Brazil’s Neymar (front) and Chile’s Paulo Diaz vie for the ball during their South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
FIFA World Cup 2022 is one of the most eagerly anticipated ones in memory — as much for off-the-field reasons as those on it — is just around the corner in Qatar and excitement is building after the qualification period was wrapped.
This is also the first world cup being held in the Middle East with 32 teams, 64 matches, 29 days. The tournament starts on November 20 and the final is set for December 18.
Weeks before FIFA World Cup 2022 begins, here’s a breakdown of the top five teams and players.
Brazil (No. 1 in FIFA ranking)
Neymar, Vinícius Júnior and the rest of the flair-filled Selecao are peaking at the right time. Is a first World Cup title since 2002 on the horizon?
Belgium (No. 2)
The “Golden Generation” is gradually breaking up but there’s still Kevin De Bruyne leading the Belgian charge.
Argentina (No. 3)
No World Cup title since the days of the great Diego Maradona. This will be the first World Cup since his death in November 2020 and Argentina is improving, with Messi still at its core.
France (No. 4)
The defending champions. Still the country with the most depth to its squad, despite a growing injury list. Now with Mbappé AND Karim Benzema leading the attack. No team has retained its World Cup title since
England (No. 5)
The team has hit a bad patch of form — winless in six games — but has a strong track record in recent major tournaments. England was a semifinalist at the World Cup in 2018 and a finalist at the European Championship in 2021.
FIFA World Cup 2022: The top PLAYERS
Lionel Messi, Argentina
The seven-time world player of the year might have been saving his 35-year-old legs for one last push at a World Cup winner’s medal that, to many, would solidify him as soccer’s greatest player.Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
He has won the European Championship but the leading scorer in men’s international soccer hasn’t played in a World Cup final, let alone won one. He’s 37 now — make the most of him while you can.Kylian Mbappé, France
The star of the last World Cup at the age of 19 and he is only getting better. The speedy striker could match Brazil great Pelé in being a champion at his first two World Cups.Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium
Widely regarded as the world’s best midfielder, his driving runs are among the best sights in soccer. Belgium just has to hope he arrives healthy.Neymar, Brazil
Often overshadowed by Mbappé and Messi at Paris Saint-Germain, still the main man for Brazil. Watch out for tricks and flicks, and some histrionics, too.