5 bold predictions for world football in 2022

In many ways, 2021 has been a landmark year for Canadian soccer.

The women’s team claimed gold at the Tokyo Olympics, while the men’s team alerted the rest of CONCACAF in the World Cup qualifiers.

Internationally, the past year has brought many surprises in store for us, including Italy crowned European champions and Chelsea winning their second UEFA Champions League title.

What will next year bring? Here are five bold predictions for world football in 2022:

1. Canada qualifies for the knockout stages of the World Cup

The Canadian men’s team’s only World Cup appearance dates back to 1986 in Mexico, when it lost in the group stage after suffering three straight shutout losses. Since then, Canada has come a long way from qualifying for the biggest sporting event on the planet. That will change next year as Canada gets its ticket to the 2022 World Cup.


But the Reds won’t be just spectators in Qatar, or just content to be back in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Carried by a talented generation of young attacking players, like Alphonso Davies, coach John Herdman’s team will strike well above their weight and do two things the Canadian team couldn’t in Mexico in 1986: score a goal and win a game. In addition, Canada will move out of its first round group and advance to the round of 16.

“The flair and fearlessness, and with guys like (Alphonso) Davies, (Jonathan) David and (Tajon) Buchanan, we’ve never had such a talented and dangerous team,” said Bob Lenarduzzi, Team Member of chopped off.

2. Toronto lands an NWSL expansion franchise

The National Women’s Soccer League is currently experiencing a tremendous period of growth. Racing Louisville debuted as the 10th club in the NWSL in 2021, and the league is expected to add two more teams next year when Los Angeles and San Diego start playing.

A number of US cities are currently looking to join the fray as expansion franchises, but 2022 will be the year the NWSL heads north and announces its first Canadian club.


Fan interest in women’s football has never been higher in this country following Canada’s gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Several members of the Canadian squad, including captain Christine Sinclair (who plays for the Portland Thorns in the NWSL) have publicly called on the league to add a Canadian club, while Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis is firmly committed to help the country land its first extension franchise.

“I am ready to say that I will work my best to get an NWSL team in Canada,” Bontis said after his election victory last November.

3. Croatia wins the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

After finishing third at the 1998 World Cup in France, Croatia experienced a period of drought coming out of the group stage in their next three appearances in the tournament and did not even qualify in 2010.

But the Croats reasserted themselves at the 2018 World Cup in Russia by finishing second to France, and continued with a strong performance in the round of 16 at Euro 2020 when they lost a blow to Spain. in overtime.

In 2022, Croatia will finally do well by winning the World Cup. Coach Zlatko Dalić’s side have just completed a sensational qualifying campaign in which they won seven of 10 games (with just one loss) and set one of the best defensive records (just four goals against) .

In addition, they have the mercurial Luka Modric who always pulls the strings of creativity in midfield. At 36, Modric plays one of the best footballers of his career, but the 2022 World Cup is probably his last chance to win anything with his national team. The Real Madrid star will continue to turn back time and lead his country to glory in Qatar.

4. Jonathan David transfers to FC Barcelona

At 21, Jonathan David has the world at his feet. The Ottawa product has become one of the most prominent young prospects in the world since his transfer from Belgian club Ghent to French club Lille OSC in the summer of 2020.

The Canadian forward thrived in France scoring at a steady pace and guiding Lille to a league title last season. He has also played a leading role in helping Lille advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League this season.

Top clubs across Europe have noticed David’s spiky form for Lille and are lining up to submit a transfer offer next summer, including a slew of England sides who have already been linked with the Canadiens.

But it will be FC Barcelona who will eventually win David, leader of the French championship with 11 goals. The Spanish giants have been having tough times in recent times, as they left this season’s Champions League in the group stage and sit seventh in the Spanish table, 15 points behind leaders and fierce rivals Real Madrid.

Barcelona are in desperate need of an overhaul, especially in attack as they have been lost up front since Lionel Messi left, while Sergio Aguero recently announced his retirement at 33 due to heart problems . the blaugrana will look to David and table a massive transfer offer to Lille in hopes the Canadian can help revitalize their failing fortunes.

5. Ajax win the UEFA Champions League

Bayern Munich and Liverpool were among the three teams to achieve a perfect 6-0 in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League group stage. This should come as no surprise, given their status as two of the biggest clubs in the world.


But would it surprise you to learn that the third team to have a perfect group stage record was Ajax? The modest Dutch club, who won the last of their four Champions League titles in 1995, have been sensational in the group stage, winning all six games with a combined score of 20-5.

Ajax also have the tournament’s top scorer this season, as hitherto unknown Ivorian striker Sébastien Haller exploded for 10 goals and became only the second player in Champions League history ( Cristiano Ronaldo was the other) to score in all six matches of one group. stage.

Ajax face Benfica in the round of 16, and it’s fair to assume the Dutch will rule out their Portuguese rivals. After that, the Amsterdamers will continue to ride their incredible wave of momentum and win their first European title in 27 years.

John Molinaro is one of Canada’s premier soccer journalists, having covered the game for over 20 years for multiple media including Sportsnet, CBC Sports and Sun Media. He is currently the editor of TFC Republic, a website devoted to in-depth coverage of Toronto FC and Canadian football. TFC République can be found here.

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