World Cup 2022 predictions: Winner, England exit, golden boot, surprise package and more

World Cup 2022 predictions: Winner, England exit, golden boot, surprise package and more

Ahead of the big kick-off in Qatar, Standard Sport writers make their last-minute predictions for a World Cup like no other.

Who will win the tournament?

Dan Kilpatrick: Argentina. A well-drilled side who know what it takes to win tournaments after last year’s Copa America, and Lionel Messi has rarely looked better for his country. Plus, the European big guns all have problems.

Nizaar Kinsella: England. Maybe we are too close to it, but when you weigh up the squads, the talent really is there.

Simon Collings: Brazil. Just take a look at their attacking options. Who else can really compete with that firepower?

Malik Ouzia: Brazil. So many of the European teams have significant issues and virtually no time to resolve them.

How far will England get?

DK: Quarter-finals. Gareth Southgate’s side should have few problems navigating the group and last-16, but a potential quarter-final meeting with holders France may be a step too far for a squad which has gone a little stale.

NK: All the way. I can see parties in the streets, Harry Maguire’s redemption and talk about knighting Harry Kane.

SC: Quarter-finals. The group stage and the last-16 should be navigated fairly easily, but France after that looks a step too far.

MO: Quarter-finals most likely, but I could see Denmark finishing above an injury-hit France in Group D and the draw opening up.

England shoot some Basketball hoops during a FIFA World Cup 2022 training session in Qatar

England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)
England World Cup 2022 Training Session: (The FA via Getty Images)

Who will be the surprise package?

DK: The Netherlands. Louis van Gaal’s side breezed through qualifying and have an exciting young squad under the tutelage of an old master.

NK: Denmark. They were excellent at the Euros and were unlucky to be knocked out by England in the semi-finals. They are quite possibly the best of the rest.

SC: Ecuador. They performed surprisingly well in qualifying, holding Argentina and Brazil to draws.

MO: Serbia. Impressive in the Nations League and a front two of Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic fed by Dusan Tadic is not too shabby.

Lionel Messi is in fine form heading to the Gulf. (AFP via Getty Images)
Lionel Messi is in fine form heading to the Gulf. (AFP via Getty Images)

Who will win the golden boot?

DK: The Argentina side are built around the little magician Messi, who has been in great nick for Paris Saint-Germain and is on course to have his best-ever year for his country.

NK: Harry Kane. For England to win it, he will have to fire — and a favourable group gives him an opportunity to start well.

SC: Lionel Messi. Looks back to his best at Paris-Saint Germain and has been excellent for Argentina this year, too.

MO: Nice to have one of these where Erling Haaland is not the default answer. I will go Brazil’s Richarlison.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

What are you most looking forward to?

DK: Arrivals at Heathrow Airport when I come home for Christmas. While I’m in Qatar, I’m excited to see if Gareth Bale’s semi-retirement plan can pay off with some clutch performances.

NK: The last World Cup for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two icons, could be moving.

SC: People’s faces when you remind them the Carabao Cup fourth round is two days after the World Cup Final.

MO: Whatever’s left of London the morning after England versus USA on a Friday night.