France: the clear favorite

Fifa Ranking – 3rd

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France, led by Didier Deschamps, got off to a solid start in World Cup qualifying after being drawn into Group A that featured Ukraine, Finland, and so on. The Socceroos’ offense scored goals against France’s defense 3x times out of 8 matches. But France still finished above the Ukraine because its team allowed only 3 golaes out of 8 matches. Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, and Karim Benzema were the stars of Les Bleus. For more detailed analysis on France click here.

Notable Player – Kylian Mbappe

Belgium: winning mindset

Fifa Ranking – 2nd

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Despite tricky qualification opponents such as the Czech Republic and Wales, Belgium was expected to win Group E by topping the group with a 5-point cushion and scoring an impressive 25 goals in just eight matches. The Red Devils’ 13 goals against Belarus and 5 goals against Estonia were not surprising because they are a very strong team. Read more on Belgium.

Notable Player – Kevin De Brunye

Spain: perfect balance between youth and quality

Fifa Ranking – 7th

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Spain’s World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a sluggish start when La Roja opened the Group G competition against Greece, eventually drawing 1-1 at home in their opening match and then losing to Sweden in the wake of a struggling narrow win against Georgia.

Notable Player – Ferran Torres

England: stronger than ever

Fifa Ranking – 5th

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Under Gareth Southgate, England have been one of the top national teams in Europe and the world. They finished fourth at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and recently lost to Italy on penalties in the finals of Euro 2020. Despite the string of gifted players that have emerged from England, the team has not experienced a level of success comparable to other top-ranked teams. Their confidence and form going into the Qatar tournament is impressive, though, with their 3.9 goals per match and +3 goal difference in UEFA qualifying being the best in their group. Read more on England

Notable Player – Raheem Sterling

Denmark: offensive quality

Fifa Ranking – 11th

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When Denmark went on to win Euro 2020 in the wake of Christian Eriksen’s near-tragedy, it was a fairy-tale run. But Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand made it clear that this was no flash in the pan performance; they had been excellent on their way to qualifying for Euro 2020. Denmark have a good record in European competition, but they have never progressed beyond the World Cup quarterfinals. Their ability to progress past the group stage is credible, but they are unlikely to be considered favourites.

Notable Player – Christian Eriksen

Portugal: the perfect opportunity for CR7

Fifa Ranking – 8th

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After just missing out on a spot at the World Cup in Group A, Portugal claimed the top spot in the playoff table, ensuring Cristiano Ronaldo would make his last hurrah at the World Cup. Portugal may have nearly not qualified for the World Cup, but they’ll be a squad to watch once the tournament begins. With Cristiano Ronaldo and a talented roster, Portugal could surprise some teams and make a run in the tournament.

Notable Player – Cristiano Ronaldo

Netherlands: the total soccer that can surprise everyone

Fifa Ranking – 10th

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It’s hard to believe that the Netherlands, a nation that played an important role in shaping the beautiful game right down to its roots, has never won a World Cup. Even more surprising is the fact that they have often failed to qualify for the tournament in recent years! After the Netherlands dumped out of Euro 2016 in the Round of 16, Louis van Gaal had a massive task of restoring the reputation of the Dutch. They may have topped Group G ahead of Turkey and Norway, but there are still questions about their ability to score goals from different avenues.

Notable Player – Virgil Van Dijk

Germany: the underdog favorites

Fifa Ranking – 12th

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Looking back to 2014, Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of Brazil after demolishing their qualifying group seems like a lifetime ago. But more recently, Die Mannschaft have been unceremoniously dumped out of the group stage at Russia 2018 after demolishing their qualifying group. Which Germany will show up in qualifying for the World Cup remains to be seen. However, considering Germany’s recent run of victories and the fact they have scored 31 goals and allowed only two in seven matches under Hansi Flick, it seems that they are beginning to find their form. For more analysis on Germany click here.

Notable Player – Joshua Kimmich

Croatia: an effective style of play

Fifa Ranking – 16th

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Fairytale runs are common for the Balkan nation. After they became an independent nation, they played brilliantly at the World Cup. In 1998, Davor Šuker led them to a great finish: third place. In 2018, they lost in the final versus France. Many of their top players are old and some questions about the future have started to rise. However, the team still has many good players and is able to be successful in qualifying tournaments.

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Notable Player – Luka Modric

Switzerland: the little giant

Fifa Ranking -14th

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And Switzerland’s defence made it aces. It seems it takes a collective attitude to lock down on opponents and one person can’t be a Swiss army knife if any other Swiss is out of pocket which is why the World Cup will miss Italy after they crashed out in the qualifying playoffs to North Macedonia, like that time they went on a penalty kick shoot-out with Iceland and Luka Modric missed.

Notable Player – Xherdan Shaqiri

Serbia: can be the surprise team

Fifa Ranking – 25th

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When Aleksandar Mitrović scored in the 90th minute to gift his nation a 2-1 win against Os Navegadores in Lisbon last week, few expected Serbia to surpass a talented Portugal team in qualifying play. Since it became its own nation after the breakup of Yugoslavia and then Serbia & Montenegro, Serbia has failed to get out of the Group Stage at the World Cup on two occasions while missing out on Brazil 2014 altogether. The country continues to produce top class players and will be a joy to watch this coming World Cup.

Notable Player – Dusan Tadic

Poland: the last chance for Lewandowski

Fifa Ranking – 26th

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Poland are going to make a great show at the UEFA European Championship. Their star striker Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich is sure to destroy defenses. Poland have not improved their squad, but they still boast other talented options. It’s a blend of experienced knowledge and youthful energy in midfield along with exuberant players.

Notable Players – Robert Lewandowski

Argentina: lots of goals, talent … and Messi

Fifa Ranking – 4th

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For the past 12 World Cups, Argentina has shown up and delivered. This year, however, there’s a lot riding on the World Cup for Argentina. Lionel Messi and Ángel Di María will play their last home games for their country. These players had an important role in Argentina’s qualification for the World Cup. If there’s ever a time where Messi can solidify his legacy in Argentina, it would be when the world comes to watch him win his first World Cup. Read more on Argentina.

Notable Player – Lionel Messi

Brazil: the jogo bonito

Fifa Ranking – 1st

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Brazil and the World Cup are like two peas in a pod, with no other relationship in the history of soccer stronger. The Brazilian national team has played in every World Cup since 1930. That intimate relationship continues into this winter, with national icon Neymar leading his country in an attempt to win another World Cup. With a talented squad and a deep pool of attacking talent, Brazil will certainly be one of the favorites in Qatar. Want a more detailed Insight on Brazil?

Notable Player – Neymar

Uruguay: the golden generation

Fifa Ranking – 13th

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Uruguay, too, has a group of veterans who are on the verge of hanging up their cleats. Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, Martin Caceres, and Fernando Muslera have 662 caps between the six of them. These guys have defined an era and even though they remain at the core of Uruguay’s successful qualifying campaign—two points ahead of Brazil in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification table—who will lead La Celeste into the next chapter? Looking for more insights on Uruguay?

Notable Player – Luis Suarez

Ecuador: the giant killer

Fifa Ranking – 46th

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Ecuador will compete in their fourth World Cup tournament and count their lucky stars a bit after they failed to win in their final four fixtures in CONMEBOL. Fortunately they did enough to secure qualification. But as the lowest-ranked South American nation (47th) and one of the weaker teams in the field, there are few expectations surrounding La Tri and their chances of even emerging from group play into the Round of 16. Even more uncertainty about goalscoring exists, with Enner Valencia likely scoring most of them.

Notable Player – Enner Valencia

Iran: a soccer full of talent

Fifa Ranking – 21st

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Despite having never left their mark in a considerable way at the global level, Iran have proven themselves highly capable at the continental level, having qualified for five of the last seven FIFA World Cups. With the best overall performance in qualifying in terms of points earned, goals scored, and goals allowed, Iran flexed once again did enough to enter this year’s tournament. They can count on a handful of European-based players like Saman Ghoddos to inspire their team at the World Cup. With decent firepower up top they could be a handful this tournament.

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Notable Player – Sardar Azmoun

Qatar: the party owners

Fifa Ranking – 52nd

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Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, the first time it has ever played host to a major soccer tournament. Félix Sánchez’s The Maroon won the 2019 Asian Cup, surprising many with its ability to defeat both Japan (final) and South Korea (quarterfinal). Qatar may not have a large number of famous players yet, but The Maroon are proof that things could change.

Notable Player – Almoez Ali

Japan: the team that will surprise everyone

Fifa Ranking – 23rd

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Japan come into the upcoming World Cup as one of Asia’s favourites. They finished just behind Saudi Arabia in qualifying but this does not tell the story of a Japanese side that look in good shape to compete in this year’s tournament. A country that has hailed some of the best technical players of all time such as, Hidetoshi Nakata, who can rule out the possibility of the side showcasing more global stars on the international stage?

Notable Player – Takumi Minamino

Korea Republic: fast and furious… with excellent play style.

Fifa Ranking – 29th

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South Korea have qualified for the last nine World Cups, but they have never reached the final or won a game at a tournament as co-hosts in 2002. Since then, South Korea has finished as one of Asia’s top two teams in six consecutive World Cup qualifying campaigns. Their latest qualification campaign ended with a loss to the United Arab Emirates, but this time South Korea have an advantage—Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min will be available for the first two games of their Group F matches. But can South Korea improve on their previous World Cup showings? Their answer should be revealed soon.

Notable Player – Son Heung-min

Saudi Arabia: passion and soccer

Fifa Ranking – 53rd

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A country with a national soccer team made up of players who play in Saudi Arabia (where five of the players are based), they reached the World Cup for the first time in 1994. They emerged from a group containing the Netherlands, Belgium and Morocco, their only high watermark. Since then, they have competed at four more World Cups without any success.

Notable Player – Yasser Al-Shahrani

Morocco: a strong and difficult team to beat

Fifa Ranking – 24th

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Morocco, long a bit-part player on the international stage, finally made it to the World Cup in 1994. The North African nation has reached the knockout stage just once (1986), but its recent results have been quite respectable. In Russia 2018’s Group C, Morocco defeated Iran and Spain before being eliminated by European powerhouse Portugal.

Notable Player – Achraf Hakim

Senegal: ready to win

Fifa Ranking – 20th

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After leading his country to its first-ever international honour at the Africa Cup of Nations, Sadio Mané was able to lead Senegal through the second round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Senegal then defeated Egypt in a penalty shootout after a draw over two legs in the third round.

Notable Player – Sadio Mane

Tunisia

Fifa Ranking – 35th

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Tunisia have not had much success in the World Cup but made it to the quarterfinals at the AFCON. Although they were disappointed with a 1-0 aggregate loss to Burkina Faso, they still have exciting attacking players like Wahbi Khazri, plus young stars such as Hannibal Mejbri, who was recently sold to Manchester United. Getting out of the group stage is surely an attainable goal for this Tunisian side.

Notable Player – Wahbi Khazri

Ghana: the african surprise

Fifa Ranking – 60th

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Ghana has long been one of the most exciting teams in Africa, but it was not until World Cup 2010 in South Africa that Ghana made a splash on the international scene. They unfortunately were eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals by Uruguay, and since then have appeared at three World Cup tournaments, most recently in Brazil in 2014. However, they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but they did beat powerhouse Nigeria and progressed to Qatar by the narrowest of margins.

Notable Player – Thomas Partey

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Cameroon: the soccer lions

Fifa Ranking – 37th

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Cameroon very nearly missed out on the World Cup after performing admirably at the African Cup of Nations as host nation. However, the team’s story in qualifying against Algeria in the third round is the stuff dreams are made of. Cameroon won 2-1 away in stoppage time, with Karl Toko Ekambi scoring a goal that booked their participation in the World Cup. The goal broke Algerian hearts, who had previously defeated Cameroon 1-0 on home soil. Vincent Aboubakar will be the focal point once again for his country, but he is certainly up to it.

Notable Player – Vincent Aboubakar

To find out more about Cameroon’s insights and odds, click here.

Canada: new soccer talents

Fifa Ranking – 38th

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For the second time in its history, Canada is off to the World Cup after a successful run in qualifying. Canada didn’t lose a game, finishing ahead of Mexico and the USA, which they will face in group play at the World Cup. Three familiar names are Cyle Larin, Jonathan David, and Alphonso Davies; but there are other players you should watch for besides those three, like Lucas Cavallini, Stephen Eustáquio, and Tajon Buchanan. For more insights and odds on Canada, Click here.

Notable Player – Alphonso Davies

United States: the American Promise

Fifa Ranking – 15th

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Americans who know and love soccer are well aware of the high level of talent the United States men’s national team has at the moment. Never before have so many U.S. soccer players been at the forefront of youth development or plying their trades at the highest level in Europe, but even with this promising young talent, questions still exist about whether talent alone will be enough to help the USMNT have a successful World Cup campaign under head coach Gregg Berhalter. With so much young talent on the U.S. roster, anything is possible in Qatar. The Americans’ potential is exciting—and it is also promising.

Notable Player – Christian Pulisic

Mexico: the “Tri” is ready to attack

Fifa Ranking – 9th

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Although they will be disappointed not to have topped World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF, Mexico still secured their place at the 2022 World Cup after finishing ahead of USA and Canada on goal difference while comfortably securing a place ahead of their bitter rivals. Although FIFA ranks them quite high up the global soccering ladder, there is a sense that Mexico is not the team it used to be. However, with Wolves striker Raul Jimenez and the performance they showed against Germany in 2018, Mexico could well be a threat at this tournament. Mexico are always a welcome feature every four years.

Notable Player – Raúl Jiménez

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