The Men’s World Cup takes place this winter
Brazil and France are the pre-tournament betting favourites
Read below for our FIFA World Cup 2022 predictions
World Cup Final Prediction - Argentina vs France Betting Tips
To many, this is a legacy-defining 90 minutes for Lionel Messi. On the other side of the contest, Kylian Mbappé is within striking distance of a second World Cup winners’ medal at 23 years old as he builds a CV which could easily see him stake a claim as the best player of his generation.
This World Cup final is coated in unavoidable narrative. Argentina’s non-Messi players will be talked down regardless of the outcome.
France’s experience will be noted if they are victorious, even if it glosses over the peril that they have overcome to reach this final.
Neither team is perfect, which is the beauty of international football, but there is a sense Argentina are more of a collective than this French team.
Didier Deschamps’ side have reached back-to-back World Cup finals. A great achievement, no doubt, Les Bleus have an immense amount of talent, allowing them to succeed despite injuries to four probable starters.
Yet, their defence is clearly a weakness. Morocco created more than enough chances to score in the semi-final, and they were the lesser team against England.
France do not exhibit the same control over matches they had four years ago, when Deschamps limited opponents and relied on the sheer talent of his attacking players.
Argentina, instead, follow that blueprint. They are tied with Brazil for the fewest expected goals conceded per 90 throughout this tournament.
Scaloni has changed shape to good effect. The only time their defence has appeared shaken was when Louis van Gaal sent the giants on for Netherlands’ late, long-ball barrage.
Julian Alvarez has proved a perfect foil for Messi where Lautaro Martinez was unable to deliver. Amid the gushing over Messi’s performances, the midfield has been too often forgotten about, but Argentina have a winning blend of ball-winning and creation.
At the back, they are rock solid. France will inevitably create chances, and Mbappé is a matchup unlike any other, but Argentina have rarely given opponents a sniff at this World Cup.
The Antoine Griezmann evolution has been a standout story of this tournament, with the Atletico man transitioning from forward to midfielder. The absences of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba have been compensated for, too.
France, though, have been thriving in a certain degree of chaos. England so nearly made them pay for being so open, and Argentina clearly have the individual talent to do so.
Argentina are the better value of the two to lift the trophy. France have been there and done it, but it is not like La Albiceleste are unfamiliar with high stakes matches.
For many, Messi is already the greatest of all-time. His doubters have repeatedly pointed to Diego Maradona’s World Cup heroics.
This is Messi’s chance to eliminate that argument forever, and his form in Qatar suggests he is ready to tick off the greatest achievement of all. Messi to score and Argentina to win or draw is the pick at 19/10.
Ste: In many ways Qatar ’22 has produced its dream final, pitting the greatest player of the 21st century against his heir apparent.
Add in an intriguing sub-plot that has both players on five goals, and therefore dueling it out for the Golden Boot, and all eyes will be on Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe this Sunday afternoon.
If Croatia against Morocco would have been the fairy tale final for the romantics, this is an all-action blockbuster for the masses, and though it’s often the way that such momentous games see its best players hyped and focused on, in this instance our star-struck infatuation is entirely justified.
Because all tournament long Messi and Mbappe have been spellbinding.
No other player has taken on more shots than the PSG pair nor, it almost inevitably follows, shots on target.
No-one comes close to either of them for dribbles completed, and only Ousmane Dembele comes into their orbit when it comes to chances created. Between them they have five assists.
Naturally then, the celestial pair feature heavily in the betting, with both priced at 7/5 to have two or more shots on target. Take your pick here as each bet entices.
Messi is marginally shorter odds (13/8) to his club team-mate to score anytime but with a combined 85 goals for club and country in 2022, again it comes down to personal preference, each choice legitimate.
Messi to convert from the spot at 11/2 also jumps out, as too does a tempting 19/2 to back Mbappe to score from outside the box.
It’s worth noting that the 23-year-old already has a World Cup final goal on his C.V. bagging a fourth for France when they thumped Croatia in Russia ’18.
Broadening our scope, there is barely a fraction separating the teams in the World Cup winner odds and this doesn’t surprise considering that Les Bleus has all the pedigree, and Argentina has all the promise.
La Albiceleste last failed to get on the score-sheet 16 fixtures back and with clever industry in midfield bolstering a forward line of Messi the GOAT and Julian Alvarez they are to be seriously fancied in Lusail.
France however also possess a formidable array of attacking threats, with Antoine Griezmann criminally held back until 380 words in before being mentioned here, and if this makes picking an outright winner a difficult call, it steers us instead to the goals market.
Over 2.5 goals is offered up at 27/20 while France’s long-standing habit of scoring beyond the hour-mark makes their 2/1 to win the second half a decent shout too.
Traditionally, this zenith of the footballing calendar tends to err on the side of caution, with three goalless stalemates since 1994 and four finals going into extra-time.
A six-goal thriller four years ago though may have broken that curse and with so much forward-thinking talent on display there is every chance that an end-to-end classic awaits, even if the arch-pragmatists Argentina do all they can to prevent that.
Let the Messi and Mbappe show begin.
World Cup Tournament Betting Tips
The Men’s World Cup is the biggest story in football betting odds this winter.
Deciding to host the tournament in Qatar was controversial, and it has meant a considerable rejigging of the calendar, but when November rolls around, the excitement for the World Cup will be as visible as ever.
Online betting tabs Brazil and reigning champions France as favourites. England, Germany, Spain and Argentina are four teams in the next group of contenders.
Let’s dive into some FIFA World Cup 2022 predictions.
Senegal win Group A
A popular World Cup odds pick after their AFCON triumph, Senegal head into the 2022 World Cup with a collection of top-end talent, led by Premier League stars Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy.
The Netherlands are their main Group A rivals, with neither Qatar or Ecuador expected to cause many problems for the top two.
Louis Van Gaal has experience navigating major tournaments, but there have been some disappointing results for the Oranje over the last few years.
Winning the group is well within reach for the Lions of Teranga. Perhaps they can even stage an upset or two in the knockout rounds as well.
Croatia fail to make the knockouts
Matched up with Belgium, Canada and Morocco in the group stage, Croatia are favoured to make it into the last 16.
Luka Modric and co are not the side they were four years ago, though, and it isn’t an outlandish football prediction to pick them to play just three games at the 2022 World Cup.
Morocco aren’t the same threat without Hakim Ziyech, yet they still have experience and a decent squad. Canada are on the upswing, and their high-energy, young team could cause real problems for Croatia and/or Belgium.
Modric has shown he’s still a master in midfield, but this is an ageing team. They are far more likely to fall in the group stage than reach the last eight.
Harry Kane wins Golden Boot
Back in international action and playing the best football of his life, it’s remarkable that Harry Kane isn’t the Golden Boot favourite for the tournament.
Having clinched the Golden Boot award in Russia four years ago, Kane is one of the most prolific strikers in world football and the Tottenham man will thrive as England's main man.
If the Three Lions hit the ground running, a deep run to the latter stages of the competition could be on the cards and Kane will be the spearhead of the attack. Throw in the fact that he takes penalties and that makes Kane a favourable betting prospect.
Serbia qualify from Group G
Group G is the deepest at the 2022 World Cup. Brazil should progress as winners, but there will be fierce competition between Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon for the second spot.
The Serbians stunned Portugal to qualify automatically, and they have a squad which strikes that happy medium between experience and peak-aged core players.
Dusan Tadic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Dusan Vlahovic provide the star power, but the depth of Dragan Stojković’s squad shouldn’t be overlooked.
Positive results against Switzerland and Cameroon will be enough to reach the World Cup knockouts for the first time since 1998.
Belgium fall in Last 16
Matched up with Group E, Belgium will almost certainly be facing Spain or Germany in the second round.
That’s a rough draw for Kevin De Bruyne and co, who have a catalogue of questions to answer before the tournament gets underway in November.
With a defence that is impossible to trust and uncertainty over Romelu Lukaku’s form, Belgium are unlikely to get past a well-drilled Spain side or a talented Germany. A last 16 exit awaits.
England don’t concede in Groups
England have kept clean sheets in 13 of their last 18 matches. Gareth Southgate’s approach to tournament football is well-known.
The Three Lions will prioritise limiting opposition chances, even if Southgate is criticised for the style of play.
Facing Iran, the USA and one of Scotland, Wales and Ukraine, England should win all three group matches comfortably. It might not be thrilling, but three wins to nil is a likely, efficient outcome.
Lionel Messi adds another Golden Ball
Not only can Lionel Messi dominate Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Poland in the group stage. He’s got a potentially favourable draw into the knockout rounds as well, providing Argentina take of business and win Group C.
Messi has come in for criticism for some of his PSG performances. He’s not quite as explosive, but when the moment demands, he’s still got every ounce of magic he had a few years ago.
Watch for Messi to put his nation on his back once again and pick up a second World Cup Golden Ball.
Jude Bellingham wins Best Young Player
There should be no question about Jude Bellingham’s place in England’s best XI.
The Borussia Dortmund man is unlikely to move clubs this summer, but his ability should earn a spot alongside Declan Rice despite Gareth Southgate’s hesitancy to pick players from abroad.
England are once again looking at a deep tournament run. Bellingham is one of the best young players on the planet.
Rivals for Best Young Player are dealing with injuries or face greater competition for minutes – Bellingham can follow in Kylian Mbappe’s footsteps and win the award.
Hugo Lloris wins Golden Glove
With over 130 caps to his name and a World Cup winners’ medal, Hugo Lloris will not be fazed by tournament football.
Occasionally susceptible to errors, Lloris is still an elite goalkeeper and has the ability to pull off mind-bending saves.
Just as Karim Benzema’s Golden Boot chances are enhanced by the likelihood of France reaching the last four, Lloris is going to have plenty of opportunity to prove himself as the best goalkeeper in the tournament.
Brazil disappoint again
While Brazil benefited from the draw, there should be scepticism about this team heading into the tournament.
The last two World Cups have ended in humiliation and disappointment at the hands of Germany and Belgium respectively.
The Seleção still have one of the better squads at the 2022 World Cup, but there is immense pressure on Neymar to deliver in what is his last World Cup at his peak.
Brazil haven’t made the final of a World Cup since 2002, and the weight of expectation grows exponentially heavier with each passing tournament.
Of course, disappointment is relative, but finishing with anything but a sixth World Cup would be a let down.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*