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What is to be Expected at the World Cup in Qatar

Photo Credit Sports Illustrated

What is to be expected at the World Cup in Qatar with less than a week to the biggest stage in football in one of the most anticipated tournaments in recent years. This year’s World Cup will look different than others, as it is the first one taken place in the middle east and the first to happen during the winter.

Here is what to expect to happen along with a preview of the tournament:

Top Scorer? Kylian Mbappe

After a controversial summer, Mbappe has had an unbelievable season with PSG. He has been able to play at his highest level despite all the negative attention after deciding to stay at PSG after verbally agreeing to sign with Real Madrid. Mbappe has 19 goals in all competitions this season and has kept himself in healthy form so far. The future Ballon d’Or is no surprise to World Cup glory after helping bring France their first World Cup since 1998 at the age of 19. He scored four goals, two shy of the top scorer in the tournament that year.

Mbappe is hungry to win another World Cup and help make France the first team to win the World Cup twice in a row. However, the World Cup curse can haunt him as every year since 2010 the previous World Cup winner had failed to make it out of the group stage. Regardless, he has the ability and the demeanor to make this an even better individual tournament than in 2018 with his experience with the national team at just the age of 23.

 

Surprise Team? Switzerland

Everyone has mentioned Denmark, Wales or even Uruguay will be the dark horse in Qatar. However, a team that has really been flying under the radar is Switzerland. They recently beat Spain 2-1 in the Nations League in September and have been on a good run of matches. The small national had also beat Portugal 1-0 after losing 4-0 in the Nations League group in June. Switzerland will be led by the Monaco star Breel Embolo, who has seven goals and two assists in Ligue One.

National team legend Xherdan Shaqiri will come back for his fourth World Cup with Switzerland. Captian Granit Xhaka will lead the team, who has four goals and three assists in all competitions while keeping Arsenal in first place heading into the winter break. Switzerland caused an upset last year after eliminating France in the Round of 16 of the 2020 Euros. They also had a chance to beat Spain in the quarterfinals, however lost in penalties. Switzerland being the surprising team is expected at the World Cup with their current form squad depth and history of causing an upset in tournaments.

 

Tournament’s Best Player? Neymar Jr

When Neymar first hopped on to the scene after his superstar signing to Barcelona in 2013, all eyes were on him to be the next Messi or Ronaldo. It has not gone completely the way he expected as injuries and off-the-field behavior has plagued the Brazilian. However, he has god-given skills that makes him one of the most unique and dangerous players in the world with the potential to lead any team to glory. This season, Neymar has not suffered major injuries and has totaled 13 goals, 11 assists, and 53 chances created in all competitions.

He is ready to have the tournament of his life and bring Brazil their record-breaking sixth World Cup. Brazil is also accompanied by several world-class players to back up Neymar with Vini Jr, Rodrygo, Raphinha, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus, and Antony in the attack. Neymar winning the tournament of the year award is expected at the World Cup if he can keep his current form throughout the month in Qatar.

 

Unlikely Hero? Kevin De Bruyne

Belgium’s form in the World Cup will revolve around De Bruyne. He’s one of the most underrated players in the world as he will be playing in his third World Cup. With Manchester City, he has scored three goals with 12 assists and has recorded 136 crosses in all competitions. He is averaging about seven crosses a match, an unbelievable stat for the midfielder.

De Bruyne is the master behind the creativity of both Manchester City and Belgium. He is still waiting to win a trophy with the national team as the closest he has gotten was third place during the World Cup in 2018. This is potentially the last World Cup he can produce success under the golden age of Belgium with  Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens.

 

Will There be Potential Controversy Regarding Protests and Laws of Qatar at the World Cup?

The leadup to the Qatar World Cup has been nothing but controversy with several believing that it was a mistake for the tournament to be held in the middle eastern country. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter admits it was a mistake awarding Qatar the World Cup during his time in office that revolved around accepting bribes and fraud. According to reports, over 6,500 migrant workers died while constructing the World Cup stadiums with reports of low wages and poor treatment of the workers.

This has sparked protests all around football, including several Bundesliga team fans protesting the World Cup. Also, Qatar has a strict rule about presenting the LGBTQ flag or any form of homosexuality. This has caused several football fans to be afraid to travel to Qatar with its harsh laws in place. Protests are expected at the World Cup and it is very important to have crowd control in play, so nothing goes out of hand.

 

General Preview of the Qatar World Cup

  • The first match will take place on Nov 20 with the home team Qatar making their World Cup debut against Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium.
  • The tournament will last from Nov 20-Dec 18 with the final taking place at Lusail Stadium.
  • The average temperature in Qatar will be around 85 degrees Fahrenheit with the games starting between 1pm-10pm local time.
  • World Cup odds (according to CBS Sports):

Brazil +400

France +600

Argentina +650

England +700

Spain +800

Germany +1000

Belgium +1200

Netherlands +1200

Portugal +1200

*USA +10000

  • Players to look out for in Qatar:

Kylian Mbappe [France]. Best player in the world right now with a chance to win another World Cup at the age of 23.

Neymar Jr [Brazil]. Ready to lead Brazil to glory for the sixth time in their history.

Lionel Messi [Argentina]. Last chance to win a World Cup while playing at the highest level at the age of 35.

Cristiano Ronaldo [Portugal]. Looking to become the number one top scorer in a World Cup with just one goal shy.

Kevin De Bruyne [Belgium]. The underdog player in the tournament.

Harry Kane [England]. Top scorer of the 2018 World Cup.

Alphonso Davies [Canada]. Sent Canada to their first World Cup since 1986.

Kai Havertz [Germany]. Germany’s best younger player.

Weston McKennie [USA]. One of Juventus’ best players and the USA’s best midfielder.

Robert Lewandowski [Poland]. Looking for his first goal in a World Cup.

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