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The first FIFA World Cup took place in Uruguay in 1930 and has taken place every four years (apart from in 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War). The 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the 22nd edition of the tournament and there have been eight different winners during this time.
Uruguay also won the first World Cup in 1930 and became one of several host nations to have lifted the trophy. Other hosts to have won the title include Italy in 1934, England in 1966, West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978 and France in 1998.
The number of teams competing in the World Cup has grown over the years. At the first tournament in Uruguay, 13 teams took part, followed by 16 in Italy 1934, 15 at France 1938 and 13 in Brazil 1950. The tournament then settled on 16 participants from 1954 until 1978, before boosting to 24 teams from 1982 to 1994, and then up to 32 teams for France ’98. The 32-team format has continued since then, although the 2022 tournament in Qatar is set to be the last to follow this, with the 2026 World Cup scheduled to feature 48 teams from around the world.
Brazil is the most successful team in the tournament’s history having lifted the title five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002), while Germany and Italy have enjoyed four successes each. Amazingly, no team has successfully defended the title since Brazil did so in 1962 – which doesn’t bode well for France heading into 2022. Perhaps something to keep in mind when considering a bet for that tournament.
The World Cup has been somewhat unpredictable in recent years, with five different winners in the past five tournaments. What’s more, none of the teams that reached the semi-finals in 2014 again reached the semi-finals in 2018.
Another perhaps surprising fact is that no foreign coach has ever lifted the World Cup trophy, as all 21 winning teams have been managed by a coach from their own country. Most recently, Marcello Lippi won the title for Italy in 2006, Vicente del Bosque helped Spain to victory in 2010, Joachim Löw guided Germany in 2014, while in 2018 Didier Deschamps brought the trophy back to France 20 years after also doing so as a player.
While Brazil has the most wins to their name, Germany has shown the most consistency in the competition, reaching eight finals, and 13 semi-finals. That said, Brazil holds the impressive record of not only have played in every tournament (they are the only team to have done so), but also has reached the knockout stages of every tournament.
Germany’s Miroslav Klose is the World Cup’s all-time top scorer with 16 goals between 2002 and 2014, overtaking Ronaldo’s record of 15 goals from between 1994 and 2006. Surprisingly, neither Cristiano Ronaldo (seven goals) nor Lionel Messi (six goals) is likely to get close to this record, despite each having long been at the top of the game and having participated in four tournaments each.
Contrary to what you may think, there’s not a particularly strong correlation between the tournament’s top goalscorer and the winning team. Only three of the players to have won the Golden Boot outright also experienced team success that year. The fortunate few were Mario Kempe for Argentina in 1978, Paolo Rossi for Italy in 1982 and Ronaldo for Brazil in 2002. There have been a couple of players who have finished joint top scorer and won the World Cup too, though, with Da-vid Villa bagging five goals for Spain in 2010, while Garrincha and Vava scored four goals each as Brazil lifted the trophy in 1962.
Just three players have ever played at five different World Cup tournaments, although Cristiano Ronaldo will join them if he makes it to the Qatar World Cup at the age of 38. The impressive feat was first managed by Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal (1950-1966), followed by Lothar Matthäus for Germany (1982-1998) and another Mexican, Rafael Marquez (2002-2018). Gianluigi Buffon cruelly missed out on the chance to join them in 2018 after Italy was shocked by Sweden in the play-offs.
The youngest footballer ever to play at the tournament was Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside, who featured in the 1982 World Cup aged just 17 years and 41 days old. The oldest player is a record that is unlikely to be beaten soon after goalkeeper Essam El-Hadrary featured for Egypt at the age of 45 years and 161 days old at the 2018 World Cup.
Ireland didn’t qualify for a World Cup until 1990, before going on to qualify for three out of four World Cups up until 2002. Their performance stuttered after this though and The Boys in Green haven’t qualified since.
However, when Ireland has qualified for the World Cup, they’ve managed to reach the knockout stages on each occasion.
Ireland at 1990 World Cup
After reaching the World Cup for the first time in 1990, Ireland proved very hard to beat – so hard in fact, that their first four games ended in a draw during normal time.
In their opening game, the Green Army saw Kevin Sheedy score an equaliser to cancel out Gary Lineker’s earlier strike as they held England to a surprise draw. They then played out a goalless draw with Egypt, before Niall Quinn popped up with an equaliser against the Netherlands in the final game.
As the Netherlands had also drawn all three games – and by the same score lines as Ireland – the two teams had to be separated by their drawing pots in order to determine the second and third position in the group. Only one of the games in Group F ended in a victory, with England beating Egypt 1-0 in the final game, meaning the Three Lions topped the group, while the Egyptians finished bot-tom.
In the last 16, Ireland faced Romania but again played out a 0-0 draw. However, Ireland prevailed on penalties. In the quarter-finals, Ireland faced the host nation, Italy and narrowly lost 1-0.
Ireland at 1994 World Cup
Ireland returned immediately to the World Cup stage in 1994 and made a massive mark in their first game. They once again took on Italy, but this time reversed the 1-0 score line – shocking the world in the process. And despite losing their next game at the hands of Mexico, thanks to Ireland securing a goalless draw with Norway they ended up second place in the group. Again, it was a ridiculously close group, with all four teams ending on four points and an equal goal difference.
Unfortunately, a tough draw awaited Jack Charlton’s side, and they subsequently fell to a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the last 16.
Ireland at 2002 World Cup
After missing out on the 1998 World Cup in France, Mick McCarthy took his team to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. However, their tournament became overshadowed by a feud between McCarthy and the Irish captain, Roy Keane, who left the camp on the eve of the competition.
The Irish nevertheless did very well during the group stage, going unbeaten, with a 92nd minute Robbie Keane equaliser against Germany a particular highlight.
Ireland became undone in the last 16 once again. Despite another impressive performance and result – a 1-1 draw with Spain – the Spanish were to progress at the Irish expense after winning 3-2 on penalties.
The next FIFA World Cup rocks up in 2022 but expects things to be different. Not only is the tournament set to be played in the Middle East, but the tournament has also been moved to the winter for the first time in order to avoid the searing heat of the Qatari summer.
Therefore, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place from the 21st of November to 22nd December 2022. Also, as the tournament will take place during the regular European football season, the schedule has been trimmed down to a timeframe of just 28 days – making it the shortest World Cup since the 1978 tournament in Argentina.
Despite the condensed schedule, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will follow the same format as that used since 1998, with 32 teams taking part and a total of 64 matches being played.
Indeed, this is the last World Cup that plans to use this 32-team format, with the 2026 tournament taking place in Mexico, the United States and Canada planned to expand to 48 teams.
The 32 teams will be split into eight groups (A to H). When making the draw to determine the groups, the teams will be split into four pots. The top pot will be made up of the top seven ranking teams from around the world, plus the hosts Qatar. The remaining three pots will be primarily determined by ranking also while ensuring an even split of representatives from different continents in each group.
Once the groups are drawn, teams will play each other team in their group once, with three points awarded for a win and one point awarded for a draw. The top two teams from each group will then progress to the round of 16. If two teams are on equal points at the end of the group stage, their head-to-head record will be taken into account. If the sides drew, they will be split by first goal difference and, if they’re still equal, goals scored.
The last 16 stages will see each of the group winners face the runner-up from another group. Teams that met in the group, can’t meet again until the final. In the knockout stages, teams meet their opponent in a one-off match. If the match is level after 90 minutes, 30 minutes of extra time is played, and if the match is level after this, the game will head to penalties. This knockout format continues until the final, with the only extra match that takes place between losing sides coming in the third-place play-off which takes place before the final.
With a population of just over 2.6 million people and a landmass of just 11,581km², Qatar will be by far the smallest country to have ever hosted a World Cup. This does have some benefits though, with all of the venues being in the mid-west of the country – so the biggest distance be-tween any two stadiums is less than 60km (under 40 miles). This means that traveling between venues during the World Cup should be extremely easy for fans and teams alike.
Six of the eight stadiums that are planned to host World Cup games in Qatar are being built from scratch. The two remaining stadiums, the Al Rayyan Stadium and the Khalifa International Stadium are undergoing major renovations ahead of the tournament. Most of the stadiums are expected to have capacities of around 40,000, except for the Al Bayt Stadium which is planned to have 60,000 seats, while the Lusail Iconic Stadium – which will host the final – will have a capacity of around 86,000. All of the stadiums are being designed to feature hi-tech cooling systems in order to prevent players and fans from getting too hot.
Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Construction on the Lusail Iconic Stadium began in 2017, with the self-called iconic stadium expected to be completed in 2020. This will be by far the biggest venue in Qatar during the World Cup. However, the stadium will be reconfigured after the tournament, bringing the capacity down to about 40,000.
Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
The Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor will apparently take on an “asymmetrical seashell motif” in terms of its design. This will be the second biggest venue at the 2022 World Cup with a capacity of 60,000.
Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Built-in the middle of several university campuses, the appropriately named Education City Stadium holds 45,350 seated spectators. As this was one of the first stadiums to be completed, it played host to the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.
Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Rayyan
Officially known as the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, but more popularly known as the Al Rayyan Stadium, this arena was originally built in 2003. However, this stadium will also be transformed ahead of the World Cup, taking the capacity from 21,282 to 40,000.
Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Formerly known as the Al Wakrah Stadium, Al Janoub was the second stadium ready ahead of the World Cup, after the Khalifa International Stadium, opening in May 2019. The stadium also features a running track and will hold 40,000 fans during World Cup games, but this ground’s capacity will also be halved after the World Cup.
Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Doha
The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium in Doha is set to be the first every temporary World Cup stadium. Construction started in 2018 and it is expected to be finished in 2020 before it will again be dismantled after the tournament concludes. It will have a capacity of around 40,000.
Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
The Al Thumama Stadium in Doha will have a 40,000 capacity for the tournament, before half of the stadium’s seats will be removed and donated to development projects abroad after the World Cup. The space in which these seats had occupied will be turned into a 60-room hotel facing the pitch.
Khalifa International Stadium, Baaya
Having originally back in 1976, the Khalifa International Stadium is by far the most established stadium set to feature at the World Cup. The stadium underwent major renovations in 2005, as well as in 2017. In 2019, the stadium hosted two FIFA Club World Cup matches.
Qualification for the 2022 World Cup began in Asia in July 2019 and will continue across each continent until 2021. Africa will have five representatives, Asia four or five, Europe 13, CONCACAF (North and Central America and Caribbean) three or four teams, Oceania up to one team, and South America four or five teams. Asia and Oceania will feature an intercontinental playoff game, along with a play-off between a team from North/Central America and South America, in order to determine the extra places.
Qatar has never previously participated in a World Cup, but as hosts, they will automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup – and will also be placed in Pot 1 of the group stage draw – meaning they are likely to avoid any of the top teams.
Aside from the hosts, Qatar, there are a few teams that are expected to be in the running for the 22nd edition of the World Cup.
In Europe, the likes of Spain, Germany, France, and Italy have enjoyed huge success in the World Cup and account for half of all wins in the tournament. Only England, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil have also won the World Cup, with the last of Uruguay’s successes coming back in 1950 and England’s coming over 50 years ago. Brazil has a real World Cup pedigree and should never be ruled out, while Argentina has appeared in five finals – winning twice.
In addition to predictions about which teams are likely to participate, Mr Green has picked a few players which are expected to make a mark in Qatar:
After winning a World Cup at the age of just 19 – scoring four goals during the tournament in the process – Mbappe could feasibly win a second title in 2022 and at the age of just 23.
The striker is on course to break all sorts of records, after scoring more than 100 career goals before his 21st birthday, having also lifted three league titles (with two different teams) and also moved clubs for €135 million – the second-highest transfer fee of all-time.
With Cristiano Ronaldo edging towards retirement age, Portugal is on the lookout for a new talisman and Joao Felix is the perfect candidate.
He won the Golden Boy award in 2019 – the award is given to the best under-21 player playing in Europe – with previous winners of the accolade including the likes of Mbappe, Sterling, Pogba, Messi, Aguero, and Rooney.
At 19 years of age, he completed a €126 million transfer to Atletico Madrid following a hugely successful debut season with his boyhood club, Benfica, with whom he scored 15 goals in just 26 league appearances in the season previous.
Raheem Sterling’s progress in recent years has been huge. And he’ll turn just 28 during the 2022 World Cup – which should be right in the middle of his peak, in theory.
After he relatively struggled to reproduce his club form for the country in the early days of his career, all that changed in 2019, when Sterling scored eight goals in nine games – doubling the four goals he’d manage to plunder in his first 49 England caps.