WORLD CUP – A SNEEK PEEK AT EUROPE’S CANDIDATES

The first ever Winter World Cup kicks off November/December 2022 where the world would once again stand still to witness yet another footballing spectacle. Europe’s representatives at the World Cup has always been more than any continent with this year’s edition being no different, 55 European teams took part in the qualifying process with 13 teams ready to fight for the most prestigious title in world football. Today we take a look at these teams and their chances at attaining invincibility.

GERMANY (DIE MANNSCHAFT)

The German Machines finished top of their qualifying group enroute Qatar 2022 and would be looking to do better than their abysmal showings in 2018 where they crashed out at the group stages. With new and exciting talents coming through the ranks and a new gaffer at the wheel, it remains to see how much fire power the 4 time World Cup winners would bring into the fray in what marks their 20th appearance at the World Cup.

Coach – HANSI FLICK

Captain – MANUEL NEUER (BAYERN MUNICH)

Star Player – THOMAS MULLER (BAYERN MUNICH

Player(s) To Watch Out For – JAMAL MUSIALA (BAYERN MUNICH), KARIM ADEYEMI (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Likely Finish – SEMI FINALS

CROATIA (THE FIERY BOYS)

The 2018 World Cup runner-ups are still full of vigor, vitality and a whole helm of experience embedded in the squad with their qualification to the World Cup 2022 a formality after topping their qualifiers group. They would seek to attempt yet another superb run that saw them endeared to many football faithfuls prior to the final defeat to France in 2018. They head into their 6th World Cup tournament hoping to rekindle the performances of 2018.

Coach – ZLATKO DALIC

Captain – LUKA MODRIC (REAL MADRID)

Star Player – LUKA MODRIC (REAL MADRID)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – IVAN PERISIC (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR), MATEO KOVACIC (CHELSEA)

Likely Finish – QUARTER FINALS

DENMARK (THE DANISH DYNAMITES)

Denmark are arguably the most exciting team in the World Cup 2022 with a qualification status that saw them maintain a 100% record and unbeaten run in the prep up for the World Cup. They head into their 6th World Cup tournament looking to do better than their best ever finish of a Quarter Final Berth in 1998 and with the new look team bring adventurous, we may just be in for much excitement from the Dane side.

Coach – KASPER HJULMAND

Captain – SIMON KJAER ( AC MILAN)

Star Player – CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – ANDREA OLSEN (CLUB BRUGGE), JOACHIM MAEHLE (ATALANTA), MIKKEL DAMSGAARD (SAMPDORIA)

Likely Finish – QUARTER FINALS

ENGLAND (THE THREE LIONS)

The English National Team put behind the Final Euro 2020 heartbreak to ensure they qualified as table toppers enroute the 2022 World Cup. The Three Lions are still without a major tournament win since their heroic 1966 World Cup Title win in a run that stretches 56 years. There’s hope for the future as a perfect replication of their Euro 2020 exploits could see them reign supreme as they look to do better than their fourth placed finish at the last World Cup.

Coach – GARETH SOUTHGATE

Captain – HARRY KANE (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR)

Star Player – HARRY KANE (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – RAHEEM STERLING (CHELSEA), PHIL FODEN (MANCHESTER CITY), MASON MOUNT (CHELSEA)

Likely Finish – SEMI FINALS

FRANCE (LES BLUES)

Defending Champions France pose arguably the best talent in Europe right now with the team heading into the World Cup with huge expectations hung on their shoulders. They would however seek to break the curse that has seemingly struck the previous winners of the World Cup who crash out at the group stages with the likes of Italy, Spain and most recently Germany in 2018 following that unwanted trend. The French team have the squad and capability to make it two in a row in what would be an uphill task for any team but with the brilliance they possess in squad quality and depth, many would fancy their chances of making it two in two as they embark on their 16th World Cup appearance and look to seek their third crown.

Coach – DIDIER DESCHAMPS

Captain – HUGO LLORIS (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR)

Star Player – KYLIAN MBAPPE (PARIS SAINT GERMAIN)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – CHRISTOPHER NKUNKU (RB LEIPZIG), N’GOLO KANTE (CHELSEA), PAUL POGBA (JUVENTUS), KARIM BENZEMA (REAL MADRID)

BELGIUM (THE RED DEVILS)

The Belgian team possess an incredible array of talent in all spheres are they are the team to watch out for given their splendid showing at the 2018 World Cup that saw them finish third at the finals. Belgium head into their 14th World Cup with high hopes as they seek their first ever triumph in what would be a stellar performance for Belgium’s Golden Generation.

Coach – ROBERTO MARTINEZ

Captain – EDEN HAZARD (REAL MADRID)

Star Player – KEVIN DE BRUYNE (MANCHESTER CITY)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – THIBAUT COURTOIS (REAL MADRID), ROMELU LUKAKU (INTER MILAN), YANNICK CARRASCO (ATLETICO MADRID)

Likely Finish – SEMI FINALS

NETHERLANDS (ORANJE)

The Flying Dutchmen make a comeback to the World Cup stage after missing out of the 2018 Russia World Cup despite having impressive 2010 and 2014 campaigns where they finished in second and third places respectively. Having finished second three times in the past (1974,1978,2010), it remains to be seen if they can break the jinx and bring home the highly coveted price. They head into their 11th World Cup with the hopes of rekindling old performances and one better by finally winning gold.

Coach – LOUIS VAN GAAL

Captain – VIRGIL VAN DIJK (LIVERPOOL)

Star Player – MEMPHIS DEPAY (BARCELONA)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – CODY GAKPO (PSV), FRENKIE DE JONG (BARCELONA), DENZEL DUMFRIES (INTER MILAN)

Likely Finish – QUARTER FINALS

POLAND (THE WHITE-REDS)

The Polish National Team haven’t had the best of luck in recent times with the team mostly failing to make it past the group stages with the 2018 World Cup a good example after they finished 4th in a group that had Colombia, Japan and Senegal. They head into their 9th World Cup appearance looking to emulate the exploits of the Polish squads of 1974 and 1982 that both finished third on the World’s biggest stage.

Coach – CZESLAW MICHNIEWICZ

Captain – ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (BARCELONA)

Star Player – ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (BARCELONA)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – PIOTR ZIELENSKI (NAPOLI), MATHEUZ KLICH (LEEDS UNITED), MATTY CASH (ASTON VILLA)

PORTUGAL ( A SELEÇÃO)

Portugal have been in the fray for the World Cup but thus far have lacked the cutting edge to define thier stand on the biggest stage in the World. Losing out in the Round of 16 to Uruguay in the last World Cup coupled with other heart breaks has seen winning the World Cup a distant dream for the side. Having triumphed in Euro 2016 and Nations League in 2019, it shows that there’s indeed quality in the side and with the 2022 World Cup marking thier 9th appearance at the showbiz, it remains to see if they can break their 1966 Bronze medal haul in the World Cup.

Coach – FERNANDO SANTOS

Captain – CRISTIANO RONALDO (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Star Player – CRISTIANO RONALDO (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – BRUNO FERNANDES (MANCHESTER UNITED), RAFEAL LEAO (AC MILAN), BERNARD SILVA (MANCHESTER CITY), DIOGO JOTA (LIVERPOOL)

Likely Finish – QUARTER FINALS

SERBIA (THE EAGLES)

Serbia shocked the footballing world when they qualified first ahead of Portugal in their World Cup qualifying group in what stamped thier readiness for November’s showbiz in Qatar. They head into their 12th World Cup Finals in a high flying mode as they seek to go past previous fourth placed finishes in 1930 and 1962 with The Eagles fully aware of the complex intricacies the World Cup 2022 would possess.

Coach – DRAGAN STOJKOVIC

Captain – DUSAN TADIC (AFC AJAX)

Star Player – ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC (FULHAM)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – FILIP KOSTIC (EINTRACHT FRANKFURT), DUSAN VLAHOVIC (JUVENTUS), SERGEJ MILINKOVIC-SAVIC (SS LAZIO)

Likely Finish – ROUND OF 16

SPAIN (LA FURIA ROJA/THE RED FURY)

The Spanish team has undoubtedly had the best part of the 21st century with their first every World Cup win in 2010 the highlight of it all coupled with back to back Euro trophies and notable finishes in the Euro 2020 and the last edition of the Nations League. This brings about a spark of excitement for the team who could use the 2022 World Cup as a perfect stance to improve themselves even more.

Coach – LUIS ENRIQUE

Captain – SERGIO BUSQUETS (BARCELONA)

Star Player – JORDI ALBA (BARCELONA)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – PEDRI (BARCELONA), GAVI (BARCELONA), MIKEL OYARZABAL (REAL SOCIEDAD), AYMERIC LAPORTE (MANCHESTER CITY)

Likely Finish – QUARTER FINALS

SWITZERLAND (SCHWEIZER NATI/THE NATS)

Switzerland are a familiar name in the World Cup scene with attaining qualification a mere formality but reaching the Knockouts have seemed a tough nut to crack for the Swiss team, They head into Qatar with rejuvenation as they aim to go past thier best ever finish in a World Cup event with the team having never gotten past the Quarter Finals stage since 1954 after reaching that stage in three previous occasions in 1934, 1938, 1954.

Coach – MURAT YAKIN

Captain – GRANIT XHAKA (ARSENAL)

Star Player – YANN SOMMER (BORUSSIA MOCHENGLADBACH)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – BREEL EMBOLO (BORUSSIA MOCHENGLADBACH), HARIS SEFEROVIC (BENFICA), REMO FREULER (ATALANTA BC), RICARDO RODRIGUEZ (TORINO)

Likely Finish – Group Stages

WALES (THE DRAGONS)

Wales has qualified for the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1958 and 2022. In 1958, they reached the quarter-finals before losing to eventual champions Brazil. They then went 58 years before reaching their second major tournament in 2016 where they also lost to eventual winners Portugal in the semi finals and only make their second World Cup berth in what would go down in the country’s history.

Coach – ROB PAGE

Captain – GARETH BALE (LOS ANGELES FC)

Star Player – GARETH BALE (LOS ANGELES FC)

Player(s) To Watch Out For – DAVID BROOKS (BOURNEMOUTH), DANIEL JAMES (LEEDS UNITED), ETHAN AMPADU (CHELSEA), WAYNE HENNESSY (BURNLEY)

Likely Finish – QUARTER FINALS

🖋 – RIDDLER ZLATAN-HARDIZ 👽

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