Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s swansong, Neymar and Brazil’s Samba Stars to thrill and England ready to bring it home… why this World Cup promises to be epic

    The World Cup is now just days away and excitement is building ahead of football’s showpiece tournament in Qatar.

    The 32 teams involved include the biggest names in world football and they’re heading to the Middle East to compete for the greatest prize of all.

    The 2022 World Cup is almost upon us

    GETTY

    The 2022 World Cup is almost upon us

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    There have been many iconic moments over the years – who can forget Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, Gordon Banks’ save against Pele and, of course, England lifting the trophy in 1966. 

    This tournament is unlike any other, taking place in winter and in the Middle East for the first time, and history is about to be made.

    William Hill are offering Epic Value for what promises to be an epic World Cup and we cannot wait for it all to kick off.

    Here are five things that we are most looking forward to…

    England to bring it home

    England are in with a serious shot of bringing football home for the first time in 56 years.

    Yeah, yeah – we’ve heard it all before. But it really feels like the Three Lions are ready to go all the way with their tournament record improving each campaign. 

    Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals of the last World Cup, in Russia in 2018, before making it to the final of the European Championship in their most recent major competition. 

    Neither journey ended in a trophy but this year could be the one where they finally go one step further. 

    With the energy and industry of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in midfield and the reigning Golden Boot winner Harry Kane leading the attack, who can stop us? 

    Kane starred with England at Euro 2020 on their route to the final

    Getty

    Kane starred with England at Euro 2020 on their route to the final

    Brazil’s Samba Stars

    Brazil are the most successful nation in World Cup history and the Samba Stars will possess one of the most exciting squads.

    They will be the team that everyone will want to watch with Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha, Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison among their attacking ranks.

    They also boast a strong spine and can afford to choose between two of the best goalkeepers in the game – Ederson and Alisson.

    Tite’s incredible line-up and strength in depth makes Brazil one of the favourites to go far and there’s no doubt that they have the A-List talent in their ranks to deliver a first World Cup triumph since 2002.

    In Neymar, they could have the star of the tournament.

    He’s been outstanding for Paris Saint-Germain this season and is the leader of this team – with 75 goals in 121 caps.

    With the 30-year-old at the top of his game and an unbeaten run of 15 games going into this tournament, Brazil are well poised to deliver on all that promise.

    Neymar will look to star for Brazil this winter

    AFP

    Neymar will look to star for Brazil this winter

    Messi and Ronaldo’s swansong

    This World Cup will mark the end of an era in the footballing world.

    Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two greatest footballers of our time, scoring a staggering 1500 goals between them in their illustrious careers.

    They’ve won a combined total of 70 trophies and have lifted every major honour in club football – but neither of them have a World Cup in their collection.

    At the age of 35 and 37 respectively, this is sure to be their last chance of lifting the Jules Rimet trophy.

    A final of Argentina vs Portugal would be an event that brings the world to a standstill.

    Can one of them do it? 

    Argentina are certainly in fine shape – going a record 35 games without defeat heading into this.

    Portugal, meanwhile, have been more of a mixed bag. But if anyone can get them firing, it’s a certain Mr Ronaldo, who will be even more hungry to prove his worth with a move away from Manchester United looking certain after his bombshell interview.

    Both players will aim to win the World Cup for the first time

    Both players will aim to win the World Cup for the first time

    Wales return to the biggest stage

    It’s not just England flying the flag for the home nations.

    For the first time since 1958, Wales will be at the World Cup – and they’re in the same group as England. 

    Robert Page’s side qualified for the competition after beating Ukraine 1-0 in June in their play-off final. 

    This will be their first major tournament since Euro 2016 in France and they took everyone by surprise six years ago. 

    The Dragons made it all the way to the semi-finals to put England to shame after they were humiliated by Iceland.

    With Gareth Bale leading them in Qatar, could they once again make it a tournament to remember and upstage England? 

    Wales will compete in their first World Cup since 1958

    AFP

    Wales will compete in their first World Cup since 1958

    Underdog stories

    One of the greatest parts of the World Cup is that any country can pull off a famous result on the biggest possible stage. 

    South Korea famously reached the semi-finals two decades ago as they finished fourth when co-hosting with Japan.

    Costa Rica were placed into a so-called ‘group of death’ in 2014, alongside England, Italy and Uruguay, but went on to make it all the way through to the quarter-finals.

    In the last tournament, hosts Russia also made it to the quarters, knocking out European giants Spain in the process.

    History has shown anything can happen and this year’s hosts, Qatar, have had more intense preparations than any other nation – spending six months together in a training camp – as they look to make a major impact on their World Cup debut.

    Iran, Tunisia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia will also be determined to show they are not just making up the numbers.

    It’s truly going to be an epic World Cup!

    William Hill understands the value of football. That’s why they’re bringing you Epic Value throughout the World Cup. See the latest Epic Value here.

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