The FIFA World Cup is the most popular sporting event in the world. More than three billion people tune in to watch it every four years. This international football tournament has significantly impacted global culture and society.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the 22nd edition of the tournament, hosted by Qatar, a Middle Eastern country with a population of 2 million people. Qatar was awarded it after an agreement with FIFA in 2010, which all 203 member associations unanimously approved at the time.
Qatar has built or renovated eight (down from twelve) state-of-the-art stadia for the tournament. The final will take place in the Lusail Iconic stadium, which has a capacity for 80,000 spectators. The tournament starts on the 21st of November.
The World Cup is steeped in history. From its inception in 1930 there have been eight different winners. Brazil top the chart with five wins, followed by Germany and Italy with four. Argentina, France and Uruguay have won it twice each, with England and Spain on a solitary win.
The competition consist of eight groups of four teams. They will all play each other. The two teams emerging on top will move forward to the Round of 16. The top team in group A will play the runner-up in Group B and so on down the line.In theory the top eight favourites will not meet each other in the round of 16. This will not happen until the quarter-finals. The round of eighteen starts on the 3rd of December. The quarter-finals begin on the 9th of December, the semi finals on the 13th and 14th with the final on the 18th.
The most important players on any team are the ones that score the goals. There are, of course, many other key players on every team, but without goals you can't win. The players to watch out for at this year's World Cup are Lionel Messi, Neymar, Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo (presuming Portugal qualify). These guys are goal-scoring machines and if they and their team are on form, it could decide the tournament.
Messi and Argentina are always very dangerous. Neymar and his Brazilian team have a tendency to blow hot and cold, but when on form can beat anyone. England's captain Harry Kane bears a lot of responsibility for his country's success. His form is getting better after a spell in the doldrums and everyone expects him to be a big player in this year's World Cup. Ronaldo is already a legend, but he will want to add to his legacy, and help Portugal, in what might be his final World Cup.
The World Cup has had some big moments from the past in previous tournaments. The 1986 quarter-final between England and Argentina will be remembered because of one player - Diego Maradona. He scored two of the most memorable World Cup goals ever ,for two totally different reasons. When challenging for a ball with England's goalkeeper Peter Shilton he punched the goal into the net. This became known as the "Hand of God" goal. He also scored the best solo goal ever scored in a World Cup when he beat half the English team to put the ball past Shilton again. Gary Linekar scored a consolation goal in the dying minutes and Argentina ran out winners 2-1. The 2014 final between Germany and Argentina was another classic. Mario Gotze scored a great extra-time goal to seal it for Germany.
When the group stages are finished we will be left with sixteen teams playing eight games in the knockout round of 16. If the predictions have gone the way they should have, and there are no major upsets, the top eight seeds should be playing in eight separate games.
The current odds for the winners of the world cup are as follows. Brazil and France are joint favourites at 6/1. England and Spain are at 7 and 8/1 respectively. Germany and Spain are at 10/1 with betting outsider Belgium at 12/1 and The Netherlands at 16/1.
The round of 16 will sort out the men from the boys and betting on this round can give good odds if you are willing to take a risk. There have been a multitude of upsets at this stage of the tournament. The group stages can hide real form as some countries haven't yet hit their stride. Betting on the underdog in the round of 16 could be a wise and profitable wager.