The Middle Eastern country Qatar will hold the World Cup in 2022. It's the Arab world's first time to host the event. FIFA moved the tournament to the end of November to avoid the summer heat. It will be the last time the World Cup has thirty-six teams competing. In 2026, forty-eight teams will be partaking.
Qatar has undertaken the mammoth task of building or improving eight stadiums in preparation for the World Cup. They reduced this number from twelve, due to spiralling costs. Of the eight stadiums, the Lusail Iconic Stadium is the biggest with a capacity of 80,000 and is the venue where the final will be played. The second-largest is the Al Bayt stadium with a capacity of 60,000. The remaining six stadiums have a capacity of at least 40,000 supporters.
The World Cup has produced some great games over the years including its fair share of thrilling quarter-finals. How can we forget Brazil versus Holland in 1994? Brazil went ahead with two goals from Romario and Baleto, only for Holland to make it 2-2 from Bergkamp and Winther. A sublime free-kick from Branco eventually won the game for Brazil.
We all remember the 1986 quarter-final between Argentina and England for the actions of one man; Diego Maradona. The diminutive Argentinian scored two of the most memorable goals in World Cup history, for two completely different reasons. Maradona handled the ball when going up to challenge English goalkeeper Peter Shilton. It went over Shilton into the goal and was allowed. Maradona's second goal is arguably the best solo goal ever scored at a World Cup when he ran half the pitch to score. Gary Linekar scored a consolation goal for England and the game ended with Argentina winning 2-1.
The Qatar world cup will consist of thirty-two teams. At the time of writing this article, thirteen teams have qualified. We will update all the information as we get closer to the tournament. The final qualifying games will be in April 2022. That draw will confirm thirty teams. That leaves only the intercontinental play-offs. Confirmation of those qualifying teams will come later.
The group stages kick off on the 21st of November. This stage will have eight groups, each consisting of four teams. The two teams that come out on top in each group will move forward to the round of 16, which begins on the 3rd of December. The winners of these knock out games will progress to the quarter-final stages beginning on the 9th of December. The semi-finals will be on the 13th and 14th, with the final on the 18th.
The favourites at the moment are France and Brazil with odds of about 6 / 1. England and Spain at 7 / 1, Germany and Belgium at 9 / 1 and 11/ 1 respectively, follow closely behind. All these teams are seeded and expected to win their groups. They will then play the second-placed team from another group in the Round of 16.
Favourites have failed to get out of their group in the past. Group stage betting can be a bit of a lottery because there are four teams involved instead of two, increasing the risk. Put money on the favourite getting out of the group, regardless of whether they finish in first or second place. That is your best bet.
The Round of Sixteen and the quarter finals are knock out games and are easier to bet on. The bookmakers determine odds on the form a particular country has shown in the group stages. However, some countries will start slowly, and gradually get better. Italy are notorious for this. Betting on an underperforming country at the quarter-finals stage might be a wise choice if they suddenly find form and demolish the opposition.
The semi-finals and final can be very close affairs. Most of the time the favourite country will have odds like 4/5 and the underdog coming in at anything from 5/4 to 2/1. There is not much profit in these kinds of bets unless you are waging big money. Bet on the quarter finals if you want a chance of winning some money. Either way, we're all looking forward to a great tournament. On the 18th of December, one country will be the champions of the world. Which one will it be?