Glenn Hoddle’s World Cup predictions: Winner, dark horses and England’s star man


    Glenn Hoddle
    Glenn Hoddle earned 53 caps for England and led the Three Lions to the 1998 World Cup (Photo: Betfair)

    Former England manager Glenn Hoddle has made his World Cup predictions and belives that Qatar 2022 will produce plenty of surprises.

    With no clear favourite to win this year’s tournament, Hoddle believes there are at least six countries who could emerge as champions and that is not including various dark horses and minnows who could upset the odds in the group stage.

    The former Three Lions star believes England could struggle but will give themselves a huge chance of going all the way if their star players can hit the ground running.

    Speaking exclusively to Metro Sport, via Betfair, here are Hoddle’s 2022 World Cup predictions:

    Who will win the World Cup?

    I think England are in that little crop of about six countries that could win. If I was to put a bet on it, I’d probably say Brazil.

    I think it’s quite open, there are going to be a couple of favourites, Brazil being one, but I’m not sure they’re hot favourites. There’s no standout team that you think are definitely going to win.

    I think Brazil tick a lot of the boxes, they look quite solid at the back, and they have the flair at the other end of the pitch.

    I think they’ve got the right balance. To win a World Cup you need a goalkeeper who’s going to play really well and then you can build on that base from there and I think they’ve got two goalkeepers [Alisson and Ederson] who are very solid.

    Brazil v Tunisia - International Friendly
    Alisson’s shot-stopping abilities will be key to Brazil’s chances (Photo: Getty)

    Who are the dark horses?

    I think Denmark, they had a great Euros, and they’ll want to build on that. They’re coming in again under the radar as they always do. They’ve beaten France recently.

    Perhaps they haven’t got a finisher, an out-and-out striker that you feel will get five or six goals for them. But they have a lot of goal scorers in their squad. They score all over the pitch actually.

    I also wouldn’t count out teams like Portugal and Belgium. Everyone keeps thinking they’ve gone past their sell by date, but it wouldn’t surprise me if one of those teams went deep as well.

    Once you get to a semi-final anything can happen. You get the right decisions like penalties, a sending off for the opposition – all those things come into it.

    So, Denmark, Portugal, Belgium. Let’s face it, if one of them wins the World Cup it would be a surprise.

    As for the group stages, don’t be surprised if Iran do well. They’re a good side and will be quite awkward to play in that first game for England.

    I think it will be interesting to see how Wales get on against Iran, that will be key. If they beat Iran, I think they’ll qualify but don’t be surprised if Iran surprise everyone.

    There are a few teams that we don’t know too much about, like Ecuador who are decent, who might surprise us.

    England v Denmark - UEFA Euro 2020: Semi-final
    Denmark had an emotional run to the Euros semi-finals in 2021 (Photo: Getty)

    Football might not be coming home

    I think if we get to the semi-finals we would have done quite well. But as I say if you get to the semi-finals anything can happen.

    It’s about peaking at the right time. What’s gone on with England with the results at the moment is pretty negative, but I don’t see that as a problem. I don’t think that’s going to have an impact at all on this squad that’s going to go out there and start this World Cup.

    You’ve got to look at this from a reverse angle and think do people really want to play against England at the moment? They might not, you know. Yes, we’ve got our Achilles heel defensively, but I still say with what we’ve got going forward and in that midfield area we should cause a lot of problems to a lot of teams.

    It’s not an easy group, it’s easier group than some others but Iran, Wales and America are really awkward teams to play against.

    They’re not going to play an open game of football; they’re going to defend deep and in numbers and it’s up to us to open them up and we’re not at our very best when we’re doing that.

    I see us getting through the group stages, but I think we’ll have a few hiccups, a few difficulties along the way because of that.

    What is handy is that we play Wales last in those group games. If we’ve done our work in the first two games, it’ll be nice to play Wales. You wouldn’t want to go into that game having to win because that is a very, very difficult game. All home nations games are.

    When we played Scotland [at Euro 2020] or when we played Wales in France [Euro 2016] we only scraped through. They are not nice games, not nice to the eye, they’re not easy to play in. The passion of it and stuff.

    England 2022 World Cup Commercial Window
    Can Gareth Southgate’s England bring football home (Photo: Getty)

    Who is England’s key player?

    I’m hoping it’s going to be Phil Foden. He doesn’t get on the ball a lot for England, whether that’s his fault or the system, but I think if we get him on the ball a lot like he does for City, he’s a special talent.

    I’d love to see him come out as one of the top players at the tournament. He can score goals, he can create, and he works hard, he knows his defensive duties. So, he’s an all-round midfield player but I’d like to see him in the forward positions behind Kane, pulling the strings.

    Obviously, the young boy [Jude] Bellingham is a lovely player. He’s got vast experience for a youngster. This could be an exciting time for him as well.

    Italy v England: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3
    Attacking midfielder Phil Foden has 18 caps for England (Photo: Getty)

    Who will be the breakout star in Qatar?

    I think it would be difficult to get him, but I think the young kid in Spain Pedri would be an interesting one. I think he’s a very good talent playing in a very good football side.

    I’m not sure Spain have got enough fire power to go all the way, but he’s one I could see playing in the Premier League but obviously a lot depends on that. Does he want to go abroad or not etc. But he certainly would be one who would liven up the Premier League.

    There are a few youngsters around. Bellingham is one of those. Big clubs are after him already and you envisage him moving to the Premier League at some stage.

    Spain v Switzerland: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2
    At just 19, midfielder Pedri is already a key player for Spain (Photo: Getty)

    Who will win the Golden Boot?

    You know what, I’m going to be really positive here and I think if England go really deep into the tournament I’m going for Kane.

    Some of these players you see, they’re going to score some free-kicks – possibly Neymar, [Lionel] Messi – but they’re not going to score from set plays. England are dangerous from set plays and Harry Kane scores from set plays.

    You add that to what I feel England now have with [James] Maddison, [Mason] Mount, Foden, [Jack] Grealish, Trent Alexander Arnold. He’s going to get a lot of service if we play it right.

    The key for England in these group games is that if we go 1-0 up then those teams are going to have to open up and that’s when I see Harry scoring quite a few goals.

    England v Germany: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3
    England captain Harry Kane won the World Cup Golden Boot at Russia 2018 (Photo: Getty)

    How will Lionel Messi perform?

    It’s a tough one, there’s a couple of shoulders that weigh heavy. Neymar would be one and Messi would be one.

    Messi is fantastic, a genius of a player but he’s always had that [Diego] Maradona scenario – that he’s won a World Cup in a very average team – that’s always been heavy on his shoulders.

    He’s one that will want to put that right. He’s in a decent team that will have a good chance.

    And I think Neymar as well. He’s played well this season and he’s knuckled down a bit. He might be more determined than usual and understands that as a team Brazil are very good and this might be his moment.

    So, there’s a bit of pressure on those two, there really is. They could have a mediocre tournament, not a poor one, but everyone’s expecting them to have a great World Cup.

    [Kylian] Mbappe also but he’s young enough to come back again if it doesn’t work out and he’s already won a World Cup so he can relax a little bit more.

    Jamaica v Argentina
    Can Lionel Messi emulate his hero Diego Maradona and lead Argentina to World Cup glory (Photo: Getty)

    Can Ronaldo rediscover his form?

    This World Cup coming up as it is with what’s happened to him at club level, I think he’s chomping on the bit. I think there’s a real determination about Ronaldo to prove Man United wrong, to prove to everyone world that he’s still one of the best players in the world.

    It’s pretty obvious his United story has come to an end, and he’ll close his book, but I think more importantly he’s going to use that incentive for what’s happened for the World Cup.

    So I think this has come at a great time for Portugal and they can feed off that. And they have a strong team as well, the XI that they put out will have a nice balance to it and if they give him the opportunities, if they create a lot for him, he could have a wonderful tournament.

    For me, he’s still one of the best finishers that United have got. I look at other players and think, “You know what, Ronaldo would have put that ball in the back of the net had he been given that chance”, and I think that’s what he could possibly do for Portugal.

    Portugal v Spain -UEFA Nations league
    Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview has burnt all his bridges with Manchester United (Photo: Getty)

    Wish you were here?

    It’s got to be [Erling] Haaland, although he would have been playing in a team that wouldn’t be fancied of course [Norway] but it’s got to be him.

    And [Sadio] Mane. I know he’s in the squad but it’s still a massive loss for Senegal it really is, whether the witch doctor can do his bit and get him out there.

    But at the end of the day that’s a massive blow for them. That’s like England losing Kane, thank God we didn’t.

    Iran v Senegal - International Friendly
    Senegal’s Sadio Mane was injured just before the start of Qatar 2022 (Photo: Getty)

    This World Cup with Betfair, when you bet £10 on the Golden Boot winner you can get a £2 free bet anytime they score or assist full details here

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