Picking a World Cup winner is often a battle between who you think will win and who you want to win, and this year will be no different. While Brazil and France are the most crowded teams in the tournament, there will be soccer fans at home rooting for Argentina’s Lionel Messi or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo to win what will be their last World Cup.
We asked our star-studded panel of soccer analysts here at FOX Sports for their picks for the World Cup Finals, as well as a dark horse team they can see making a deep run. This is what they said.
Who is your rival to win the World Cup?
Doug McIntyre: The last dark horse to win a World Cup was West Germany in 1954. It’s not something that just happens. After all, only eight teams have lifted this beautiful gold trophy in the competition’s 92-year history. That’s why I’m going with Germany as the dark horse this year.
Picking a four-time champion may seem like cheating, but nobody seems to expect Die Mannschaft to add title number 5 on December 18. At +1000, FOXBet.com gives them the sixth best odds in the 32-nation field. I would wear it all day. On current form, the Germans look to have a better chance than some of the teams ahead of them, notably the perennially overrated England and injury-hit headliners France.
Martin Rogers: Denmark have the cohesion and wit to go deep, as we saw at the Euros. Really win it? This is a stretch. Expect the winner to come from one of the four favorites, as usual.
Landon Donovan: England. Nobody expects them to succeed, but they have enough quality to win it all.
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Carly Lloyd: Denmark. After a successful Euro 2020 and Christian Eriksen’s recovery from his collapse and cardiac arrest, they are hungry to win and inspire. Kasper Hjulmand has the tactical flexibility within his squad. Eriksen is in great form and will appreciate every moment on the pitch knowing how fragile life can be. This will give heart and confidence to the team.
Aly Wagner: Swiss. I think when you look at their recent results in the Nations League and you look at their potential trajectory. If they progress second in their group, I think they will go into a relatively easy side of the group. I think it’s a manageable path for them. [Granit] Xhaka has been in incredible form, you have good experience in this team. I think this group has the potential to upset and go beyond expectations.
Stu Holden: Out of the usual names, I’ll say Uruguay. Darwin Núñez is one of the best attacking talents in the world and with the experience of Luis Suárez he will cause great defensive problems for teams. Federico Valverde is playing some of the best football of his career, and they are always solid defensively.
Chad Johnson: Senegal. They are in a good moment and have managed to get out of the Africa Cup of Nations. They have a bunch of veterans and they play well together.
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Alexi Lalas breaks down three things we need to know about Senegal.
Kelly Smith: Uruguay They have young players in good form, with a midfield of Valverde and Bentancur, and Núñez up front, while there is serious experience at the back. Uruguay are tough, organized and full of quality and will want to send [Edinson] Cavani and Suárez leave with a bang.
Mauritius Edu: Netherlands. Despite the talent they have in their squad… [Virgil] Van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo, etc. — I don’t consider them one of the favorites. They failed to qualify in 2018, so they will have a point to prove this time around under manager Louis Van Gaal, who led them to a third-place finish in 2014.
Coby Jones: Senegal. This is a semi-golden generation for the African champions with top talent in every position and Sadio Mané leading the attack.
Eniola Aluko: Portugal. They have a very experienced squad with some outstanding young players such as Rafael Leaõ who has been a very exciting player for AC Milan. christian [Ronaldo] he will lead the way I’m sure and will have a lot to prove given his frustrations at Manchester United this season. Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Neves, Ruben Dias and Joao Felix are also top players.
[Which Cristiano Ronaldo will show up for Portugal at World Cup 2022?]
Warren Barton: Senegal are one of my dark horses to do well, but I don’t know if they can win it, so I’m looking at someone like Spain. They are not France, they are not Belgium; they are not Brazil, they are not Argentina. I think Luis Enrique can do it with this team and these players. He has done a good job, he is a proven winner at club level and an excellent coach.
Who will play to win the World Cup final and who will win it?
McIntyre: As much as I’d love Messi to win a World Cup, Brazil have been my pick to win it all since the summer, and I’m sticking with it. I think they beat the Albiceleste in an all-South American semi-final. On the other side of the squad I’m going with Germany, who can win any World Cup they enter. Die Mannschaft could enjoy the unfamiliar role of underdogs.
Rogers: MeIf the big teams win their groups, the top half of the category becomes an absolute gauntlet. The lower half becomes more open. Let’s go with a delicious Spain-Portugal clash to decide everything.
Donovan: France vs Brazil and Brazil will win.
Lloyd: Argentina will lift the trophy.
Wagner: I think I will go to Brazil and Germany with Germany second.
Holden: Argentina against France, and Argentina win the World Cup.
Johnson: I think it will be France and Argentina with Argentina winning it all. I don’t think you can ever count on Messi and this squad.
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Alexi Lalas explains three things you need to know about Argentina.
Smith: England vs Brazil final with Brazil winning. I think Brazil have the most talented team with exciting attacking players. They are very exciting to watch and I think they will in this World Cup.
Education: Messi and Argentina lift the trophy after beating a strong French team in the final!
Aluko: Argentina vs England. I would love for England to win but England have key defensive injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell with limited forwards to support Harry Kane. I only see Argentina winning if this is the final, but I hope I’m wrong.
Barton: My favorites are Brazil, to go on and win it, but I think Belgium can win it. Kevin de Bruyne, the way he’s playing, they can get there.
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