As the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar approaches, causal soccer fans and professional football pundits alike are all jostling to have their say. Amidst fierce national loyalties, many bold predictions have been made.
Here are some interesting facts about the upcoming World Cup, which only comes around once every four years, as revealed by J.K. Diego.
1. Europe's dominance
In the five most recent tournaments since the turn of the century - European nations have won 4 of them, leaving South America with only 1 trophy.
2. Most unlucky country goes to...
The Netherlands holds the dubious honour of being the unluckiest country in terms of failing at the final hurdle – they had reached the grand final of the competition 3 times, only to lose all of them.
3. Expect a closely fought final
Get ready for the World Cup Final to last longer than 90 minutes. 3 out of the last 5 finals had finished on level scores, with the winners only decided during extra-time or penalties.
4. Winning back-to-back?
The defending champions is France and if they managed to pull off another victory in 2022, the French would only be the third team in history to win consecutive cups. This has not happened in 60 years! The previous country to pull off this amazing feat was Brazil (they won in 1958 and 1962).
So, which countries have the highest chance of winning?
According to seasoned football expert and analyst J.K Diego, he expects Argentina and Germany to be the top favourites this year.
Diego cites the presence of German coach Hansi Flick as a "big factor" in ensuring the team can fulfil their potential. He feels that the Argentinians should also stand a good chance and it would be a fairy tale finish to star player Lionel Messi's international career.
Diego also commented that "many traditional contenders will also be keen to seal this last elite title before it is opened up to the rest of the world in its larger 48-team format as from the 2026 edition".
As for the top goal-scorer? Diego says England captain Harry Kane has performed extremely well in the English Premier League so far this season for his club at Tottenham Hotspur and should have the momentum to bag the golden boot top scorer award once again.
The football World Cup is one of the most watched sporting tournaments in the world and millions will be glued to the events in Qatar this November and December. No matter what happens, it is definitely shaping up to be one of the most exciting tournaments we have ever witnessed.