reach the final (we won’t talk about the result), Gareth Southgate’s side will undoubtedly be much feared.
That tournament experience will be invaluable with Harry Kane leading the line, Declan Rice a wall in midfield and Jordan Pickford ever reliable in an England shirt.
Could it finally be coming home? Well at least it won’t be ‘coming Rome’ after Italy crashed out to North Macedonia in the World Cup play-offs.
Before we get too carried away about the thought of an early Christmas present to the nation when Southgate and Kane bring home the trophy, there’s plenty of other nations who are heading into the tournament in sparkling form.
Three-time winners Brazil cruised to World Cup qualification as they did not lose a game in their 17 qualifiers played.
With 14 wins and three draws, plus only five goals conceded, the South American side will be up there with the favourites to win the whole thing.
Neymar fired in eight goals in total, the second top scorer in the CONMEBOL region, as Brazil broke the record of most points racked up at the qualifying stage.
Fresh from his brilliant form for Arsenal, Gabriel Martinelli made his debut for the senior side this year and impressed after coming off the bench in a 4-0 win over Bolivia.
Tite’s side are definitely ones to watch and the longer England can avoid them the better.
Hot on Brazil’s heels were Argentina who also did not lose a game during the whole qualification period.
They drew three more games than their South American rivals to finish second, but their campaign was no less impressive.
Lionel Messi continues to show he can do it on the international stage with seven goals in qualifying, joint with teammate Lautaro Martinez.
Messi may be struggling for form with Paris Saint-Germain, but he looks as good as ever for his national side. In fact, Argentina have not lost when Messi has scored since 2009, while Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez has never lost for Argentina keeping 11 clean sheets in 16 games.
Messi, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner finally won Copa America to end this myth that he never produces for his country, and you could tell what it meant to him.
Argentina agonisingly lost to German in the 2014 final and maybe it is time for one ‘Last Dance’ for Messi and his country in what could be his final World Cup.
Unbeaten in 31 games, this is their best run in 30 years.
France are the reigning World champions and have a squad bursting with talent. Euro 2020 should have been theirs to lose before they suffered a shock exit to Switzerland in the round of 16.
Didier Deschamps’ side breezed through the group stages without losing a game to book their place for Qatar.
They have won their last seven straight games, including an 8-0 win over Kazakhstan where Kylian Mbappe scored four goals.
With the likes of Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba in their side, they look like world beaters and England need to watch out for Les Bleus.
The 2016 European Championship winners may have needed the play-offs to get to Qatar 2022, but don’t write them off just yet.
North Macedonia did them a huge favour and took out Italy, meaning they did not have to face Roberto Mancini’s side to book their place for the World Cup.
It will in all likelihood be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final World Cup, his fifth in total, and you would not put it past him to do something special.
A hugely talented side also contains Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix.
Portugal could be one of the ones to watch.
…and don’t forget Germany
Let’s be honest… Germany have looked a shadow of the side that made them so feared at major tournaments for decades.
After winning the World Cup in 2014, they crashed out at the group stages in Russia and then were well beaten by England at Euro 2020 in the round of 16.
But with Hansi Flick in charge, the former Bayern Munich coach who won just about everything, there are plenty of reasons to fear the Germans.
They so nearly had a perfect record in qualification, winning nine and losing once, as they cruised to their place at Qatar 2022.
There’s plenty to like about this current team who boast talents like Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka.
Follow the World Cup draw
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