Choosing a world champion is often a battle between who you think will win and who you want to win, and this year will be no different. While Brazil and France have arguably the strongest squads of the tournament, home football fans will be cheering for Argentina’s Lionel Messi or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo to win their last World Cup.
We asked our star-studded soccer analysts here at FOX Sports to make their picks for the World Cup Finals, as well as a Dark Horse team for you to see making a deep run. Here’s what they said.
Who is your dark contender for winning the world championship?
Doug McIntyre: The last dark horse to win a world championship was West Germany in 1954. That doesn’t happen. After all, in the 92-year history of the competition, only eight teams have hoisted this beautiful golden trophy. That’s why I’m taking Germany as my dark horse this year.
Choosing a four-time champion might seem like cheating, but no one seems expecting The Team to add the No. 5 title on December 18th. FOXBet.com gives you the 6th best odds in the field of 32 nations at +1000. I would take that all day. Judging from their current form, the Germans certainly appear to have a better chance than some of the teams before them, not least the perennially overrated England and injury-plagued holders France.
Martin Rogers: Denmark has the cohesion and ingenuity to go deep, as we saw at Euro. Really win? That’s a stretch. As usual, expect the winner to come from one of the top 4 favorites.
Landon Donovan: England. No one ever expects them to succeed, but they have enough quality to win anything.
Group B Preview: USMNT, Iran, England and Wales
Alexi Lalas and David Mosse crack Group B of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Carli Lloyd: Denmark. After a successful EURO 2020 and Christian Eriksen recovering from his collapse and cardiac arrest, they are hungry to win and inspire. Kasper Hjulmand has the tactical flexibility in his squad. Eriksen is in great form and will cherish every moment on the field knowing how fragile life can be. This will instill heart and confidence in the team.
Ali Wagner: Switzerland. I think if you look at their recent Nations League results and look at their possible path. If they advance second in their group, I think they move to a relatively easy side of the bracket. I think that’s a manageable path for them. [Granit] Xhaka was in incredible form, you’ve had good experiences in this squad. I think this group has the potential to excite and go further than expected.
Stu Holden: Apart from the usual names, I say Uruguay. Darwin Nunez is one of the best attacking talents in the world and with Luis Suarez’s experience, they will cause teams great problems defensively. Federico Valverde plays some of the best footballers of his career and they are always solid defensively.
ChadJohnson: Senegal. You are hot right now and made it out of the Africa Cup of Nations. They have a bunch of veterans and they play well together.
Three things you need to know about Senegal
Alexi Lalas explains three things we need to know about Senegal.
Kelly Smith: Uruguay. They have young players in good form, with a midfield with Valverde and Bentancur and Nunez up front, while there is serious experience at the back. Uruguay are tough, organized and full of quality and they will want to send [Edinson] Cavani and Suarez out with a bang.
Moritz Ed: The Netherlands. Despite the talent they have in their squad – [Virgil] Van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo etc – I don’t consider them one of the favourites. They didn’t qualify in 2018 so they have something to prove this time, led by coach Louis Van Gaal who took them to third place in 2014.
Cobi Jones: Senegal. This is a semi-golden generation for the African champions, with top talent at every position and Sadio Mane leading the attack.
Eniola Aluko: Portugal. They have a very experienced squad with some leading young players like Rafael Leaõ who was a very exciting player for AC Milan. Cristiano [Ronaldo] I’m sure he will lead the way and has a lot to prove given his frustrations at Manchester United this season. Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Neves, Ruben Dias and Joao Felix are also top players.
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Warren Barton: Senegal is one of my dark horses to do well but I don’t know if they can win it so I’m looking at someone like Spain. They are not France, they are not Belgium; they are not Brazil, they are not Argentina. I think Luis Enrique can do it with this team and with these players. He’s done a good job, he’s a proven winner at club level and an excellent coach.
Who plays in the World Cup final and who wins it?
McIntyre: As much as I’d love to see Messi win a World Cup, Brazil has been my pick to win it all since the summer and I’m sticking with it. I think they will outlast the Albiceleste in an all-South American semi-final. On the other side of the table I’m with Germany, who can win any World Cup they participate in. The team was able to enjoy the unusual underdog role.
ROGERS: MeIf the big teams win their groups, the top half of the bracket becomes an absolute gauntlet. The lower half becomes more open. Let’s get started with a delicious match between Spain and Portugal to decide everything.
Donovan: France vs. Brazil and Brazil win.
Lloyd: Argentina will lift the trophy.
Wagner: I think I’ll go to Brazil and Germany with Germany finishing second.
Held: Argentina vs. France, and Argentina wins the World Cup.
Johnson: I think it will be France and Argentina with Argentina winning everything. I don’t think you can ever rule out Messi and this squad.
Three things you need to know about Argentina
Alexi Lalas explains three things you need to know about Argentina.
Blacksmith: Final between England and Brazil in which Brazil wins. I think Brazil have the most talented squad with exciting attacking players. They’re so exciting to watch and I think they’re going to do it right at this World Cup.
Ed: Messi and Argentina lift the trophy after beating a strong French side in the final!
Aluko: Argentina vs England. I would love England to win but England have key defensive injuries at Reece James and Ben Chilwell with limited forwards up front to support Harry Kane. I only see Argentina win if this is the final but I hope I’m wrong.
Barton: My favorites are Brazil to go ahead and win it but I think Belgium can win it. Kevin de Bruyne, the way he’s playing, they can do it.
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