Ahead of the opening game of the 2022 , several Sky Sports pundits have made their predictions for the tournament.
The 32 best teams in the world have arrived in Qatar bidding to become world champions in a unique and controversial World Cup.
The action gets underway on Sunday when hosts Qatar face Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
France are the current holders, having lifted the World Cup in 2018, but the likes of Brazil, Argentina and England are expected to challenge for the trophy.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville is backing five-time winners Brazil to come out on top, telling : ‘We always feel we have got great players in this country and we do, but when you look at the Brazil squad you think, “Oh my God – where have they come from?”
‘It was the same when I was playing in tournaments. They had incredibly special players. I’m quite confident they will win it.’
Ex-England midfielder Jamie Redknapp agrees, adding: ‘Neymar’s in great form again – I have gone with Brazil as I feel it could be their time again.’
Support for Brazil also came from former England Lionesses star Karen Carney, who said: ‘I’ve got a soft spot for them, to be honest – but if you look at their attacking players, they are just a joy to watch.
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‘Everyone talks about Messi’s last one, but it could be Neymar’s as well. I think Argentina could meet Brazil in the semi-final so it comes down to whoever wins that.’
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, meanwhile, has gone for Argentina in what looks set to be Lionel Messi’s final World Cup.
‘It was either Brazil or Argentina for me,’ he said. ‘They are the two favourites, but I would love to see Messi win the World Cup. I feel that would cement his position as the greatest player of all time.’
Neville, Carragher, Redknapp and Carney have also predicted the World Cup runners-up, surprise package, player of the tournament and top goal-scorer, while they delivered their verdicts on England’s fate.
World Cup winner
Gary Neville – Brazil
Jamie Carragher – Argentina
Karen Carney – Brazil
Jamie Redknapp – Brazil
Jamie Carragher – Portugal
Karen Carney – Spain
‘In the Euros, they went out to Italy, and I think it’s their possession of the ball which will take them close. They eventually lost to Italy on penalties, and their young players are phenomenal in midfield.
‘Their manager Luis Enrique is really experienced so they only thing that concerns me is goalscoring, but I back them to keep the ball.
‘They have won the World Cup previously without a striker so I don’t see it being any different.’
Gary Neville – France
Jamie Redknapp – Spain
Jamie Carragher – Quarter-finals
Gary Neville – Quarter-finals
‘It’s dangerous to predict where the pathways of teams are going to go, but it looks like England are going to do what they think they will in the group, and France do the same, they would meet in the quarters and I just don’t think they would beat France.
‘But this is the one manager and one group of players who I think can put a performance together and hang in there – and they can also win on penalties. I do think there’s a chance, but I think France will be stronger in the quarters.’
Jamie Redknapp – Quarter-finals
‘I think England’s performance in the Nations League has dampened everybody’s expectations. I just hope I’m wrong and we get a bit of momentum and start to play.
‘I hope we can get that belief and real confidence in these players, then anything is possible because I do believe it’s a wide-open tournament.
‘When you look at the possible champions, you have people thinking France could win it, but they have problems in midfield. It’s going to take a bit of momentum for me to get excited.’
Karen Carney – Semi-finals
‘I think this is the most we can hope for. With (Paul) Pogba and (N’Golo) Kante out, I feel this is why we might progress past France.
‘After then, it’s pot luck but we’d be happy. Of course, we would want to get to the final but realistically getting to the semi-finals would be good.’
Jamie Carragher – Denmark
‘Denmark are in France’s group, and they played each other not so long ago and beat them. If Denmark finish top of that group, France could then play Argentina in the first knockout stage.’
Karen Carney – Spain
Gary Neville – Denmark
Jamie Redknapp – Senegal
‘I like them and I feel they have got some talented players with pace in the team. They are exciting. I don’t think they will go deep into the tournament but it’s not really a surprise if Spain do well.’
Surprise early exit
Karen Carney – Belgium
Jamie Carragher – Belgium
‘They have been a great team and Roberto Martinez has done fantastically well – they finished third in the last World Cup but I just feel it’s a step too far.
‘Romelu Lukaku hasn’t played for weeks, even months. I’m not sure he’s played this weekend for Inter Milan either. I feel they could be the surprise package to go out.’
Jamie Redknapp – Belgium
Gary Neville – Uruguay
Karen Carney – Lionel Messi
Jamie Redknapp – Lautaro Martinez
‘Whoever wins the Golden Boot usually scores a lot of goals in their group games. Argentina have got Saudi Arabia in their group so that’s why I’ve gone for them.
‘Harry Kane has a great opportunity as well when you look at the fixtures, starting against Iran. No one has ever won back-to-back Golden Boots so it would be great to see him do that. Martinez will get goals for Argentina.’
Gary Neville – Kylian Mbappe
Jamie Carragher – Lautaro Martinez
Player of the tournament
Karen Carney – Neymar
‘I think Argentina and Brazil will meet in the semi-finals and so I think it’s a battle between Messi and Neymar. Whoever wins that battle, for me, will be player of the tournament.’
Gary Neville – Neymar
Jamie Carragher – Messi
Jamie Redknapp – Neymar
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