DOHA, QATAR – Almost 80 years after the first World Cup 1930was a hard and fast rule when it came to predicting which part of the world the winner would come from.
It went like this. When the tournament was taking place in Europe, a European team was going to win. When it was in South America, a South American team was going to win. And if it was somewhere else, well, a South American team was going to win, even then.
The formula proved correct, time after time, with only one exception, when Pele’s brilliance Brought victory to Brazil. In Sweden in 1958 – although the teenage teacher’s performance was so spectacular that if the final had been held in Lapland, on the moon or underwater, his team might have lifted the trophy.
And although there were a couple of recent variations, in 2010 when Spain won the only World Cup. was held in Africa, and 2014, when a brilliant Germany squad beat Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals and outlasted Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the final, is still historic enough to note. There is precedent.
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“Geography gives an edge,” FOX soccer analyst and former USA defender Alexi Lalas told me. “It’s not as easy to say that if it’s in Europe, a European team is definitely going to win, but it’s definitely happened with a lot of regularity. I like how it’s shaping up this year. Everyone adapts to their own circumstances. Their own path and no one has an automatic advantage.”
A total of 21 World Cups have been held, 16 in Europe or South America. 14 of these were won by a representative of the host continent. Many who enjoy World Cup history also point to the two World Cups held in Central America (Mexico) and won by Brazil in 1970 and Argentina in 1986, cementing the trend.
So, what does it all mean at this point?
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Qatar can be seen as neutral territory when it comes to the favorites for the 2022 tournament.
The top eight nations in FIFA’s world rankings and oddsmakers’ list come from two of football’s most powerful continents. It would be a legitimate surprise if the eventual champions were anyone other than Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, England or the Netherlands.
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Factors like familiarity and subtle differences in climate and conditions are not much in play this time. Qatar desert Climate There isn’t much similarity in European or South American weather, although there is a school of thought that suggests southern European teams such as Spain and Portugal, and South American nations, may enjoy Qatar’s warmth a bit more. England and Germany.
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Indeed, if there is to be any benefit, it could help the five Asian Confederation teams – Qatar, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia – who have previously experienced competitive action in Qatar, expect. Perform better.
“Don’t be surprised if some Asian teams put up a strong performance,” former Iran assistant coach Dan Gaspar told me in a phone interview. “Many of these squads will be comfortable and familiar with what they find in Qatar and will have a good idea of what to expect.”
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If a new venue (this is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East) brings something unexpected, Lalas is looking forward to it.
“We may have a new status quo order,” Lala said. “Brazil and Argentina are my favourites, but while we always want to see who will win the tournament, for some countries to get out of the group and into the quarter-finals is an incredible achievement that has earned them the status of a football nation. gave
“In that sense, it’s wide open. We’re going to see some surprises, which is part of keeping the tournament dynamic.”