It’s been a long wait, but the 2022 World Cup is finally within sight. Qualification is drawing towards a close and in the next few months we'll know the 32 teams who will compete for football’s biggest prize. This World Cup is the first held in winter and promises to be a thrilling spectacle. It gets underway on the 21st of November and concludes on the 18th of December.
The host, Qatar, is the first Arab nation to hold a World Cup and offers a great backdrop to the event. A peninsula country in the Arab Gulf, Qatar is home to mega-cities and futuristic skyscrapers. The host cities- Al Khor, Al-Wakrah, and Doha- are highly modern and possess state-of-the-art stadiums. The largest is the Lusail Iconic Stadium, with a capacity of 80,000. The Khalifa International and Al Bayt Stadiums are also hugely impressive.
A great goalkeeper can make the difference between winning and losing. Though not as glamorous as a prolific striker, they are still priceless. Unlike the Golden Glove in the English Premier League, for example, which is awarded to the goalkeeper with the highest number of clean sheets, the Golden Glove at the World Cup is more flexible. It's given by FIFA to the goalkeeper who has performed to the highest standard. This encompasses clean sheets, goals conceded and overall play.
Currently, qualification is far from complete. So far only 13 teams have secured their spot. Consequently, a lot can happen between now and November and it is difficult to say for sure who the final frontrunners will be. Nevertheless, the following players are among the current betting favourites.
The veteran Tottenham goalkeeper has been playing at a high level for many years. He starred when France won the World Cup four years ago, conceding only 5 goals. Protected by a steady, established defence, he will be hoping to go one step further this time around.
One of the world's leading goalkeepers, and a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, the archetypical sweeper-keeper possesses great shot-stopping and distribution skills. Alisson represents the current tournament favourites Brazil. He is a leading contender for the Golden Glove.
The youngest goalkeeper on this list, at 22, Donnarumma makes up for his lack of experience with tremendous composure, technical ability and maturity. In addition, Donnarumma has already tasted international silverware, winning the European Championships in 2020. However, Italy must come through a playoff against North Macedonia to qualify for Qatar.
The 35-year-old Leicester star holds an impressive resume, including Premier League and FA Cup winners medals. Though Denmark crashed out of the 2018 World Cup in the Round Of 16, they made it to the Semi-Finals of the 2020 European Championships. Schmeichel is a great leader and communicator who is difficult to beat.
At a club level, Pickford does not necessarily possess the acumen to match up with other contenders. Internationally though he's established himself as the undisputed starter in a strong England team. Pickford was excellent in England's 2018 campaign and will look to continue where he left off.
The current Golden Glove holder is Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois, who's a big contender hoping to retain his crown. Courtois was the first Belgian to win the award since Jean-Marie Pfaff in 1986. Germany has won the award the most times- with 3 winners in 1972, 2002 and 2014. Overall, there are 21 previous winners, including legends such as England's Gordon Banks, Italy's Dino Zoff, and Spain's Iker Casillas.
With countless superstars on show, it’s impossible to pick a winner at this stage. Therefore, the odds will shift in the coming weeks and months. This article offers a broad overview. This will be updated regularly as fresh news comes to light.
The countdown to the 2022 World Cup is well and truly underway.