Flashscore editors’ World Cup predictions: Who will win and what surprises to expect?

Flashscore editors’ World Cup predictions: Who will win and what surprises to expect?
Flashscore editors’ World Cup predictions: Who will win and what surprises to expect?
Flashscore editors’ World Cup predictions: Who will win and what surprises to expect?
The World Cup is right around the corner and despite the controversies surrounding the tournament, it won’t be long before football takes centre stage. Thirty-two nations will do battle in Qatar, but who will come out on top and who will spring the biggest surprise?

Our global editors give their picks and we want to hear from you - let us know your predictions via social media.


David Pávek (Senior Editor): Brazil

It’s been 20 years since a non-European team has won the World Cup (or even finished in the top three), and I believe this is the year it changes. While many are expecting Argentina to go all the way in Messi’s last dance at the big international stage, my choice would be Brazil.

They have an experienced defensive core and two absolutely top class goalies and there’s no question about the quality of their attack - Tite’s biggest headache will be who to leave out of the front three.

Josh Donaldson (Senior Editor): Argentina

A team that seems to be piquing at the right time - they have been the perennial bridesmaids at the last few World Cups, most notably in Brazil eight years ago. After last year’s Copa America success, they seem to be ready for the next step.

Obviously, Lionel Messi’s tournament will be pivotal to the side’s success and given it is probably his last chance to win, this will mean so much more. But the side are brimming with confidence given their historic 35-match unbeaten streak and they have a group they should easily breeze through.

Alongside Messi is a squad with both depth and experience in club and international football - they will be tough to beat in Qatar.

Pat Dempsey (Editor): The Netherlands 

The Netherlands have steadily been building a very talented and conveniently underrated team under the wise tutelage of iconic coach Louis Van Gaal, who took them to third place at their last World Cup appearance in 2014.

Their recent form has been quite eye-catching. In the Nations League they beat Belgium twice this year.

Favourably, they have a pretty easy path to a potential quarterfinal place. Not so favourably, in order to reach the final they would likely have to beat both Argentina and Brazil along the way, provided the South American giants win their groups. It’s a long shot but there’s just something about the combination of that weird and wily old master in the dugout and this exciting batch of Dutchmen that makes me think that one of the great smaller nations of football could finally go the distance and win a World Cup.

Tolga Akdeniz (Editor): Brazil

On paper, there probably isn’t a stronger team. Top players in every position, and it’s just hard to find any clear weakness. They have so many options in attack, and Neymar has been in utterly scintillating form for PSG.

Of course they have a strong back five, but their midfield is overlooked too. Casemiro has proven himself to be the best holding midfielder in the world for years, while Fred has formed a strong partnership with him. Lucas Paqueta and Bruno Guimaraes ooze class too. A team will have to go some way to beating them.

Michel Jreissati (Editor): Argentina

It would just be the perfect ending to Lionel Messi’s majestic football journey, at 35 he has won almost everything. Constantly criticised by home supporters for not bringing a trophy in the Albiceleste colours, which dimmed down after the Copa America triumph, however, to cement his legacy winning El Mundial in Qatar would the perfect denouement that football owes La Pulga.

Moreover, the team seem to be finding its best form in a while. Enjoying their longest unbeaten streak ever, Lionel Scaloni’s men could not have asked for better momentum going into the World Cup.


DP: Jude Bellingham, MVP

Perhaps not a very bold and surprising choice for English fans, but my pick anyway. In a squad full of Premier League players, I expect the only ‘outsider’ to shine the brightest. At only 19 years of age, Bellingham has been a key player and leader of Dortmund, even captaining the side on several occasions.

A creative and ambitious player, he will certainly look to transfer his brilliant form to the biggest stage. Expect him to be THE star of Gareth Southgate’s team, and perhaps the entire tournament.

JD: Ghana
Ghanaian teams at World Cups have had heartbreak historically, but they come into this World Cup with a young squad full of quality.

They are in a tough group alongside Uruguay - a tasty tie given the 2010 controversy - Portugal and South Korea, but this could be their time to get out of the group and put a run together.

Look out for Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams. He is a potent striker with bags of pace who will undoubtedly cause defences trouble in the tournament.

Another surprising aspect of this is that he could face brother Nico in the knockout rounds after the younger Williams declared for Spain and made Luis Enrique’s squad.

PD: Japan

Japan has a tricky group which includes Spain and Germany (as well as Costa Rica) but both of those European heavyweights have flattered to deceive of late. Japan had an impressive qualifying campaign in Asia and have built a well-oiled team with plenty of players established in good European leagues.

I can see them surprising at this tournament and sneaking out of their group with a win over either of Spain or Germany.

If that happens, they could well go on to meet Croatia or Belgium, who knocked them out at the last World Cup at the round of 16 stage. They’ve never reached the quarter final of a World Cup before but I think this could be their year.

TA: Uruguay 

Uruguay have historically been a top team, but not many are thinking they can do much in this tournament. I think they could potentially reach the semi-finals. They have a lot of quality in their side that could take them a long way.

Fede Valverde has been one of the best players in the world this season, and alongside him in midfield, Rodrigo Bentancur has been a shining light in a bleak Spurs team.

I accept that Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are past their best, but in a knockout competition, they could still possess that extra bit of quality and know-how to win games.

Darwin Nunez’s all-action style will be fun to watch up front. The manager, Diego Alonso, is one of the more inexperienced managers though, but does boast a 78% win percentage. They could be the surprise package of the tournament.

MJ: Netherlands

After a long absence and a series of disappointments, the Dutch side is back with a familiar face in Louis Van Gaal in the dugout.

He returns for the third time after spells in 2000 and 2012, bringing nostalgia and a new young and not necessarily big names-filled squad but one that applies the LVG system efficiently bringing results and with so much to prove, eyes will have to be kept on them.

Will it be third time the charm?


DP: Lautaro Martinez

With my initial pick Karim Benzema unfortunately picking up an injury one day before the start of the tournament, I'm backing a not-so-obvious choice.

The Inter striker is a part of an insanely packed offense of Argentina, who are among the favourites to go all the way. The Argentinians are undefeated for three years and score a lot of goals in every match, and I believe they will only turn up the heat at the tournament. Surely Lionel Messi will be on top form, but I believe it will be his younger teammate, a leader of Inter's offense for several years, who will back Argentina's strong run with the most goals.

JD: Harry Kane

For England, there is only one striker and one talisman that will lead their line - Harry Kane. The Tottenham striker was the leading goal scorer at last year’s World Cup and given that England rely on set pieces to score goals, he is one of their best weapons.

England may not be in as good form as their last two tournaments, but they have got to a semi-final and a final in the last four years. If they can put their plan together again, they will go deep in the tournament and that only gives Kane more chances to score.

Everything goes through him and expect him to net at least three in the group stage alone.

PD: Kylian Mbappe 

Historically, six or seven goals is enough to top the goal-scoring charts at a World Cup. To get there, it really helps to go deep in the tournament and have the chance to play weaker sides along the way to fill up your boots. France will probably go quite deep in this tournament and I can see Mbappe running riot against the likes of Australia and Tunisia.

A hat-trick against the sorry Socceroos would set him nicely to go one better than last World Cup and top the charts.

TA: Harry Kane

I think the top scorer in this competition will be the player who can feast on the teams in the group stage the most, and I think Kane will do just that.

He is the current World Cup Golden Boot holder, scored four goals in the Euros last year, and he will definitely fancy his chances of filling his bag against the USA, Wales and Iran.

He could potentially face Senegal in the Round of 16 too, which will present more opportunities for him. Not to mention that he has been in brilliant goal scoring form for Tottenham too.

MJ: Neymar

The Brazilian announced that the World Cup in Qatar might just be his last one and this is a forward with a lot to prove. In the 2014 edition, playing at home, his journey was cut short due to a serious injury that set him off for a while.

Followed by another disappointing one in 2018 where his performances and attitude were widely criticised.

The 2022 World Cup might just be his last chance for redemption and clearing his reputation that has been on a rollercoaster during the last few years. Moreover, his personal results as well as of the Brazilian side have been more than positive, providing more fuel to an already ambitious Neymar.


DP: France

I’m not necessarily saying they won’t make it out of the group, but still - for the reigning world champions, anything less than a medal will be a disappointment. And I don’t think they’re getting their hands on the medals in Qatar.

Of course, France’s squad depth is still incredible, but their team now has way more issues than the one that took home the trophy four years ago.

N’Golo Kante, the midfield workhorse, will be missing because of an injury, just like Paul Pogba, who was the best player of the World Cup winning side. Not sure Adrien Rabiot, a player who was almost made redundant by improving yet still shaky Juventus, can replace either of them. The defence, which has proven surprisingly leaky in recent outings, will be missing one of its key parts, injured PSG centre back Presnel Kimpembe. And to make matters worse, Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema got injured and will miss the tournament too, dealing a huge blow to France's offense. The way I see it, the problems outweigh the strengths and France won’t get near a title defence in Qatar.

JD: Germany

One of the most successful teams in the World Cup's history, Germany have struggled in major tournaments of late. In 2018, they failed to get out of the group and were beaten by old rivals England in the knockouts at last year's Euros.

Their group this time around seems straightforward on paper, but a defeat against Spain will put them in the firing line of Japan and Costa Rica. Their attacking options are not as strong as in previous tournaments, with Niclas Fullkrug (29) and Youssoufa Moukoko (18), yet to win a competitive cap for the national side, vying for a starting berth.

At the back, they have an ageing Manuel Neuer, who has proven falable in recent years and a backline not settled at the moment - Hansi Flick has more questions than answers before the tournament starts.

This could easily be the fate of Spain as well given the importance of a win in that game to decide Group E - but even if Germany make it out of the group, it feels unlikely that they can repeat the feat of eight years ago.

PD: England

Gareth Southgate’s England side have gone from strength to strength in recent tournaments, getting to the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup and then the final at last summer’s Euros. The natural progression of that trajectory would be to win this year’s World Cup. 

Unfortunately, despite an array of brilliant young players, England have somewhat stalled in their development under Southgate. They were really poor in the Nations League this year. They didn’t win a single game out of six - a run which included a shocking home thrashing at the hands of Hungary. As a result, they were embarrassingly relegated down to League B. 

They really should make it out of their Group in Qatar but it’s certainly not a given with three tricky fixtures in there. Even if they do cruise through those, it’s hard to see them going deep in this tournament, however. I hope Southgate somehow finds the key to unlock the undouted creative potential of what is one of the most exciting generations of attacking players England has ever produced. Unfortunately, I think they will be a disappointment this time around.

TA: Portugal

There is absolutely no doubt that they are blessed with incredible quality throughout the team, but there’s a few big issues which have been holding them back for years, and could be even more damaging this time around.

Fernando Santos is incapable of managing the players he has at his disposal. I don’t think you’ll find many Portugal fans who actually want him at the helm anymore. The football they play is utterly woeful, and they don’t play like a team who have Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Bruno Fernandes and Rafael Leao, to name just a few. Their Euro 2016 win was as fortunate as it comes, finishing third in the group without winning a game, when the rules were different regarding third place teams. They also failed to win a game inside 90 minutes in the whole tournament, besides the semi-final.

The Cristiano Ronaldo conundrum isn’t just a Manchester United thing either. At the terrifying risk of angering him and hurting his pride, Portugal would be a far better side without him, and they would be able to utilise all their young, attacking talent. The team is built around a player who just isn’t that good anymore, and they can’t play a high-intensity, attacking style with him moping around up top. We have seen that players like Bruno Fernandes suffer when he is on the pitch too. His ridiculous interview can’t have done much for team morale either.

It would come as absolutely no surprise to me if they struggled in their pretty competitive group with Ghana and South Korea, and also an exciting looking Uruguay team. In all likelihood, they should make it out, but an entirely possible second place finish would probably see them come up Brazil in the Round of 16, and their journey would end there. Even if they top their group, a contest against an efficient and really solid Switzerland team - who knocked out France in the Euros last year - would be far from easy. I struggle to see this Portuguese side, who will have expectations of going on to win the whole tournament, get past the quarter-finals, if they even reach that stage.

MJ: France

The champions' curse on its own should lead to enough pessimism but just in case you needed to reduce hope, well no problem, a list of injuries comes through.

An early exit in the Euro 2021 started answering a very important question, has this generation peaked in 2018? 

Well, the return of Karim Benzema sparked a lot of hope, especially with the Nations League victory,it seemeed like the striker was making up for all the time lost. However, the Ballon d'Or winner has been added to a list of injured stars, joining the likes of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante who have anchored the French midfield for a while now. In defence, and it's not like he has been in the greatest form, Raphael Varane has also been ruled out.

All of this leaves immense pressure on the remaining regulars and especially manager Didier Deschamps who is prone to overthinking his decisions and producing a disappointing tournament.