Brazil Is Westgate’s Favorite to Win 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Only hours after France defeated Croatia to win its second World Cup title, Brazil opened as the betting favorite to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened futures betting with the Brazil as 6-1 favorites to win the 22nd World Cup.
For those who think France should be the favorite, they were installed with the second-best odds to win the 2022 World Cup at +650. France has a core of young stars — Kylian Mbappe (picture with PSG teammate, Neymar, right) will still be only 23 during the 2022 World Cup — is coming off an impressive knockout stage run through Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium, and Croatia.
Germany, the 2014 champions, received 7-1 odds from the Westgate SuperBook, which is the largest sportsbook in Las Vegas. Third-place finisher Belgium opened with 12-1 odds, while runner-up Croatia opened with 30-1 odds. Spain has 8-1 odds, while 4th-place finisher England has 14-1 odds.
Two traditional football powers which missed the 2018 World Cup and might be on a mission in 2022 — Italy and The Netherlands — have 16-1 and 20-1 odds, respectively. For those who like decided dark horses (or quixotic bets) can bet on the United States to win the 2022 World Cup with 60-1 odds, while host country Qatar received 150-1 odds.
2018 World Cup: One of History’s Best
The 2018 Russian World Cup was considered by many fans and commentators as among the most entertaining in its 88-year history. Multiple games were competitive enough they went into extra time or shootouts, while many games were characterized by aggressive play and well-executed set piece goals.
The competition was unpredictable during the 2018 World Cup, with several major upsets in the group stage and the knockout round. In the end, a major football power (France) won the 2018 World Cup, but Croatia became the second-smaller country in World Cup history to make the final. Croatia ultimately lost 4-2, but the final was more competitive than the end result might indicate.
France v. Croatia: 2018 World Cup Final
France’s first goal was on a free kick won by (what most would agree was) an Antoine Griezmann dive in the 18th minute, which became an on-goal when Mario Mandzukic when Griezemann’s kick glanced off his head among a pack of players. After a strong goal by Croatia’s Ivan Perisic to even the match at 1-1, France went up 2-1 at halftime on a handball call that went to the VAR.
While the handball was fairly obvious, traditionalists had to note the foul would not have been called in previos World Cup tournaments. One British sports media publication blasted, “VAR Rears Its Ugly Head”, in response to the decision. Croatia controlled the midfield through much of the 1st half, and at one point attacking-third touches were Croatia 28 versus France’s 2. Still, France left the pitch at halftime with a 2-1 lead in the only stat that mattered.
France began to assert itself in the early 2nd half and Croatia’s defense began to crack. Paul Pogba began a goal-scoring sequence with a pass to Mbappe, who passed back to Pogba in the 59th minute for Pogba’s lone goal of the tournament and a 3-1. Paul Pogba answered many critics with an excellent tournament, despite the lack of goal production. His play in the WC final was magnificent.
Kylian Mbappe: 19-Year Old Football Phenom
In the 64th minute, 19-year old Kylian Mbappe finished his own brilliant goal to put France up 4-1. In a 5-minute sequence, the final went from a hardfought contest to a seeming blowout. With his 2018 performance, Kylian Mbappe as he won the FIFA Young Player Award. The football press crowned Mbappe “the sport’s future king”. The PSG pair of Neymar and Mbappe (pictured above) these next few years should be scintillating, and those who believe Neymar engineered the move from FC Barcelona to get out of Lionel Messi’s shadow might laugh to find Neymar sharing the spotlight with football’s newest phenom.
Only five minutes later, Mario Mandzukic finished scoring when French goalie Hugo Lloris, who had made a couple of brilliant saves before that moment, mishandled the ball. Mandzukic touched the ball into the goal to put the score at 4-2. Over the next 15 minutes of play, an energized Croatia pressed the attack and had several opportunities to push the scoring to 4-3 and make things really interesting. Around the 85th minute, Croatia’s newfound energy waned and France had control most of the remaining 10 minutes, including the 5 minutes of stoppage time.
It was a “What If?” game for Croatia and its fans. The team’s coach, Zlatko Dalic, after the match questioned the handball call that separated the teams in the 1st half. In the end, Croatia had a brilliant tournament and showcased its skill and perseverance in an entertaining final. France, if one can believe, was criticized for sloppy play in a World Cup final in which it won going away.
France’s Chance to Repeat as World Cup Champions?
That should be the scary prospect for French opponents looking ahead to the 2022 World Cup: France reeled off a series of victories, but never seemed to reach its full potential. The core of the French championship squad should still be in its prime in Qatar in 2022 — or might be improved — and so it is a solid favorite going into the 2022 tournament.
Of course, champions seldom repeat in the World Cup. Spain looked unbeatable in the 2010 World Cup, but it had an infamous burnout in the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Germany was many people’s pick to repeat this year, but failed to get out of the group stage. When France defended its 1998 World Cup title (2002), it also failed to get out of the group stage.
2022 World Cup in Qatar: An Unpredictable Tournament
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is going to be a wild card in-and-of itself. For one, teams from the host continent tend to win the World Cup, or at least have a decided advantage. The 2022 World Cup will be the first time since Japan/South Korea hosted in 2002 that the full tournament will take place in Asia.
Beyond that, the desert confines of Qatar and the time of the year the tournament will be played could play havoc with the 2022 World Cup. FIFA assured that the tournament will take place in the middle of most league’s football season, to avoid the 120- to 130-degree summer temperatures in Qatar. Key players might be injured or hampered by injuries — or quality of play might be better, because players will not be competing at the tail-end of their grueling league schedules.
Whatever the case, the Qatar World Cup looks as if it will have a lot of work to do to compete with memories of the 2018 World Cup. Whatever one thinks of the Russian Federation, Russia put on a first-rate quadrennial tournament. France is victorious, but the entire football community can look back on the 2018 World Cup with nostalgia.