Updated:Oct 31, 2022
World Cup years are usually a source of great excitement for football fans around the world. This year, however, is slightly different. That’s because for the first time ever, the World Cup is being held in November and December rather than the traditional months of June and July.
Ever since Qatar was awarded the World Cup back in December 2010, there has been a lot of controversy around the tournament. The country is not a traditional footballing nation. They were not well set up to host the world’s biggest sporting event. In fact, they needed to build seven new stadiums, a new airport, a new metro system, a series of new roads and about 100 new hotels.
On top of the lack of facilities at the time they were awarded the tournament, there was an obvious issue with the temperatures. Summers in Qatar regularly see temperatures reaching in excess of 41°C (106.2°F) with nighttime temperatures only dropping to an average of 27.7°C (81.9°F) in June.
Football in these conditions simply wouldn’t be possible. And so, the tournament was moved to the end of the year. It is still going to be very hot. In November, in Doha, the average high temperature is 29.5°C (85.1°F), and the average low temperature is 19.5°C (67.1°F).
All the new stadiums have been built with air conditioning which should help the fans as much as the players. Regular drink breaks have been factored into the schedule in a bid to avoid heat exhaustion. Teams have had a long time to prepare for the conditions so should have had the time to acclimatise.
Despite all the controversy surrounding the tournament, once the FIFA 2022 World Cup kicks off on Sunday 20 November when the host nation Qatar take on Ecuador, you can guarantee that football fans will be glued to their TVs, and all thoughts about the destination and the heat will go out of the window.
With hot temperatures expected for the duration of the tournament, it would appear that the conditions play into the hands of those countries already used to playing in warmer climates. Perennial favourites Brazil is once again the favourites for this year’s tournament. Betway Sports has Brazil as the 5.50 favourites, followed by France and Argentina.
Despite playing most of their football in the cold winter months, England are the fourth favourite following their stellar performance at the 2020 European Championships where they eventually lost on penalties in the final to Italy. Italy, on the other hand, will not be in Qatar, having failed to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Brazil certainly seems to have been handed a friendly group in their bid to win a record sixth title in Qatar. They haven’t won the World Cup for 20 years, however, with their last victory coming at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. They will face Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G and are heavily favoured to progress as group winners.
Defending champions France will open their defence against Australia on 23 November before facing a potentially tricky fixture against Denmark and finishing their group stage against Tunisia. Denmark ran out 2-0 winners in their final warm-up before the World Cup starts against the French in September, a result that will give them plenty of confidence heading into the tournament.
Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, will be hoping to lift the World Cup for the third time following their successes in 1978 and 1986. Messi, of course, will be hoping to head to what could be his final World Cup with the hope of going one step further than in 2014 when Argentina was beaten in the final by Germany. He will also be hoping to add to his one international success – the 2021 Copa America.
Argentina’s group appears to be a friendly one – especially for a group of players that have underachieved given the talent available to them. They will open up against Saudi Arabia before facing Mexico and Poland. They should come out of the group as winners and open up a friendlier route through the knock-out stages. They find themselves on the opposite side of the draw to fierce rivals Brazil and you wouldn’t rule out an all-South America final.
England find themselves in a potentially tricky group. Whilst on paper, it is a group they should come out of with no trouble, they have notoriously struggled in past World Cups. They open up with what should be a routine victory against Iran, however, they then face the USA team who are an unknown before finishing up against Wales. Whilst there is a gulf in the quality between England and Wales, form and history often go out of the window in a home nations match, with Wales likely to treat this as their World Cup final, no matter their chances of making it through to the knockout stage.
Whilst there is no doubt this will be one of the strangest World Cups, football fans will quickly forget all about the build-up to the tournament once things kick-off as they get behind their team’s bid to be crowned FIFA World Champions.