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The favourites to win the World Cup

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup is on the horizon and predictions for the tournament are in full swing. Group victors, shock early exits, dark horses; we’ve got it all figured out…until we don’t.

While many are rightfully decrying the Qatari World Cup, there’s no doubt that the football on the field at least will be entertaining.

We’ve got a multitude of potential contenders for World Cup glory in 2022. Sure, there are favourites but there are a number of teams that could feasibly triumph in Qatar.

Here’s a ranking of the current favourites to win the 2022 World Cup.

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10. Uruguay

Uruguay are a dark horse in Qatar / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Uruguay are heading into Qatar with several of their key players bang in form. Midfield tandem Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur are playing some of the best football of their young careers, while the chaotic Darwin Nunez is bound to cause a few issues for teams.

Veteran forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani remain serviceable options, and their presence will be key for this relatively youthful Uruguay squad.

The balance of Diego Alonso’s team has thrust them into this top ten and they should be buoyed by the returns of star defenders Jose Maria Gimenez and Ronald Araujo. Left-back Matias Oliveira is developing nicely at Napoli, also.

Uruguay are certainly a side to keep an eye on.

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9. Denmark

Christian Eriksen
Denmark’s talisman / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Denmark may not be blessed with the talent of the world’s strongest footballing nations, but they’re coached like a club side and their squad breeds harmony.

Kasper Hjulmand has done an excellent job with the national team and he’ll be looking to build on their semi-final finish at Euro 2020.

Denmark are one of the form nations heading into the tournament. Their verticality and intensity has the capacity to overwhelm opponents – presuming they can maintain the energy levels they’ve often displayed over the last few years.


8. Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to play a big role for Portugal at the World Cup / Zed Jameson/MB Media/GettyImages

Not too many people are talking about Portugal as a potential favourite, but their squad is laden with world class talent.

Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, and Bernardo Silva make up a Manchester City dominated spine – which is never a bad thing. Those three are complemented by budding superstar Rafael Leao, Bruno Fernandes, and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manager Fernando Santos is a CR7 loyalist and the maligned Manchester United forward will start every game in Qatar. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen.

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7. Netherlands

Louis Van Gaal, Jurrien Timber, Davy Klaassen, Marten De Roon, Nathan Ake
Louis van Gaal at his second World Cup in 2022 / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Like Denmark, the Netherlands emanate unity but they’re blessed with superior personnel and a manager with World Cup experience in Louis van Gaal.

While the Dutch failed to qualify for the tournament four years ago, they boast an impressive World Cup record without ever winning the competition.

Van Gaal is blessed with the talismanic Memphis Depay in attack, a versatile midfield, and a talented defence marshalled by the great Virgil van Dijk. They’re going to be a tough nut to crack in Qatar, that’s for sure.


6. Germany

Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick has certainly improved Germany since succeeding Jogi Low. / Christina Pahnke – sampics/GettyImages

Hansi Flick’s revolution with Die Mannschaft has somewhat stalled. While Germany are undoubtedly better now than what they were during the backend of Jogi Low’s tenure, they perhaps aren’t in the position they wanted to be in heading into the World Cup.

Jamal Musiala is poised to enjoy a standout tournament, but the form of Flick’s other forwards heading into the competition will concern supporters.

Are Germany blessed with the requisite firepower to go all the way?

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We’re not so sure.


5. Spain

Pablo Martin Paez Gaviria 'Gavi', Eric Garcia, Pedri
Pedri (R) and Gavi (C) are two of Europe’s best young midfielders / David Ramos/GettyImages

Spain surprised a fair few by just how good they were at Euro 2020. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows since, but Luis Enrique remains, arguably, the best coach in international football and he’s collected a group of players that are all willing to buy into his ideals.

Spain are capable of playing with the telepathy of an elite club side – that’s what we saw at the Euros. However, they do lack a reliable outlet and are vulnerable in defence. They’re reliant on Enrique’s excellent structure to ensure a rather uninspiring backline is kept out of danger.

Their midfield is majestic, however. The technical supremacy they possess in the middle of the park means they can control any game they’re involved in, and that goes a long way to winning football matches.


4. France

Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba
No Pogba, no party? / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

France’s talent and the depth they possess in certain positions is just absurd. The 2018 champions are understandably among the favourites but there are a couple of reasons why they don’t crack our top three.

Firstly, do you know how hard it is to win a World Cup? Let alone two in a row. We haven’t seen a back-to-back winner since 1962.

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It just doesn’t happen anymore.

Moreover, mutiny never seems to be too far away from breaking out with the French squad at a World Cup, and Didier Deschamps will be heading into the tournament without the engine room that steered them to glory in Russia.

Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are both huge losses to this French side.


3. England

Gareth Southgate
This will likely be Gareth Southgate’s last major tournament as England boss / Visionhaus/GettyImages

‘ENGLAND THIRD!? DID YOU NOT SEE ‘EM IN THE NATIONS LEAGUE?’

Relax guys, the ludicrously scheduled 2022 UEFA Nations League shouldn’t be taken for gospel heading into the tournament. Yes, England were dire throughout the recent campaign, but Gareth Southgate’s side are built to win tournament football matches.

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It’s functional and bereft of style despite their excellent personnel, but Southgate’s pragmatism has helped the Three Lions reach the semi-finals and final at their last two major tournament outings.


2. Argentina

Lionel Messi, Rodrigo De Paul, Giovani Lo Celso
The GOAT has an impressive supporting cast / Elsa/GettyImages

There’s little to separate the two current favourites, who both come from South America.

There’s nothing a romantic football fan wants more this winter than to see Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup aloft to officially crown himself as the greatest footballer we’ve ever seen.

Messi’s side are well-placed to do so and they should benefit from a rather kind group stage draw. This is the best Argentina side in decades and they’ll be looking to round off a golden era – which started with the capture of the Copa America in 2021 – in Qatar.


1. Brazil

Neymar Jr
Neymar will spearhead Brazil’s charge for glory in Qatar / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

There’s a distinct and growing feeling that this may well be Brazil’s time. The Seleção haven’t lifted the World Cup in 20 years and have disappointed at the tournament ever since.

However, Tite is blessed with a group of players that’ll be determined to not let that happen this time around.

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The Brazilians play with an exuberance and synergy that very few can match, but they’re also compact in midfield and defensively sound. Brazil are a formidable outfit and rightfully many people’s favourite to go all the way in Qatar.

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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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EPL

Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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EPL

Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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