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The stakes of an exceptional 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Accompanied by a procession of controversy, the first football World Cup to be held in the Arab world begins this Sunday, November 20 in Al-Khor, Qatar. What to expect in this very special 22nd edition of the World Cup? Decryption before the start of the show.

On July 15, 2018, France was crowned world champion in Russia against Croatia and hung a second star on its jersey. 1,589 days later, the quest for the World Cup is officially relaunched in Qatar. The host country opens the ball on Sunday against Ecuador for the first of 64 matches scheduled until the final on December 18.

For the first time in 20 years, the World Cup is organized on the Asian continent. And for the first time since its creation, it is in an Arab country that the competition takes place. In the department of novelties, there is also seasonality: exit the end of spring and the beginning of summer, place in autumn-winter. The calendar and the habits of the football planet are greatly turned upside down this year.

Usually, more than 3 billion viewers follow the Mondial. At the dawn of the kick-off, an overview of the expectations and questions around this global sporting event, in an emirate on which all eyes in the world are now focused.

  • Faced with the controversies, will Qatar ensure its role as host country?

Rarely will a country have aroused so many controversies before organizing a World Cup. The choice of Qatar, at the end of 2010, to the detriment of the United States, has been widely studied and documented. It’s about sports of course, but also lots of geopoliticsmoney, ecology… This World Cup 2022 goes out of the frame like none before.

With its air-conditioned stadiums, its limited hotel facilities which forces many spectators to stay in neighboring countries, its legislation, its use of foreign workers, its working conditions and its controversies around human rights, Qatar is strongly criticized. From now on, the host, who knows he is being watched closely, must ensure the smooth running of the competition. In a very special atmosphere, therefore.

Gianni Infantino, the all-powerful president of the International Football Federation (Fifa), raised his voice on Saturday, on the eve of kick-off. The leader castigated the “ hypocrisy of the Western world and felt that the criticisms made were ” deeply unjust “. Infantino also called for focusing on the game now: We are organizing a World Cup, not a war. »

The Lusail stadium will host the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar on December 18, 2022. AP – Hassan Ammar
  • Will the France team suffer the curse of the outgoing champion?

Are we still going to witness the debacle of a world champion? Since Brazil crowned in 2002 and eliminated in the quarter-finals in 2006, the defending champion has always been out in the first round. Italy, the 2006 world champion, collapsed in 2010 by finishing last in a group with Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand.

Same misadventure for Spain, world champion in 2010: with a victory against Australia and two losses, La Roja finished in third place in its group in 2014, behind the Netherlands and Chile.

Germany, titled in 2014, were out in the first round in 2018 too, with fourth place in the group behind Sweden, Mexico and South Korea (one win, two losses). France, placed in Group D with Australia, Denmark and Tunisia, hopes to avoid the ax. The Blues remember that in 2002, they had taken the door in the first round, four years after their coronation at home.

  • Will the Brazilian favorite return to the heights?

Before the start of the World Cup, bookmakers around the world are unanimous: Brazil is favored in the forecasts, generally ahead of France and Argentina. The five-time world champion country (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) even has the label of big favourite, as it arrives without a major absentee and with a group combining experience, talent and youth in practically all positions.

Neymar, 30, presents himself as the conductor of a team in search of recognition, 20 years after the last coronation of the band to Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. In great shape, the PSG striker finally wants to make history in Qatar.

With 75 goals in 121 caps, the captain hopes to erase Pelé’s record of achievements (77), and of course finally lift the World Cup. He can count on sure values ​​like Alisson Becker, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta or even Vinicius.

  • Will an African country finally reach the quarter-finals again, or even more?

Will Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia put Africa back at its highest level in the world? The five African qualifiers have, in any case, a first challenge which consists in getting out of the pools. Four years ago, none had managed to survive the first round, which had not happened since 1982, when the World Cup was played at 24.

Finding at least one African country among the 16 best in the world would be a first step forward. The next would be to see this or these selections climb into the top 8. You have to go back to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 to see an African country reach the quarter-finals.

That year, Ghana passed the first round, then beat the United States in the round of 16, before falling on penalties in a anthology match against Uruguay in the quarters. From that time, there is only one man left: André Ayew, the captain of the Black Stars. The son of Abedi Pelé would see himself leading his own to the same stage, and perhaps beyond. Cameroonians, Moroccans, Senegalese and Tunisians also dream of it.

► To read also: World Cup 2022: what can African countries expect?

  • Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will they offer us a last duel of giants?

With such monsters, nothing is certain. Is this World Cup the last of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, aged 37 and 35? Maybe yes, maybe no. The tendency is all the same for this World Cup to be the last major competition bringing together the two men.

The Argentinian and the Portuguese have not missed any edition since the first in 2006. They have crossed swords many times in La Liga and the Champions League but have never had to face each other in an official international match. In this World Cup in Qatar, a possible Argentina-Portugal will not be possible before the semi-finals or the final.

While waiting for a hypothetical frontal shock, the public will witness a remote fight between the “Pulga” and “CR7”. The two have been rivals for a very long time, and their thirst for titles and records has provoked exceptional emulation, one always pushing the other to surpass themselves. But none have lifted the Jules-Rimet Cup… until now.

  • Will there be a “surprise” team?

It is rare for a World Cup to take place without a “surprise” or somewhat unexpected team pulling out of the game. In 2018, despite certain talents, few bettors had put a ticket on Croatia finally. In 2014, the Costa Rica of Keylor Navas and the Colombia of a resplendent James Rodriguez (top scorer and author of the most beautiful goal of the year) were not expected until the quarter-finals.

And what about the presence of South Korea and Turkey in the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, or Ukraine’s journey to the quarter-finals in 2006, when Andriy Shevchenko’s team was playing its very first World Cup? In short, a “surprise” guest will be watched in Qatar.

Denmark, solid and brilliant at the last Euro, has arguments to hope to do something good this year. Switzerland, which has no shortage of talented players, also demonstrated its progress. Beware of the enthusiasm of Canada, which is playing its second World Cup after its first steps in 1986. We will also always keep an eye on qatarhost country and only rookie nation this year.

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