Lovers of international soccer are poised for a grandstand finish to the year with the FIFA World Cup coming from Qatar. The play - which was delayed by five months to help organisers avoid the dangerously high temperatures suffered in the region during the summer months of June and July - begins on 20th November, with the final played on 18th December. It’ll be strange watching a World Cup final after between bouts of Christmas shopping, and watching the game with a hot chocolate rather than a cold beer will take some getting used to for fans.
Brazil is the early betting favorite, with bookies offering World Cup outright odds to lovers of sports betting in Alabama and across the United States. Qatar 2022 promises to be the most-watched and most bet on World Cup ever seen due to improvements in the technology used to bring HD quality live streams to your smartphone. Changes to the laws regarding online gambling in the US also mean there will be millions more soccer fans making predictions and placing bets than we saw just four years ago in Moscow.
Will the Samba Boys live up to expectations and lift the World Cup before the end of 2022? That remains to be seen, but it is encouraging for fans of Brazil to see traders working at every major sportsbook price them as the team to beat. The market leaders and most likely champions of the world, according to bookies, sit just ahead of France, Argentina and England. Germany is many people’s dark horse of the tournament.
Despite being ranked as the World Cup’s most successful team, Brazil fans are enduring something of a drought, with the team unable to add to their World Cup haul in two decades of trying. The team’s last success came in 2002 in Korea and Japan, despite hosting the games at World Cup 2014 when the party came to Rio. Brazil was, again, the hot favorite to make home advantage count by most pundits, but the team failed to deliver.
We are itching to get started in Qatar as the World Cup visits the Arab World for the first time in its history. This will also be a first with the games not played during summer. Before getting into the World Cup mood and to help occupy us until the big kick-off, we take a look back at what happened in Rio eight years ago. Why didn’t Brazil live up to expectations, and which lessons can be learned from that failed attempt two World Cups ago?
Expectations were sky-high when the World Cup’s most successful team were chosen to host the competition. Most believed the Samba Boys held all the aces and their home advantage, coupled with the skill and calibre of players in the squad, meant the other teams in attendance just didn’t stand a chance. How wrong the doubters proved to be.
It all started off as it should, with Brazil winning Group A and progressing to the knockout stages ahead of runners-up Mexico. Croatia and Cameroon were dumped out of the running after a minimum of three games played. Brazil beat the Czech Republic 3-1, drew 0-0 with Mexico and hammered Cameroon 4-1. Moving to the knockout phase of play, Brazil drew Chile and was pushed all the way. That match ended 1-1 before the hosts won 3-2 on penalties, despite missing half of their first four kicks.
Advancing to the quarter-finals and having already come close to a shock exit in the Round of 16, Brazil beat Colombia 2-1 to move into the final four. The final score in that match suggested it was a competitive contest, but those who watched the play will remember Brazil racing into a 2-0 lead before taking their foot off the gas. But the run was to end at the next stage, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
Handed a semi-final match against Germany, the traders expected another tough match but with the locals squeaking through. Things didn’t go to plan. You can say that again, with Germany winning 7-1 to dump the Samba Boys out of their own tournament. Brazil eventually posted a fourth-place finish, losing 3-0 against the Netherlands in a playoff.