2022 Fifa World Cup: pre-tournament pundit predictions

Argentina will take on holders France in the 2022 Fifa World Cup final. Both teams have won the World Cup twice before and will be aiming to make it a hat-trick.  

They were among the pre-tournament favourites – but which football pundits picked them to lift the trophy at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday? Here we take a look at the pundit predictions before the World Cup started in Qatar.  

South Americans to end Europe’s reign? 

It’s not just Eurosport’s Pete Sharland who believes that this World Cup is “more open than ever”. Sports Illustrated also thinks there’s “no consensus champion”. However, there is “an agreement about one thing”: Europe’s reign over the World Cup will end in Qatar. Since Brazil’s fifth World Cup win in 2002, it has become the “Uefa invitational” with Italy (2006), Spain (2010), Germany (2014) and France (2018) winning the tournament. “If our picks are to come to fruition”, it will be “one of two South American sides lifting the trophy”. According to Sports Illustrated’s predictions, three experts have picked Brazil for glory, while two have chosen Argentina.

Jürgen Klinsmann, a World Cup winner with West Germany in 1990, said Brazil are his “personal favourite” to lift the trophy. The former striker, who scored 11 goals in 17 World Cup games, has backed Neymar and Co, having watched them over the last couple of years and during the qualifying campaign. “I was so impressed how they just rolled through the qualifiers, especially as South America is probably the toughest of all continents to qualify from,” he told Fifa+. “The way they did it was very impressive.”

In his second attempt at “predicting how things will shake up in Qatar”, CBS Sport’s James Benge tipped Argentina and Lionel Messi to get their “revenge” for 2014 by beating Germany in the final. Eight years ago the Germans won the cup with a 1-0 victory after extra-time, but this year Benge believes the Argentines will triumph 2-1 on 18 December with Messi writing himself into the “history books”. Benge’s first predictions attempt earlier this year had Brazil “conquering all” by beating England 2-0 in the final.

Gaming and data modeling

According to Opta data and Stats Perform’s artificial intelligence World Cup prediction model, Brazil have emerged as the team with the highest probability of winning the World Cup. The five-time winners have a “16% chance of lifting the trophy”, said Opta’s Jamie Kemp on the BBC. And as the overall favourites for the tournament, they are “also the team with the highest probability of reaching the final (25%)”. Argentina have the second-highest probability of winning this year’s World Cup (13%), followed by France (12%), Spain (9%) and England (9%).

In its final year of publishing the popular football video game with Fifa’s branding, EA Sports has revealed its prediction for the winner of the 2022 World Cup. After correctly predicting the last three winners in 2010, 2014 and 2018, EA Sports has used HyperMotion2 Technology and the dedicated ratings in Fifa World Cup Kick-Off and Tournament modes to simulate all 64 matches and see who will come out on top in Qatar. According to a simulation of the 2022 final, Argentina will beat Brazil in “a tense game that was decided by a single goal”. And the goalscorer for the Albiceleste as they win their first World Cup since 1986? Who else… Lionel Messi. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is also predicted to score eight goals in seven games, picking up the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in the process. It will be “a captain’s display” as the tournament’s best player rounds off a memorable Fifa World Cup. 

Joachim Klement, a London-based stockbroker at Liberum Capital Ltd, developed a “proprietary econometric model” to predict the winners of the World Cups in 2014 and 2018. With a 100% success rate so far, who does he think will win in 2022? According to Klemen’s calculations the winners will be Argentina, who will beat England in the final. “Messi will win something that [Cristiano] Ronaldo never has and Argentina will celebrate its first World Cup win in 36 years,” he said.

France won the World Cup in 2018

Getty Images

What the TV pundits say… 

Pundits from ITV, one of the UK broadcasters for live World Cup TV coverage, have revealed their predictions for Qatar 2022. After reaching the semi-finals in 2018 and finishing as runners-up in the Euros, Gary Neville believes England “are going to go one more”. Ian Wright is less confident about England, The Mirror reported. With their “fantastic squad” and coming off the back of winning the Copa America last year, Wright is backing Argentina. Roy Keane thinks it’s “going to be hard” to stop Brazil from winning a sixth World Cup. “Brazil have such great strength in depth at the moment and some real quality players across the squad.”

BBC Sport presenters and pundits have predicted what will happen over the next four weeks. Brazil are the majority favourites with nine pundits – Micah Richards, Alex Scott, Ashley Williams, Gabby Logan, Jürgen Klinsmann, Rio Ferdinand, Karen Bardsley, Matthew Upson, and Rob Green – tipping the Seleção for glory. Argentina get three votes, from Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas and Danny Murphy, while Chris Sutton and Danny Gabbidon have picked France. Fara Williams is backing England.

Another win for France or Spain? 

After lifting the trophy in Russia in 2018, Didier Deschamps’s France will be among the frontrunners again in 2022, said Graham Ruthven on The Sporting News. However, “the curse of the defending champions” could hit the French in the last 16, should they meet Argentina. Ruthven has tipped Spain to beat England in the final. There was a sense at the Euros that Spain were “close to hoisting a trophy”, and they “look poised to triumph in Qatar”. Spain won their only World Cup in 2010.

“According to our predictive tournament model”, France have consistently been the most likely team to win the World Cup, said Kevin Chroust on The Analyst. Les Bleus “remain our favourites” to land the biggest prize in football.

What about the dark horses? 

Lots has been said about the favourites to win the World Cup, but what about the potential surprise teams of the tournament? “Yes, it is dark horses o’clock,” said Pete Sharland on Eurosport. “Everyone loves a dark horse, often a feel-good team that strikes gold with a player(s), system or even just pure vibes.” So, who does Sharland pick out at his dark horses for Qatar 2022? Serbia, who didn’t lose a game in qualifying, could produce a “Croatia-type jump”, while Senegal “might become a real handful”, even with Sadio Mane missing the opening games through injury. With such an “interesting” and “frankly unusual” collection of players, Uruguay’s talent is “undeniable”. If head coach Diego Alonso can “figure out how to use all of them”, everyone else “could be in a whole lot of trouble”.



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