While we still don't know all the participants in the 2022 World Cup, we do know all of the games -- when they will be played, where they will be played, and who, theoretically, might be playing. From Nov. 21 through Dec. 18, 64 total matches will be played in Qatar. So, guess what? We're going to predict every single one.
Sure, we're seven months away from rosters being finalized. Players can get injured, players can play poorly, players can appear out of nowhere, managers can quit their jobs -- the list of complicating factors is endless. Only a maniac would attempt to pick every game at the World Cup on April 5, but that's why I'm here. I am your maniac.
Before we get started, though, there a couple of things are worth noting. To start, among the teams still with playoffs to contest, I just selected the countries with the best FIFA rating and chose them for this exercise. (Go Peru, Wales and Costa Rica. Sorry, New Zealand, Ukraine, Scotland, Australia and the UAE.) In addition to that: Unless otherwise noted, any stats I mention in the piece come from Stats Perform and are from a combination of World Cup qualifying and any continental tournament that has taken place within the past year: 2021 CONCACAF Nations League, the Copa America and Euros from last summer, and the Africa Cup of Nations from earlier this year.
Lastly, I've employed the help of the consultancy Twenty First Group, who have built a model that combines individual player ratings and team performance to create a rating for every international team. With international soccer, there aren't enough games to truly judge a team based on its recent results and the rosters are always changing, so this method attempts to address those problems. I'll reference their ratings throughout this journey; it's just another tool to help guide us from start to finish.
All right, let's get to it!