As we are on the cusp of the 2022 World Cup, fans of 32 nations – and plenty of neutrals – will have their attention focused on the ins and outs of the tournament in Qatar. While the FIFA World Cup is one of the most important sporting and cultural events, it is also one of the most commercial. It’s big business, impacting everything from the sale of television sets to the number of beers sold in your local pub.
Of course, it represents an important four weeks of business for the betting industry too. There are 64 matches across the tournament, nearly all of which will take in millions of dollars in wagers. And plenty of punters will have been analyzing the betting odds for the tournament ever since the countdown began in Russia four years ago after France were crowned as champions.
But what can those betting markets tell us about the upcoming tournament (November 20th – December 18th)? Let’s take a look at some of the most intriguing narratives heading into the big tournament in Qatar.
Brazil favorites for 6th title
We might say that this is an open tournament, and there’s certainly a sense that at least eight teams – perhaps a dozen – have a fighting chance of winning the World Cup. But there is an almost universal agreement that Brazil should be favorites. The odds put the Brazilians somewhere around the 4/1 mark, which puts them as firm favorites, but not in the red-hot category. As we said, it’s wide open.
France problems mount up
Les Bleus won the 2018 World Cup as favorites, and many thought that Didier Deschamps’ team could go on to dominate international football for a generation. After all, the French had an incredibly talented squad, but it was also a youthful one. Indeed, many thought that France would peak by 2022. However, problems have dogged the set-up, and that has been borne out with some poor results. Odds of 11/2 make the French second favorites, but there have been some off-putting performances of late.
The chasing pack
We mentioned that several teams have a fair chance of winning the world’s biggest sports tournament next month, and that is evident in how the sportsbooks have stacked the betting markets. Six teams – Brazil, France, Argentina, Germany, England, and Spain have odds in single figures, i.e., 9/1 or below. Moreover, there are a bunch of teams, including Portugal and Belgium, just outside that group.
The English question
England manager Gareth Southgate has been on quite the journey with his national team. An unpopular appointment, he won the hearts of the England fans by reaching the Semi-Finals of the 2018 Wolrd Cup, then went one better by making the Euro 2020 Final. The team felt like it had momentum behind it, and many thought it would culminate in a first major tournament victory since 1966. But the wheels have come off somewhat. England remain respected in the odds, but the 3 Lions were once only behind Brazil. There’s pressure on Southgate to turn things around.
Farewell to two legends No two players have defined footballing excellence more than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 21st century. This looks likely to be their final World Cup appearance: Can they cap off incredible international careers with the biggest prize of all? While their prowess is uncontested, it has always been the case that they have achieved the big one, unlike the others in the footballing greats pantheon – Pele, Diego Maradona. Could this be the moment? Messi, in particular, will be confident, given Argentina won the recent Copa America, beating Brazil in the final.