Brazil winners? Belgium to flop? Pundits’ World Cup predictions


Ahead of the opening World Cup fixture between hosts Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday, the Sky Sports pundits have made their predictions on what will happen at the unique tournament.

Winners

Jamie Carragher – Argentina

“It was either Brazil or Argentina. They are the two favourites, but I would love to see Messi win the World Cup. I feel that would cement his position as the greatest player of all time.”

Karen Carney – Brazil

“I’ve got a soft spot for them, to be honest – but if you look at their attacking players, they are just a joy to watch. Everyone talks about Messi’s last one, but it could be Neymar’s as well. I think Argentina could meet Brazil in the semi-final so it comes down to whoever wins that.”

Jamie Redknapp – Brazil

“Neymar’s in great form again – I have gone with Brazil as I feel it could be their time again.”

Paul Pogba with the World Cup
Image: Paul Pogba lifted the World Cup with France in 2018

Gary Neville – Brazil

“We always feel we have got great players in this country and we do, but when you look at the Brazil squad you think, ‘Oh my God – where have they come from?’ It was the same when I was playing in tournaments. They had incredibly special players. I’m quite confident they will win it.”

Runners-up

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his side's opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup
Image: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his side’s opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup

Jamie Carragher – Portugal

Karen Carney – Spain

“In the Euros, they went out to Italy, and I think it’s their possession of the ball which will take them close. They eventually lost to Italy on penalties, and their young players are phenomenal in midfield. Their manager Luis Enrique is really experienced so they only thing that concerns me is goalscoring, but I back them to keep the ball.

“They have won the World Cup previously without a striker so I don’t see it being any different.”

Vicente Del Bosque lifts the World Cup with Spain in 2010
Image: Vicente Del Bosque lifts the World Cup with Spain in 2010

Gary Neville – France

Jamie Redknapp – Spain

England

Jamie Carragher – Quarter-finals

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Gary Neville believes Gareth Southgate has banked himself credit from previous tournaments and says Southgate has earned the right to decide if he wants to stay as England manager, should they fail at the 2022 World Cup

Gary Neville – Quarter-finals

“It’s dangerous to predict where the pathways of teams are going to go, but it looks like England are going to do what they think they will in the group, and France do the same, they would meet in the quarters and I just don’t think they would beat France.

“But this is the one manager and one group of players who I think can put a performance together and hang in there – and they can also win on penalties. I do think there’s a chance, but I think France will be stronger in the quarters.”

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Gary Neville, Karen Carney, Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher give their predictions on who they believe will start for England in their first match against Iran, and who will be most valuable for Southgate throughout the tournament

Jamie Redknapp – Quarter-finals

“I think England’s performance in the Nations League has dampened everybody’s expectations. I just hope I’m wrong and we get a bit of momentum and start to play. I hope we can get that belief and real confidence in these players, then anything is possible because I do believe it’s a wide-open tournament.

“When you look at the possible champions, you have people thinking France could win it, but they have problems in midfield. It’s going to take a bit of momentum for me to get excited.”

Karen Carney – Semi-finals

“I think this is the most we can hope for. With (Paul) Pogba and (N’Golo) Kante out, I feel this is why we might progress past France. After then, it’s pot luck but we’d be happy. Of course, we would want to get to the final but realistically getting to the semi-finals would be good.”

Wales

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Wales manager Rob Page believes this is the most squad depth his team has had over recent years heading into the World Cup

Karen Carney – Round of 16

Jamie Carragher – Group Stages

“I just think in terms of the two special players they have had in the last couple of tournaments in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, they are getting a bit older and it might be the last time we see them in a Welsh shirt.

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Daniel James and Harry Wilson describe how excited they are to be heading to the World Cup with Wales and insist they are not going to Qatar to make up the numbers

“I think Bale will go down as one of the greatest British players of all time with the Champions League titles and being the player of the year a few times in England, as well as what he’s done for Wales taking them into tournaments.

“I just feel with the energy and the intensity of this USA team may be too much for them.”

Jamie Redknapp – Round of 16

Gary Neville – Group Stages

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The World Cup preview show panel discuss England’s World Cup opponents in Group B and analyse how far Iran, USA and Wales can go in Qatar

Surprise package

Jamie Carragher – Denmark

“Denmark are in France’s group, and they played each other not so long ago and beat them. If Denmark finish top of that group, France could then play Argentina in the first knockout stage.”

Karen Carney – Spain

Jamie Redknapp – Senegal

Sadio Mane will miss the first games of the World Cup with injury
Image: Senegal’s Sadio Mane will miss the first games of the World Cup with injury

Gary Neville – Denmark

Jamie Redknapp – Senegal

“I like them and I feel they have got some talented players with pace in the team. They are exciting. I don’t think they will go deep into the tournament but it’s not really a surprise if Spain do well.”

Surprise early exit

Karen Carney – Belgium

Jamie Carragher – Belgium

“They have been a great team and Roberto Martinez has done fantastically well – they finished third in the last World Cup but I just feel it’s a step too far. Romelu Lukaku hasn’t played for weeks, even months. I’m not sure he’s played this weekend for Inter Milan either. I feel they could be the surprise package to go out.”

Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku
Image: Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are going to the World Cup with Belgium

Jamie Redknapp – Belgium

Gary Neville – Uruguay

Top Goalscorer

Karen Carney – Lionel Messi

Jamie Redknapp – Lautaro Martinez

“Whoever wins the Golden Boot usually scores a lot of goals in their group games. Argentina have got Saudi Arabia in their group so that’s why I’ve gone for them.

“Harry Kane has a great opportunity as well when you look at the fixtures, starting against Iran. No one has ever won back-to-back Golden Boots so it would be great to see him do that. Martinez will get goals for Argentina.”

France's Kylian Mbappe, left, leaves the field after half time of the UEFA Nations League soccer match between France and Croatia at the Stade de France in Saint Denis near Paris, Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Image: Kylian Mbappe won the World Cup with France in 2018 – and is tipped for big things again this year

Gary Neville – Kylian Mbappe

Jamie Carragher – Lautaro Martinez

Player of the Tournament

Karen Carney – Neymar

“I think Argentina and Brazil will meet in the semi-finals and so I think it’s a battle between Messi and Neymar. Whoever wins that battle, for me, will be player of the tournament.”

Gary Neville – Neymar

Jamie Carragher – Messi

Jamie Redknapp – Neymar

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