I’m about to do something that is relatively unheard of on this site. That’s right, I’m about to write a blog about soccer. To some this might be a welcome surprise. For others, they couldn’t scroll past this blog quicker. It’s World Cup time however, so I feel an obligation as a fútbol fan to write about it.
The World Cup is in my humble opinion the greatest sporting event in the entire world. Apologies to the Super Bowl, March Madness, World Series, and even the Olympics. Nothing hits quite like the FIFA World Cup.
I’m not sure why there is such a bias in America towards soccer, but let me say this right now. If you’re not into soccer, you are missing out. Big time.
I feel like lately the game is starting to grow in the U.S. The English Premier League and other soccer leagues are becoming far easier to stream and watch. More and more I notice people talking about soccer. I’m sure legalized sports betting has also helped with this.
However, considering how large the sport is around the world, it’s still shockingly small here. Golf, which don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of, is arguably more popular in the U.S. than soccer. That’s just wild to me.
I believe that’s what moved me to write this blog. The World Cup is the kind of thing that even non-soccer fans have to tune in to. What other event save for the Olympics can you say draws billions of eyes. Literally the whole world watches. My hope with every World Cup is that people will watch it and become followers.
So, this is a guide for people who maybe aren’t the hugest fans of the sport. Who want to tune in but don’t really know what’s going on. No need to fear, I got you covered. Here’s my guide to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
This World Cup Is Very Historic
If you’re just getting into the sport, congrats! You’ve picked quite the World Cup to start following. The 2022 competition is unlike any other, setting some new precidents.
The World Cup this year will be played in Qatar. This marks the first ever World Cup to be played in the Middle East. Normally speaking, either European countries or South American countries predominantly hosts the World Cup.
This is just the second time in the competition’s history that an AFC (Asian Football Confederation) country has hosted a World Cup. The previous time was in 2002, when the event was hosted jointly by South Korea and Japan.
This is also the first ever World Cup to be heald in the winter months. Due to the incredibly warm climate of Qatar’s in the traditional summertime, the event had to be moved to the winter. As someone who has watched every World Cup since 2006, I can say it’s a weird thing.
Having a World Cup match going on the same time as the NFL is going to be quite an experience. Part of me is excited for it, other parts of me long for the traditional summer World Cup.
This will also be the final World Cup to have a field of 32 countries. Starting in the 2026 World Cup, the field will officially expand to 48 countries.
Qatar World Cup Is Shrowded By Controversy
We gotta talk about this for a second. As much fun as the World Cup can be, it is a business at the end of the day. As much as it’s for our enjoyment, it’s also a money making machine. With an event of this size and magnitude, it opens itself up to controversy.
There are a number of controversies surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This has lead to many people boycotting the event.
Where to start. The first major controversy that has even the participating teams speaking out is some of the views of host nation Qatar. The Middle East nation is one of 11 countries in the world that has homosexuality as a crime potentially punishable by death.
So, there’s that. The LGBTQ community has been very vocal against the World Cup being heald in Qatar. The host nation hasn’t wavered either. Leading up to the event they have remained firm in their beliefs and laws against LGBTQ people.
Participating countries including the U.S. have spoken our against this. Team USA soccer has been utilizing a team logo with rainbow colors in protest against Qatar.
Then there’s also the controversy surrounding how Qatar even got the host bid in the first place. It’s pretty well known that they bribed FIFA voters for the rights to host. Russia was accused of the same thing in 2018. Although neither country has been outright proven to have done this, multiple FIFA voters have come forward claiming to have been bribed.
So yeah. As much fun as the tournament is, I do feel it’s important to know these things. It’s shady for sure, but to be completely honest, FIFA is a pretty corrupt organization. It’s nothing new. Does it mean it should ruin your enjoyment of the tournament? That’s entirely up to you to decide.
Where To Watch The Matches
Fox Sports owns the exclusive rights to the English language broadcast games. So all the live World Cup games can be watched on the Fox channels, including FS1. You can watch a Spanish version of the broadcasts on Telemundo or NBC Peacock streaming.
Some Storylines To Follow
Just as with every sporting tournaments, there are always some storylines to follow. The last ride, the new up-and-comers, the underdog story. This World Cup is not deprived of them.
Ronaldo and Messi, One Last Time
For the general audience who may not be the biggest soccer fans, there are two names that I’m sure you know. Even if you don’t follow the sport, you either know these two or at least heard the name spoken once or twice. I’m of course talking about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
They are not just sports icons, but cultural icons as well. There’s a reason that you know their names even if you hate the sport. They transcend the game. They are truly the best of the best.
The sad reality is that this going to be their final World Cup appearances. There’s always a chance they could make in appearance in 2026, but I truly doubt it. Both have indicated this will be the last ride.
It makes sense. Ronaldo is 37 years old, and would be 41 by the time the next World Cup rolls around. Messi is 35 years old, and would be 39 in 2026. Although not impossible, it’s incredibly unlikely.
If this is their last ride, it should be celebrated. These two are all-time greats, the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson of soccer. What also makes it interesting is that both players are on good squads. They have legitimate chances to make a run at the title.
Neither has tasted World Cup glory. Messi has been the closest to it, reaching the Final in the 2014 World Cup. Messi and Argentina unfortunately came up short in extra time to champion Germany. Ronaldo has a European Championship to his name, but has never reached a World Cup Final. Only once in his career has Portugal even advanced beyond the Round of 16 (2006 World Cup).
France Attempt To Defend Title
The French took home all the glory in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Their team was stacked to the brim with elite level talent. France is a team filled with stars from some of the best leagues in the world.
Les Blues will look to defend their title coming into 2022. The challenge ahead of them is a steep one. Only two nations in the history of the tournament have ever repeated as champions. It hasn’t happened in 60 years, with Brazil being the last country to accomplish that feat (1958 & 1962 World Champions).
France has the talent to accomplish this, however they’ve run into some problems. Due to the odd date for the tournament, the palyers’ individual seasons with their club teams are currently in play. Normally the players would have a gap in time between the end of their season and the start of the World Cup.
Players get hurt during their seasons, which unfortunately means a number of players will have to sit out the World Cup. For France, they will be without multiple key players. Stars N’Golo Kantè and Paul Pogba are just two of the key players whom France will be without.
Despite the injuries, France still has a strong chance to make a run. Whether they can overcome said injuries and become the third nation ever to repeat is to be determined.
Young USA Squad Looks To Make Noise
For the first time in nearly a decade, Team USA is putting a pretty solid team on the pitch. They’re young and lacking some experience, but they’re solid.
USA soccer was on a bit of a downturn after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They failed to qualify for 2018 in Russia. Team USA was notably blocked by Trinidad and Tobago in qualifying. It was a pathetic showing for sure.
The program has rebounded though, rallying around a youth movement that has people excited. I haven’t felt USA fans this excited for a World Cup since 2010 honestly.
Highlighted by Captain America himself, Christian Pulisic, USA soccer has the potential to make a little noise. Do they have a chance to win? Honestly no, but that’s okay. Making it past the Round of 16 would personally make me happy. USA has only advanced beyond the Round of 16 twice ever (1930 & 2002).
Expectations have to be realistic. This being the most talented USA team in a while, I believe they could surprise some people. Here’s to hoping we go on a little run past the group stage.
Fútbol Titans Look Dangerous
As with any sport, there are always those teams that are just always good. Sure, they have little lull periods, but for the most part they are consistently successful. Think Pittsburgh Steelers in football or the Los Angeles Lakers in basketball. These are the titans of their sport.
Fútbol has their own titans as well. Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France, Germany, and England are pretty well regarded as the gold standards of international soccer. Italy is usually also in that class, but they failed to qualify this year. Ouch, too soon?
Those six nations I listed have all made at least 15 World Cup appearances all time. All those nations have also won at least one World Cup title. In the case of Brazil (5), Germany (4), Argentina (2), and France (2), they’ve won multiple.
Not only are those nations in the World Cup in 2022, but shockingly enough, they are all really good. Like, REALLY good. Those six nations all have the best odds to win the whole thing. It’s honestly better for the sport when those teams are hot.
Seeing them all alive and well in this tournament will be quite fun. You won’t want to miss when those teams are playing, that’s for sure.
World Cup Odds
I’ve already talked earlier about why this year’s tournament is historic. One reason I did not mention earlier is that for the U.S., this is the first time that sports betting is legalized in the country during a World Cup.
That’s a pretty big deal. One that I don’t believe enough people are talking about. Still not convinced to get invested in the festivities? How about throwing your hard earned cash on a game and riding out a bet for 90 minutes!
Jokes aside, I do think it’s huge for the growth of the sport in the U.S. to be able to bet on games. For those people who are hard to sell on the sport, sports betting should make it easier.
I know I’m excited about it. The ability to hop on Draft Kings or Fan Duel and bet on World Cup games is going to be epic. God bless my bank account (seriously though, please gamble responsibly).
If you’re looking for any inspiration for maybe a future bet for the World Cup, I have you covered. Here are the current title odds for every participating nation, via CBS Sports:
- Brazil +400
- Argentina +550
- France +650
- England +750
- Spain +750
- Germany +1000
- Netherlands +1400
- Portugal +1400
- Belgium +1600
- Denmark +3000
- Croatia +5000
- Uruguay +5000
- Serbia +7000
- Mexico +10000
- USA +10000
- Poland +10000
- Senegal +10000
- Switzerland +10000
- Wales +12500
- Ghana +15000
- Canada +15000
- Ecuador +15000
- Morocco +20000
- Cameroon +25000
- Japan +25000
- South Korea +25000
- Tunisia +30000
- Qatar +30000
- Australia +40000
- Costa Rica +50000
- Iran +50000
- Saudi Arabia +50000
Teams To Stream
I’ve already talked about it a little, but there are definitely some teams that are more enjoyable to watch than others. If you’re living in the United States, I’m hoping you’ll watch all three of the group stage games. November 25th against England should be a classic.
Aside from the U.S., you should probably follow the aforementioned “Titans of Fútbol.” They are all super talented and super exciting to watch. The best players in the world on the biggest stage, what could be better?
Aside from those seven nations, I’d say Portugal, Belgium, Croatia, and Uruguay are good teams to follow. In my opinion, these are the most interesting and exciting teams in the tournament. Follow them, and I promise you won’t be dissapointed!
Full World Cup Group Stage Schedule
I’ll be posting World Cup content throughout the duration of it, so stay tuned for that! For now, this is the end of my guide, I hope it helps get you ready. The tournament kicks off this Sunday at 11 AM EST when host Qatar faces off with Ecuador.
My last gift to you is to drop the whole group stage schedule right in here. Every game, every time. Enjoy!
Sunday, November 20th:
- Qatar vs Ecuador, 11:00 AM EST
Monday, November 21st:
- England vs Iran, 8:00 AM EST
- Senegal vs Netherlands, 11:00 AM EST
- USA vs Wales, 2:00 PM EST
Tuesday, November 22nd:
- Argentina vs Saudi Arabia, 5:00 AM EST
- Denmark vs Tunisia, 8:00 AM EST
- Mexico vs Poland, 11:00 AM EST
- France vs Australia, 2:00 PM EST
Wednesday, November 23rd:
- Morocco vs Croatia, 5:00 AM EST
- Germany vs Japan, 8:00 AM EST
- Spain vs Costa Rica, 11:00 AM EST
- Belgium vs Canada, 2:00 PM EST
Thursday, November 24th:
- Switzerland vs Cameroon, 5:00 AM EST
- Uruguay vs South Korea, 8:00 AM EST
- Portugal vs Ghana, 11:00 AM EST
- Brazil vs Serbia, 2:00 PM EST
Friday, November 25th:
- Wales vs Iran, 5:00 AM EST
- Qatar vs Senegal, 8:00 AM EST
- Netherlands vs Ecuador, 11:00 AM EST
- England vs USA, 2:00 PM EST
Saturday, November 26th:
- Tunisia vs Australia, 5:00 AM EST
- Poland vs Saudi Arabia, 8:00 AM EST
- France vs Denmark, 11:00 AM EST
- Argentina vs Mexico, 2:00 PM EST
Sunday, November 27th:
- Japan vs Costa Rica, 5:00 AM EST
- Belgium vs Morocco, 8:00 AM EST
- Croatia vs Canada, 11:00 AM EST
- Spain vs Germany, 2:00 PM EST
Monday, November 28th:
- Cameroon vs Serbia, 5:00 AM EST
- South Korea vs Ghana, 8:00 AM EST
- Brazil vs Switzerland, 11:00 AM EST
- Portugal vs Uruguay, 2:00 PM EST
Tuesday, November 29th:
- Netherlands vs Qatar, 10:00 AM EST
- Ecuador vs Senegal, 10:00 AM EST
- Iran vs USA, 2:00 PM EST
- Wales vs England, 2:00 PM EST
Wednesday, November 30th:
- Tunisia vs France, 10:00 AM EST
- Australia vs Denmark, 10:00 AM EST
- Saudi Arabia vs Mexico, 2:00 PM EST
- Poland vs Argentina, 2:00 PM EST
Thursday, December 1st:
- Canada vs Morocco, 10:00 AM EST
- Croatia vs Belgium, 10:00 AM EST
- Costa Rica vs Germany, 2:00 PM EST
- Japan vs Spain, 2:00 PM EST
Friday, December 2nd:
- South Korea vs Portugal, 10:00 AM EST
- Ghana vs Uruguay, 10:00 AM EST
- Cameroon vs Brazil, 2:00 PM EST
- Serbia vs Switzerland, 2:00 PM EST
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