England’s Odds of Winning the Qatar World Cup 2022
England fans are familiar with hope fading in various stages of World Cup defeat. Might 2022 in Qatar be different? Recent form suggests it might be.
England’s World Cup Group
The first step to winning the World Cup is escaping the group stage, not something even the biggest teams always achieve at major international tournaments. Going into this one, England are considered one of the main contenders for the trophy, but who else joins them in Group B?
The first team England will play at the World Cup is Iran, a match that England should win handily and perhaps find the easiest in the group. That being said, Iran have been one of the top teams in Asia for a while and this is the third World Cup in a row for which they have qualified. Not only that, they may be able to acclimatize to the heat of Qatari winter more readily than any other Group B team.
Second on the menu for England is the United States. In many sports, the USA is clearly better but football is not one of them. They didn’t qualify for the previous World Cup and between 1990 and 2014 exited at the group stage half the time (the high point being a 2002 quarter final). On form, England should win.
The most interesting rival is Wales, a country with which England shares much history, a land border, and a fierce rivalry. Having just barely managed to qualify this time, nothing would get the Welsh roaring like getting one over the larger and much more fancied land next door. The two sides first played each other in 1879, and today the odds are England should be able to see off the Welsh handily. Assuming they can keep control of their nerves. The weight of expectation on England’s shoulders every World Cup cannot be underestimated, and local rivalry will bring an extra edge when they play Wales. But if the Three Lions perform as they can, this should be eminently winnable.
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International Tournament Form
It’s a standard operating procedure for England fans to conjure a list of excuses for past failings and a mirage of hopeful omens for an impending World Cup. Which makes the recent tournament form of England peculiar as fans have genuine reasons for some degree of optimism. Looking at the most recent World Cup and European Championship, the most consistent team is England. In both of these, the side had a top-four finish, and narrowly lost to Italy in the final of Euro 2020. If you judge just by tournament performances, England should be perhaps the single likeliest team to win the World Cup, although past performance is no guarantee of future success.
Should England escape Group B then they will face one of the teams in Group A at the last 16 stage. This is likely to be the Netherlands if England are runner-up, and Senegal if they win Group B. Either team would be perfectly beatable. A team from Groups C or D would await should England make the quarters, with some tantalizing possibilities including old adversaries France or Argentina. Denmark is also possible, and this would be a repeat of England’s Euro 2020 semi-final (which they won).
France would be the sternest test, but no World Cup is beaten without facing stiff competition and recent tournaments have proven that, on their day, England can be a serious threat to any team in the world.
Recent Weak Performances
The problem is that England head into the tournament with some rather weak results. In June, England have lost to Hungary twice, including a 4-0 thrashing, and could only manage ties with Italy and Germany. In those four matches, the side only scored once. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around, and between now and the World Cup there are a couple more Nations League matches (in September England play Italy and Germany again). But if they head into the World Cup with a scoring record of one goal per four matches that would be pretty atrocious. During that same quartet of games, six goals were conceded, which also speaks of defensive frailty.
The squad is set to be announced on 20 October (hopefully after Gareth Southgate has overseen a returning to winning ways).
The Bookies’ Assessment
Fans throwing their money where their heart is can often artificially depress England’s odds, but even with that, the team are a genuine contender for the title (provided they can sort out their recent form). Odds vary according to which sportsbook you look at, but right now England are around 7/1 for the outright win, third behind Brazil (9/2) and France (11/2). Argentina, Spain, and Germany are just marginally longer odds than England.
England and France could meet in the quarter-finals, which might be the make-or-break moment for either side’s title prospects (although Argentina will be doing their best to beat the French and meet old foes England at this stage).
Can England win the World Cup? Yes. But whether they will or not we will only discover in the winter of Qatar.