Sunday, November 20, 2022

2022 World Cup Predictions

The 2022 men's World Cup begins on Sunday, November 20th. That's today if you're reading this shortly after this post has been posted. I wrote a full preview of the 2018 World Cup four years ago, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to put together such interesting facts as the lightest and heaviest players and identifying players named after food this year. I highly recommend checking out that post though. It might be one of the best things I've ever done on this blog. The Thorgan and Eden Hazard joke alone is worth it! Anyway, this year, I decided to ask some friends for their predictions and thoughts on the games.

Matt - Pittsburgh Riverhounds' Director of Communications

Josh - Founder of Josh's World and always up to participate in any of my collaborative blog posts.

The Moose - My 11 year old son

John - Big Croatia fan.

Sean - That's me. Hi! I write this Sean's Ramblings blog and recently applied (again) for media credentials for the Oscars.

Mike - One of regulars on one of my favorite podcasts, Owls Americast. It's a podcast for Sheffield Wednesday fans.

Nick - My brother. He decided to add his own questions and predictions at the end.

Justin - Another Owls Americast regular who you can regularly find at an ice rink.

Matt Gatjka - A jack of all trades. He calls hockey and soccer games and is a certified golf fitness specialist.

1. Who will win the World Cup?

Matt - It seems like the South American powers are the trendy pick, but I'm going to go out on a limb with a repeat for France. I know they bombed out the last time they were defending champs in '02, but with the attacking firepower they have, they're never going to be out of a game.

Josh - U-S-A! U-S-A!!!! Wait, is this men or women?

The Moose - I think France will win the World Cup

John - Belgium.  Yes, I know I tweeted earlier this week that Belgium would underachieve again this year.  I'm still picking Belgium.

Sean - Argentina. It will be a storybook ending to Messi's international career.

Mike - Argentina...Despite being ready for the all North American final that the world wants to see, it'll probably be a European giant who already has multiple stars on their crest. But let's be romantic: Argentina beats Brazil in the most watched final in history.

Nick - Brazil

Justin - No clue - most open tournament since 2006. Gun to my head I'll say the Germans surprise. (Sean's note: Do the Germans ever surprise?)

Matt G. - The Netherlands hasn't lost a match since (literally) last year, and I live in the Dutch bubble of West Michigan now, so I'll go with it. Oranje! Also, they'll throw in a heartbreaking defeat of the USA in the Round of 16 just to rub it in.

2. In the 2018 World Cup, 6 of the 8 quarter finalists were European teams. How many teams from Europe will reach this year's quarterfinals? 

Matt - I'll say 5 European teams, 2 South American and one Asian team make up the quarters — I liked Senegal making a run out of Group A until the Mané injury news

Josh - I am confused, why are there teams from England, Wales, and Scotland? If they just combined as UK, would they dominate? Oh, sorry to answer the question...5.

The Moose - 5 teams

John - I have five, plus two South American and one African.  For the record, none of the five are Croatia.  I am now banned from eating stuffed cabbage for the next 4 years.

Sean - 5. I really want to go with 3 or 4, but I don't see that happening.

Mike - Five. See above. I suppose that's France, Germany, and Italy. add Spain and England, and either the Netherlands or Belgium. This is where someone will go look at the groups and the brackets and tell me why that combination is impossible.

Nick - 5 - Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, England and Denmark

Justin - 5

Matt G. - I'll go with four Europeans teams in the quarters this time around. Two from South America, one from Asia, one from Africa. (Sean's note: This is the first prediction that isn't 5. Hooray!)

3. How far will the United States advance during this tournament?

Matt - Sadly, I'm not as bullish as some on the U.S. team. They're inexperienced at this level and a bit tactically naïve, so I think they get bounced from the group stage but learn some good lessons for the Aaronson/Adams/Pulisic generation to take into 2026 on home soil.

Josh - All the way! I actually have no clue how this works. It is not like a March Madness-style single elimination tournament, right? They do weird pool play. I do not know, they will advance just far enough that people will get sort of excited, and then lose to Benin.

The Moose - I think the United States will make it to the quarterfinals.

John - They'll finish second in their group and lose in the first knockout round.

Sean - I think they get out of the group stage, but lose in the round of 16.

Mike - Finish 3rd in group. The all North American final that the world wants to see is Canada and Mexico.

Nick - Hoping they make it out of the group stage.  Truthfully I think they will be knocked out by goal differential and Wales will advance.

Justin - Round of 16.

Matt G. - I spoiled this a couple of questions ago, but the USA will advance for the first time since 2010 -- actually just two World Cup appearances ago, but it sounded dramatic -- by drawing both Wales and England, then beating Iran. I'm actually semi-excited about this group, if only because we're young and you can always dream on young teams. Also, the expectations aren't high at all. I don't remember being this carefree about a USA team at the men's World Cup for as long as I've been watching. Feels like a recipe for a little bit of success. But they'll lose in the Round of 16.

4. Who will be the World Cup's top goal scorer?

Matt - Leo Messi and Cody Gakpo — both are drawn into groups where they can pump in some goals and advance, so I'm predicting a swan song and a coming-out party to be joint top scorers.

Josh - I would say Kylian Mbappe is probably the best bet to win the coveted Golden Boot. I totally cheated and looked up best odds, and took the guy with a cool name.

The Moose - Neymar

John - This one is tough, I think... I'm going to take an aging Lionel Messi.

Sean - In 2018, Harry Kane won the Golden Boot with 6 goals, but I'm pretty sure that 4 of those came from the penalty spot. That seems like cheating. Since I have Argentina winning it all, I'm picking Messi since he's going to be the one taking penalty kicks.

Mike - Logic...the player who kicks PKs for the team that relies on PKs to win and will make a deep run. So it's Alex Morgan. (Or Harry Kane - but everyone picks Harry Kane.) Karim Benzema because France will make a run and he was unstoppable in the UCL and Sean just told me he's injured. Just put me down for Neymar.

Nick - Vinicius Jr.

Justin - Messi

Matt G. - If the Dutch are to win their first World Cup, someone like exciting winger Cody Gakpo will likely lead the attack. I'll say he gets the Golden Boot with six goals in seven matches. (He already scored in the opening match vs. Senegal, so this is totally cheating.)

5. The World Cup in Qatar is taking place in November and December because it would be too hot for matches played there during the traditional June and July timeframe. Qatar is still a warm place. What will be the highest temperature recorded during a World Cup match?

Matt -  I'm going to say 91. It'll be warm, but not stiflingly so for most of the tournament.

Josh - Qatar is still a warm place. What will be the highest temperature recorded during a World Cup match? 95.3

The Moose - I think the high will be 91

John -  91 (I have a better chance of getting this right than maybe any of the others!)

Sean - 88 just so that I can say Muuuuuuuuuuuth!

Mike - 80 degrees...but what's the question? Temperature on the field during a match? Temperature for that city during a match? Trick doesn't matter. It's not the heat, it's the humidity. In 2019, World Athletics held their Championship in Doha in October. I remember it being bad, but not awful inside the stadium (which will also host WC matches). They did run marathons on the roads. Twenty-six miles starting just before midnight. 86 degrees and 70% humidity for the women. 18 men and 28 women didn't finish their respective races...but that was midnight in October. So if I math that out to December: 80 degrees

Nick - Going with at least one match that hits 104.

Justin - 88 degrees Fahrenheit

Matt G. - Looks like temps are going to be lingering in the 80s at midday for the next couple of weeks, so I'll say 87 degrees will be the hottest. Which reminds me I was just playing golf in shorts less than two weeks ago, only to dig out nearly two feet of snow last weekend. Good time to hunker down in front of the tube!

6. Better joke subject: Referring to the country Wales as whales or singing "I Ran" by A Flock of Seagulls for any mention of Iran?

Matt - Not Ghana go there. (Sean's note: This is the winner!)

Josh - And I ran, I ran so far away...

The Moose - Stop it, Dad!

John - Look at those two fat English ladies over there.
- Wales.
- Look at those two English whales over there.

Sean - Definitely whales. I mean, how will the US get by the Wales defense? They're huge!

Mike - Whales because my temperature answer was too long. And the heat talk made me want to think about the ocean and not Iran.

Nick - Whales

Justin - Neither

Matt G. - My son is pretty obsessed right now with playing iPad games where he tries to spell out country names after being given the flag. That is so say, I've gotten really good at spelling every country in the United Nations at this point. That is to say, Iran is one of those I can easily talk him through. Also, I think of that Lonely Island song about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that samples Flock of Seagulls whenever I hear 'Iran.' The Whales thing is lame. Is that a thing?

7. Will the USA, Mexico, and Canada combine for 20 or more tournament goals in the tournament?

Matt - No. I'll guess 15 between them.

Josh - Yes

The Moose - I think no.

John - I'm taking the under on this one.

Sean - No. Mexico has really struggled lately, and while I'd like to see Canada go far, they aren't winning a lot of 4-3 matches.

Mike - Nine match minimum. Twelve matches in the best case. Nope. 15.

Nick - No

Justin - No

Matt G. - I'll say the USA gets six, Mexico gets five and Canada gets three. So if my math is correct, no.

8. Arguably the most important question. On Saturday morning Eastern time November 26th, Sheffield Wednesday will face Mansfield Town in the second round of the FA Cup. Who will win and will the World Cup delay the start of the France-Denmark match until this one ends?

Matt - 3-1 Owls, and I might have gone back to sleep before then because Australia/Tunisia is at 5 a.m.

Josh -  I have no clue what any of this means. Like there are words and I know they mean things, but none of it means anything to my non-soccer brain. In fact, every time you would write about Sheffield Wednesday, I was confused. I thought it was like Taco Tuesday, Thirsty Thursday, or Sunday Funday. I was too embarrassed to ask about Sheffield Wednesday. 

The Moose - This is a dumb question.

John - Sheffield Wednesday is playing on a Saturday? This is enough to confuse Ted Lasso.  Sheffield Wednesday wins 2-1 and FIFA will absolutely delay the start so that France and Denmark's players can watch Sheffield Wednesday win it in stoppage time.

Sean - Wednesday will win (Go Owls!), but the World Cup will never delay the start of the match...unless a few Wednesdayites storm the field in Qatar causing a delay,

Mike - Wednesday win 3-1. The second part is a moot point because here is no TV or stream and with Twitter going down, we’ll only know who won by reading a paper newspaper the following morning which is how the good Lord wanted it.

Justin - Wednesday will win and FIFA will erroneously start the (very exciting) Denmark/France match instead of respecting the Massive FA Cup game.

Matt G. - Sheffield Wednesday might be the most English-sounding club name in soccer. Wow. How would they not win this very important match?

Nick - No

Nick then continued with all of this:

Other predictions/ questions 

Who will sport the best haircut?

Biggest upset: Ecuador defeats Netherlands 2-1,  France is knocked out before the QF.

Which country will sport the best and worst Jersey? (US for the worst)

Biggest controversy:  France will protest Qatar policies on migrant workers,  LBGTQ issues and womens rights.  Isn’t that what France is known for ?  Revolutions?

Other controversies:  Switzerland vs Serbia will end with at least 4 red cards, 2 red cards  which will come via VAR.

Qatar will advance out of the group phase.  No home team has not advanced out.

Asia will have a good World Cup with Japan, and S Korea advancing to the finals. (Sean's note: This makes no sense if he picked Brazil to win.)

Senegal will advance the furthest of all African teams. Yes,  I know Morocco and Tunisia are in Africa.

That's enough from my brother. I'll add one more prediction that South Korea will make a deep run in this tournament. I've started watching Squid Game, and no one is going to mess with that team!

Enjoy the games and feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below.

US team photo by Getty Images

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