Two of the B’s reporters — Theo Au-Yeung and Alex Kelly — have done their best to predict the results of the group stage below. (Theo Au-Yeung)
Two of the B’s reporters — Theo Au-Yeung and Alex Kelly — have done their best to predict the results of the group stage below.

Theo Au-Yeung

World Cup 2022 Predictions

November 22, 2022

The World Cup is always full of historic moments, shocking upsets and iconic performances. Whether it’s Zinedine Zidane headbutting an opponent in the 2006 Final, Andres Iniesta’s World Cup winning goal in 2010, Mario Goetze’s goal in the final of 2014 or Ronaldo’s iconic free kick against Spain in 2018, the tournament never disappoints for billions of viewers worldwide. Brackets will be busted, dreams will be shattered and history will be made. 

But putting all uncertainty aside, two of the B’s reporters — Theo Au-Yeung and Alex Kelly — have done their best to predict the results of the group stage below.

All 32 teams are randomly separated into eight groups of four. In each group, each team plays the other three teams once. First and second place advance to the knockout stage, which begins with the round of 16. First place in Group A faces second place in Group B, second place in A faces first in B and so on. The winners advance to the quarterfinals, then to the semifinals, and finally to the finals.

Group A – Theo

Netherlands+enters+Group+A+as+favorites+followed+by+Senegal.

Theo Au-Yeung

Netherlands enters Group A as favorites followed by Senegal.

Ecuador, Netherlands , Senegal , Qatar

On paper, this is one of the least challenging groups in this year’s World Cup, but there will still be exciting games and potential upsets. As host, Qatar will hope to make it through the group stage — 20 of the last 21 World Cup host nations have made it to the round of 16 — But Qatar doesn’t have a remote chance of getting through to the knockout stage and will likely finish last in the group. The Netherlands, without a doubt, are the strongest squad in this group and should be able to finish first with ease. They have two defensive rocks in Virgil van Djik and Matthijs de Ligt and plenty of young talent up front in attack. Senegal has lost their best player and leader Sadio Mane to injury and despite the talent they have in other areas of their squad, the team faces an uphill battle to make it out of the group stage. Their biggest challenge will come from Ecuador, who have the capacity to wreak havoc in this group. Moses Caceido will play a huge role in controlling the midfield for Ecuador and the veteran attacker Enner Valencia will provide experience and leadership as a big-bodied target man up front. They will also have the benefit of having one of the easier groups of teams to play against. Ecuador versus Senegal will be an important matchup for Group A.

Group B – Alex

England+enters+Group+B+as+favorites+followed+by+Wales.

Theo Au-Yeung

England enters Group B as favorites followed by Wales.

England , Iran, USA, Wales

Group B is the group of political tensions and rivalries — England, United States, Iran and Wales each have a strenuous relationship with another country in the group. But this is the World Cup, and we’re not here to talk about politics (despite the Qatari sportswashing). This England team have been on the cusp of greatness in their last two major international tournaments, as they made the semifinals at the last World Cup and fell on penalties to Italy in the European Championship 2020 final. England are certainly contenders for the trophy, and should finish first in the group. USA are entering a golden generation, with one of the youngest teams at the tournament and numerous up-and-coming players. Their talent on the attack and in midfield will be crucial to their success, and Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna will look to lead the USA out of the group and maybe even further. Wales will be the USA’s main contender for second place in the group. Wales have a strong defense, and their talisman winger Gareth Bale always poses a threat on the attack. This is the first time Wales has made the World Cup since 1958, and they are looking to make this appearance count. But, as a fan and critic, I have the U.S. edging them out for the second spot in the group. Iran is the final team in the group, and they are compact and will look to exploit opportunities on the counter attack with Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun up top, but will find a tough path forward to the knockout stages.

Group C – Alex

Argentina+enters+Group+C+as+favorites+followed+by+a+tie+between+Mexico+and+Poland.

Theo Au-Yeung

Argentina enters Group C as favorites followed by a tie between Mexico and Poland.

Argentina , Mexico , Poland , Saudi Arabia

One spot of this group is all but guaranteed to go to Argentina, and the other should be a battle between Poland and Mexico. Argentina is one of the best teams in the world right now, if not the best, and have perhaps the game’s greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi. This is Messi’s last chance to be a major player on an Argentine team who could win the World Cup; with their strength and 36-match unbeaten streak, they should stroll to the top of the group. The battle for second place is much more interesting here. Poland is resting their hopes on another great player, Robert Lewandowski. Despite the Polish striker’s prolific goal-scoring record, he has yet to perform for Poland at the World Cup, as they fell out of the World Cup in Russia with no goals from Lewandowski. If he can score, Poland will go through, but that’s a big if. Mexico is a very different team to Poland. The fast-paced, traditionally sound team has been undergoing some turmoil recently as they lost three matches to the U.S. in 2022. Fans have been calling for the firing of manager Tata Martino. Despite the unrest, expect Mexican stars like Hirving Lozano to play a fast, aggressive style that could push them past Poland. Saudi Arabia expected to go 0-3, so even getting a result out of any of these matches would be a triumph for them. The Mexico-Poland matchup will likely be the crucial game in Group C.

Group D – Alex

France+enters+Group+D+as+favorites+followed+by+Denmark.

Theo Au-Yeung

France enters Group D as favorites followed by Denmark.

Australia, Denmark , France , Tunisia

It’s the group of cool nicknames: Les Bleus, the Danish Dynamite, the Socceroos and the Carthage Eagles. Notably, three of the four teams were also in a group together at the 2018 World Cup. First up is Les Bleus — not the coolest of nicknames, but probably the most talented of the four. France is the defending champion, and retains much of the talent from four years ago. However, there are certainly some questions that remain unanswered: midfielder stalwarts Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante are both out with injury, and the odds are stacked against them: four of the last five World Cup champions have failed to make it out of the group stage. Even so, France’s strong center back core and world-class attack led by Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe should see them finish at the top of the group. Denmark, or the Danish Dynamite, are firing on all cylinders after a deep run to the semifinals of the 2021 European Championships. Their talisman Christian Eriksen is in great form for his club and Denmark’s well-rounded team could make a surprising run in the tournament. The Socceroos of Australia and the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia are not expected to trouble either of the two European teams. Australia qualified through the international playoff on penalties versus Peru, and they will need their goalkeeper Mat Ryan to pull off a miracle or two if they have any chance of qualifying for the next round. Tunisia are a very defensive-minded team, so expect them to try to eke out a draw against the top teams, and maybe they can exit the group with some favorable results.

Group E – Alex

Spain+enters+Group+E+as+favorites+followed+by+Germany.

Theo Au-Yeung

Spain enters Group E as favorites followed by Germany.

Costa Rica, Germany , Spain , Japan

This group has two contenders to go all the way. Spain will almost certainly play some of the best soccer at the World Cup. International soccer is often cagey —  teams will sit in and play on the counter — but this Spain team looks to break down their opposition through long spells of possession with the ball. If they can get their striker Alvaro Morata to finish the chances presented to them, they will make a deep run and beat Germany to first in this group. Germany is another great team, and they have one of the best coaches at the tournament, ex-Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick. Flick took over in 2021 and has quickly turned this team around after a Round of 16 exit at the European Championships of  2021 and a group stage exit in 2018. Between talented youngster Jamal Musiala, a prime Joshua Kimmich and veteran Thomas Muller, Germany have a midfield core to make any team worried. Japan would be a dark horse for the World Cup if they had been put in any other group. They have a strong team that likes to press high and get up the field quickly, which could in particular cause Spain some trouble in defense, and maybe get Japan a victory over the Red Fury. But even with their stellar kits, they likely won’t reach the knockout phase of the tournament. Costa Rica has had a long road to get to Qatar, going through the international playoff against New Zealand. They won’t go down without a fight, but it’s likely they will fall to three superior teams in the group.

Group F – Theo

Belgium+enters+Group+F+as+favorites+followed+by+Croatia.

Theo Au-Yeung

Belgium enters Group F as favorites followed by Croatia.

Belgium , Canada, Croatia , Morocco

All four teams in Group F possess impressive talent, making it the toughest group to predict. Croatia is coming off a loss in the final of the 2018 World Cup and will have the benefit of experience, as many of their core players from their 2018 run return this year. Croatia sports one of the strongest midfield groups in the tournament, with Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic. They have the potential to win this group over a Belgian team that time and time again has failed to capitalize on their talent. It is beginning to feel that Belgium’s “Golden Generation” is waning. Core players like Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are much older and not the star players they used to be. Belgium still have the best midfielder in the world in Kevin DeBruyne, who will no doubt carry this team to the best of his ability, but there is no denying that Belgium is not the squad they once were. While I think they will still sneak into second place in the group, they could easily slip to third or even fourth place if they are not careful. Canada is back on the big stage for the first time since 1986, and they will be led by young stars Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David. Canada will be a fun team to root for, but their lack of depth beyond Davies and David could limit how far they go. Morocco, on the other hand, is down on their luck, having been drawn into what is most likely the “group of death.” They went undefeated in qualifying for the World Cup and are easily one of the best African teams in the tournament. Morocco has plenty of talent, with playmaking wizard Hakim Ziyech — who will play despite his recent fall out with manager Walid Regruagui — striker Youssef En-Neysiri and speedy right back Achraf Hakimi. Both Morocco and Canada possess the talent to potentially knock one of the big teams out of the tournament.

Group G – Theo

Brazil+enters+Group+G+as+favorites+followed+by+Switzerland.

Theo Au-Yeung

Brazil enters Group G as favorites followed by Switzerland.

Brazil , Cameroon, Serbia, Switzerland

Brazil enters this tournament as a favorite. They boast the strongest roster in the tournament with incredible depth, and should win this group easily. The fight for second place will likely be a tight race between Serbia and Switzerland. The match between Serbia and Switzerland could end up being one of the most entertaining early matches, as both teams battle it out to sneak through to the knockout stage. Serbia has no shortage of attacking players, with star goalscorers Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic leading up front. Serbia are known for their physical style of play and direct attacking approach, emphasizing the use of their wingbacks in attack to produce crosses into the box. Never count out Switzerland though: they shocked France through penalties in the European Championship last year, showing that they are capable of beating the top squads. Again, the match against Serbia will be the biggest deciding factor in whether they are able to go through, especially since Switzerland will still have to face Brazil. Serbia’s physical and attacking presence may overwhelm the Swiss despite their emphasis on a defensive approach. Cameroon is an interesting team to keep an eye on. While they could potentially pull off an upset against Switzerland or Serbia, this group may be ultimately too tough for them.

Group H – Theo

Portugal+enters+Group+H+as+favorites+followed+by+Uruguay.

Theo Au-Yeung

Portugal enters Group H as favorites followed by Uruguay.

Ghana, Portugal , South Korea, Uruguay

Group H likely has the highest stakes in the tournament. Most likely, second place in Group H would have to play Brazil, potentially the toughest matchup in the tournament, while first place would play Serbia, giving them a much easier chance of making a deep run in the tournament. Portugal has one of their best rosters of the past decade, which says a lot given their victories in the 2016 European Championship and the 2018-19 Nations League. However, Ronaldo is seemingly no longer the player he used to be. The goal scoring ability remains, but his value is limited beyond that. Portugal’s manager Fernando Santos has repeatedly been criticized for his conservative attacking approach, despite the incredible players he has up front. If Santos is able to make that adjustment this time around, Portugal could be a dangerous team. Uruguay, on the other hand, are a dark horse in this tournament. Players like Louis Suarez and Federico Valverde will lead an attacking-heavy squad. Their defense is less reliable, and their struggles to keep hold of possession might hold them back in this group. As for South Korea, they shocked the world in 2018 to defeat and eliminate Germany, the 2014 champs, 2-0 in the group stage. Once again, they will be led by star winger Heung Min Son, but it may not be enough to secure a spot in the knockouts. Ghana will be looking to get their revenge against Uruguay after a blatant handball by Luis Suarez in 2010 prevented them from becoming the first African team to ever reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. This year, Ghana has the youngest team in the tournament. Their lack of experience and talent will most likely keep them from making it out of the group stage. 

Golden Boot Predictions:

Theo – Lautaro Martinez

Martinez will have the benefit of playing alongside Lionel Messi, who is one of, if not the best, ball distributors in the world. Messi leads Ligue 1 with 10 assists for Paris Saint Germain, and Martinez playing up front will surely be able to cash in on Messi’s passing. 

Alex – Gabriel Jesus

Jesus will be the focal point of an electric Brazil attack that should score goals left and right at this tournament. Look to see Jesus build off his outstanding club performance for Arsenal right now and attempt to lead his country to glory. 

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About the Contributors
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Theo Au-Yeung, Staff Reporter

Theo Au-Yeung is a senior at Burlingame and this is his first year in Journalism. Theo also plays baseball for Burlingame, and in his free time, he enjoys...

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Alex Kelly, Business Manager

Alex Kelly is a senior at Burlingame and this is his third year in Journalism. He is excited to be leading the B this year in their business endeavors....

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