The 2022 World Cup is well and truly underway in Qatar with the world witnessing some exciting games and a couple of upsets already.
In the opening round of fixtures, Saudi Arabia and Japan have shocked Argentina and Germany respectively to impact their chances of qualifying from their groups, while England, France and Brazil are among the powerhouses to have started the tournament with wins.
There are certain to be more surprises and shocks as the tournament progresses and enters the knockout rounds, but for now, let us look at the three teams that look favourites to win the World Cup after the first round of games.
Spain have looked perhaps the most impressive side at the World Cup thus far, dismantling Costa Rica 7-0 in their World Cup opener.
The Spaniards were 3-0 to the good at the break, playing some lovely stuff across the pitch and carving Costa Rica open many times. They added four more goals in the second half to romp to their heaviest-ever World Cup victory.
The win over Costa Rica was not only the best start Luis Enrique could have imagined at the World Cup but it also laid down a marker to their rivals in Qatar.
France have kicked off their title defence in near flawless fashion, winning 4-1 against Australia and followed it up with a 2-1 win over Denmark thus progressing to the Round of 16.
Les Blues have underperformed in the UEFA Nations League over the summer and didn’t enjoy the best of starts against Australia, conceding within the first nine minutes to Craig Goodwin. But the French team—without the likes of Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba—turned it around emphatically through a brace from Olivier Giroud, and goals from Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe.
Some of France’s best performances under Didier Deschamps over the years have come against teams that try to take the game to them, giving the French side an opportunity to cut them open with their speed, intensity and counter-pressing. The Socceroos, by doing so, paid the ultimate price against the defending world champions.
The pre-tournament favourites of fans, neutrals and critics alike, Brazil have enjoyed a solid start to their World Cup campaign, beating Serbia 2-0.
It took the Selecao a while to get going, but when they did, Serbia had no answers whatsoever on a night that Richarlison made his own. After scoring a scrappy opening goal, Richarlison’s second goal was all about skill, timing, technique, precision and improvisation.
Brazil also went on to hit the woodwork twice and could have scored more on another day. But against a well-drilled, disciplined and physical Serbian side, Tite’s side showed they have the quality, class, depth and individuals who can turn games on its head at any given time.