The FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022 is set to kick off on November 21st until the final on December 18 next year. Every four years the World Cup of Soccer unites the world in a celebration of the sport and the dreams of some of the best players in the world. National pride comes out in full force as fans are seen wearing their country's jerseys in the streets, bars have games on TV, and jobs even work half days so everyone can catch a game.
At the moment 13 nations have booked a ticket to the World Cup, they include World Cup champions France, Qatar as the host nation, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and surprise entry Serbia. Spain and the Netherlands round out a very able list of teams
One thing is for sure, the best talents in the world will be on display in Qatar in November 2022, and for one month the eyes of the world will be glued to their screens cheering every goal, every save, and cherishing all the memories left by the World Cup. Here are the players to look forward to in the World Cup of Qatar, who is in, who is out, and who is starting to pack their bags.
Star players that are confirmed for the World Cup in Qatar 2022
The biggest star to have already punched a ticket to Qatar 2022 is none other than Lionel Messi. The Argentina captain already got the monkey off his back winning the Copa America with Argentina against archrivals Brazil. Messi will be 35 in Qatar, and he will look to finally lead Argentina to their third World Cup title. Fellow PSG teammate Neymar was the first to qualify from South America. Brazil under Tite is a machine, having not lost any games during World Cup qualifying in South America. Neymar has won one Confederations Cup with Brazil and will look to add the World Cup to his rather short list of titles with the five-time world champions.
In Europe the playing field is almost set with 10 teams already in from UEFA, most important of them all is defending world champions France which will feature Kylian Mbappé who was a breakout star in the 2018 World Cup. In Germany fans can look forward to seeing legendary Bayern Munich forward Thomas Müller, who has the 2014 World Cup winners medal to mark as his own. Belgium has a list of some of the most exciting soccer players in the world, but none is more revered than Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne with his crisp passing and great vision.
Often questioned Barcelona forward Memphis Depay and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk will lead the Netherlands back to the World Cup after missing out in 2018. For Spain, the 2010 champions, they have placed their hopes for a second title on Juventus forward Álvaro Morata who is deadly in front of goal, while England, a squad filled with young up and coming players will look to finally get a second title with Harry Kane leading the charge.
The second-tier stars of the World Cup will be Croatia’s Luka Modrić who at 36 still has a lot in the tank, although it will be hard for Croatia to repeat as finalist of this World Cup. One of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, Kasper Schmeichel will backstop Denmark to yet another World Cup appearance, for Switzerland star player Xherdan Shaqiri will get a chance to play in his fourth World Cup. Aleksandar Mitrović of Serbia will lead the charge for a very talented Serbian team that is back at the World Cup. Host Qatar have a major star to keep an eye on and that is Akram Afif who has 21 goals in 66 games for Qatar and delighted fans at the Gold Cup this past summer.
Stars who are not going or in danger of missing out on the World Cup in 2022
Not all is good news as Qatar 2022 will not have one of the world’s most magnetic players and that is Erling Haaland. Norway, who only lost two games in qualifying, finished third in their group and consequently did not qualify even to the playoff round.
Then there is the case of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani who have dropped four straight matches and are in danger of missing the tournament altogether. While Chile with Alexi Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are also out of qualifying positions as La Roja have a tough set of games remaining on their schedule.
In Europe Cristiano Ronaldo will need to win a playoff round with Portugal to get to another tournament. Other well-known players such as Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gareth Bale, and goal machine Robert Lewandowski are all in the same boat.
Italy is a particular case. The Italians were pegged as a World Cup favorite, but the Euro Cup winners finished second behind Switzerland, having not lost any games and will need to win a playoff game to enter the tournament. Italy will look towards the leadership of Leonardo Bonucci to get them through the playoffs.
In Africa all eyes are on Egypt and Mohamed Salah who will need a playoff victory to get to the World Cup. Salah is one of the most popular players in the world.
Players who are packing their bags
In Concacaf, barring a disaster, four national teams look set to qualify directly or play a playoff round, the question is who? USA, Mexico, Canada, and Panama all seem on their way and have a lot of leg room in the standings. For the USMNT it would be the chance to show a young squad that has Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, and Sergiño Dest that playing at the biggest clubs in the world is not in vain. While Mexico is set to feature a talented front three in Jesús Corona, Hirving Lozano, and Raúl Jiménez.
For Canada it’s the prospect of having a player of the caliber of Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies representing the nation at the biggest stage, while Cyle Larin and Tajon Buchanan are players to watch. The World Cup is right around the corner, and these are the checklist of stars that will be in the tournament, out of the cup, and soon to be backing their bags.