The 2022 World Cup is set to take place outside of a European summer for the first time this year and will run from November 21st to December 18th in Qatar with domestic football in competing countries, including the Premier League, being put on hold throughout the tournament.
With just nine months until the World Cup kicks off, we’ve put together a short preview of the competition including the best bookies for World Cup betting, which countries are confirmed to feature and which are still battling it out for a place.
When Is The Draw For The 2022 World Cup?
The draw is set to take place at around 4pm GMT on Friday, April 1 in Qatar.
32 teams will be included in the draw with each being allocated into one of eight groups featuring four teams.
Other than the host nation Qatar, who will be automatically placed in pot one of Group A, the other 31 teams will be divided into four pots. The teams with the highest FIFA rankings, who are currently Belgium, Brazil, France, Argentina and England, will be placed into pot one and so on.
Although 32 teams are included in the draw, only 29 will be guaranteed a spot when the draw is made on 1st April. The other three teams will be decided via the play-offs which take place after the draw.
Which Teams Have Qualified?
The 32 places in the competition feature teams from the following:
Europe: 13 teams
Africa: 5 teams
South America: 4 teams
Asia: 4 teams
CONCACAF: 3 teams
Winners of inter-confederation play-offs: 2 teams
Teams who have already qualified include: Qatar, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Serbia, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Croatia, Switzerland, England, Argentina, Iran and South Korea.
There are playoffs taking place around the world this week to determine which teams will fill the remaining sport before the draw takes place.
The European playoffs take place on the 24th & 29th of March.
How Do The World Cup European Playoffs Work?
Ten European countries have directly qualified for the 2022 World Cup by finishing top of their groups.
Those ten countries are Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.
There are also three additional places up for grabs which will be filled by European teams competing in the playoffs.
The semi-finals of the playoffs are set to take place this Thursday with the exception of Scotland vs Ukraine which has been postponed until June.
Poland were scheduled to face Russia in the semi-finals but with FIFA imposing a ban on Russian football teams, Poland have been given an automatic route to the final where they will meet either Sweden or Cazech Republic.
The three remaining places will be filled by the winners of the following playoff final fixtures:
- Wales or Austria vs Scotland or Ukraine
- Poland vs Sweden or Czech Republic
- Portugal or Turkey vs Italy or North Macedonia
This means that either, or both of, 2016 UEFA European Championship winners, Portugal, or the four-time World Cup winners, Italy, will miss out on this year’s competition.
England, Wales & Scotland
Scotland will have to wait until at least June to find out if they’ll be featuring in their first World Cup since 1998 but Wales’ fate will be determined this or next week. However, only one of the two teams can qualify for the World Cup this winter as the two would meet in the final of the playoffs should they both win their semi-final matches.
Wales are just two victories away from qualifying for their first World Cup for over 60 years. They’ve entered every World Cup since 1950 but have only managed to qualify for the finals once in 1958 where they were eliminated in the quarter finals by the eventual winners, Brazil.
Wales qualified for the playoffs by finishing second in Group E behind Belgium, having picked up 15 points from a possible 24 and suffering defeat just once. They’ll meet Austria in their semi-final clash on Thursday and will be quietly confident of progressing.
Despite finishing fourth in their World Cup qualifying group behind the likes of Denmark, Scotland and Israel, Austria qualified for the playoffs via their UEFA Nations League finishing position.
This could be a close game which is reflected in the current Match Winner odds for the two sides with Wales priced at 2/1 and Austria 17/10 with bookmaker Bet365. Wales are 10 places higher in the official FIFA rankings and also head into this match in the better form of the two. That coupled with the fact they are playing at home, where Wales are unbeaten in their last 16 fixtures, means that there could be value in backing the Cymru on Thursday evening.
England qualified for this year’s World Cup by dominating their group which featured Poland, Albania, Hungary, Andorra and San Marino. They were always expected to finish top of Group I but their performances will provide some confidence to those thinking of backing them in the tournament this winter.
Southgate’s men scored 39 goals in their 10 group games whilst only conceding 3. Many believe they are a better side now than they were when they reached the finals of the Euros last summer and if true, they could be in with a chance of progressing to the latter stages of the competition.
Bookies are offering the following World Cup Winners odds:
- Brazil: 6/1
- France: 7/1
- Spain: 9/1
- Germany: 10/1
- England: 10/1
- Argentina: 11/1
- Belgium: 14/1
- Netherlands: 17/1
- Italy: 19/1
It’s no surprise to see Brazil and France up there as favourites as both squads have a wealth of talent and should make it through to the knockout stages.
Spain reached the semi finals of Euro 2020 but seemed to lack that cutting edge at times. However, they have some promising youngsters in their squad which have the potential to flourish during the tournament.
Germany are not the dominant force that they once were in football and had somewhat of an underwhelming Euros which resulted in them being knocked out of the competition in the Round of 16 following a 2-0 defeat to England. To see them at the same price as Southgate’s side is a surprise and I know who I’d be backing to do better from the two.
Southgate will name his World Cup squad in the Autumn and will be looking to test several players out in games leading up to that date. However, I wouldn’t expect too many changes to the starting XI from what we saw in the summer which may be considered a good thing considering this squad have been extremely solid in recent years.
10/1 is more than a fair price on England to win their first World Cup since 1966 and this could be the best chance they’ve had of doing so for several years.