Soccer Friendlies Give Hints at What’s Coming in the FIFA World Cup This Month

Starting on Sunday, November 20, a little more than a week away, soccer fans around the world find a spot in their living rooms, bars or stadiums to watch the FIFA 2022 World Cup. They’ll stay there until the largest soccer competition wraps up on December 18. However, the teams are, little by little, preparing the best of their payrolls to capture the championship.

The Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar
The Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar
The Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar at dusk. The stadium will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup beginning later this month. (Image: Getty Images)

Over the next few days and waiting for the completion of the local leagues and cups, several national teams will play preparatory matches. Some resemble rivalries that will be found in Qatar, but there are also national teams that will not participate in the tournament. Instead, these will begin the process of planning for the qualifiers for the next World Cup coming to the US, Canada and Mexico in 2026.

One of the matches to follow will be that of Portugal and Nigeria on November 17. Portugal is in the World Cup, and its performance against Nigeria, who isn’t, could be an indication of what to expect when it faces Ghana a week later.

Soccer Friendlies Offer World Cup Prelude

There are four friendlies today, of which half of the teams will participate in the World Cup. The first is Cameroon vs. Jamaica, and both will make appearances later this month. Cameroon faces Switzerland on November 24, while Jamaica will miss out following a poor showing in the qualifiers.

Cameroon is the clear favorite to win today’s friendly, getting -175 on Sportium. Jamaica is a long shot at +450.

Qatar is the host and the opening act of the World Cup championship. It’s going to warm up today in a friendly match against Albania, whose players will be among those looking for bar stools to watch the competitions.

Qatar is way out in front to win today, getting -175 on Sportium. On the other hand, it would take a miracle for Albania to overcome its +550 underdog odds.

Iraq, after a long battle on the field and in the political arena, tried to find a spot in the World Cup, but came up short. It will meet Mexico in a friendly that has the Central American team enjoying a comfortable lead. Mexico’s odds are -250, while Iraq is a distant +750.

The last friendly for today has Costa Rica facing Nigeria. Costa Rica has fought hard to get to where it is, and will take on Spain on November 23 to open its World Cup show. It’s getting -175 to beat its rivals today, while Nigeria limps in at +475.

After the four matches today, the excitement will only continue to build. The next several days include friendlies from qualifiers and non-qualifiers, and all of them will play a role in how bookmakers set the World Cup lines.

World Cup Misses

There have been some awesome World Cup matches over the years, but there have also been some surprising misses. The teams that perform the best aren’t necessarily the ones to capture the trophy.

In the 1938 World Cup, Just Fontaine picked up a record 13 goals for France. However, it wasn’t enough to hoist the trophy – that honor went to Italy for its second consecutive win. France would wait another 60 years before capturing its first title.

Iván Zamorano is inarguably one of the best strikers to ever come out of Chile. Still, in spite of his best efforts, neither he nor the Chilean national team has won a World Cup.

Although it has had several deep runs that included players like Hugo Sánchez, Mexico is still waiting for its first championship. Perhaps playing on its own field in 2026 will give it a push.

The closest Bulgaria came to winning the World Cup was in 1994, when it made it to the semifinals. However, not even having Ballon d’Or winner Hristo Stoichokov was enough to push the team through to the end.

The last three World Cups have been won by Spain, Germany and France in 2010, 2014 and 2018, respectively. It’s a different ballgame this year, with a lot more international talent coming to the fields in Qatar. As a result, there will be a couple of shockers as the action gets underway.

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