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The best (Central) European squads at the Qatar 2022 World Cup

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Krakow, Poland – With five titles in their trophy cabinet, Brazil is the most successful World Cup team. Italy and Germany are not far away with four titles each, while current champions France, as well as past winners Argentina and Uruguay, own two titles. Spain and England follow the selective list with one win each. 

After tallying the totals, European squads have achieved more World Cup successes than any other continent. With the 2022 Qatar World Cup just around the corner, let’s preview this year’s most fearsome teams from Europe competing in this year’s tournament, and assess how Central Europeans might fare in the upcoming matches.

Poland

Poland is often thrown into the mix of underdogs who pose a threat during international soccer competitions. The Qatar 2022 World Cup will be no exception. Their recent ambiguous performances against Belgium and the Netherlands are making it difficult to know what to expect.

Poland did a great job in defeating Sweden during the World Cup playoffs and gave England a run for their money on two occasions but much, per usual, hangs on the co-tails of Robert Lewandowski.

The 34-year-old star striker isn’t slowing down, and all we needed to witness was his performances when moving from Bayern Munich to Barcelona this summer. The elite Pole is already proving his worth in La Liga and will unquestionably be a problem for multiple back lines at this year’s World Cup. Whether or not he’ll be able to lead his team to shock victories remains to be seen.

France

Following successive home defeats and two draws in June, France’s World Cup prospects are not as positive as manager Didier Deschamps would’ve hoped for. The defending world champions still own one of the most talent-rich squads in all international football, with players on and off the bench a worry for any team set to face them in the group stages of the competition.

Sports books have three main teams rotating as the most likely bet to win the tournament – Brazil, England, France – and of course, we’re seeing most betting sites hand France this honourable position.

With Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe leading the pack, France’s early exit from the Euro 2020 tournament might be an afterthought, and their revenge tour could provide instant gratification as they’ll face one of the most straightforward group stages from all the top-ranked teams.

Croatia

The last runner up in the World Cup guided by Real Madrid star Luka Modric, Croatia is trying to push to make it to the Championship previously lost to the French squad.

The Croatian team has numerous great members that helped the team made it to finals last time, including top-tier players like Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic. Commentators see an easy path for Croatia in the group stage, with maybe slight troubles with Belgium, but possibly easy wins against Morocco and Canada.

Netherlands

A nation once feared in international competitions, the threat from the Dutch died down in recent years. However, an unforgettable 4-1 success over Belgium in Brussels has unquestionably given hope to their fan base as they gear up for their first World Cup since 2014.

With the return of Louis van Gaal – the manager who led the Netherlands to the semi-finals in Brazil in 2014 – we could witness a similar run with a young squad that recently overcame Wales with last-minute goals twice in a week.

Spain

Claiming draws against Portugal and the Czech Republic before winning games versus Switzerland and the Czechs during the Nations League competition shows steady improvement in Spain, who took over that group stage standings.

The main concern for the Spaniards is their lack of goal-scoring prowess since winning the World Cup in 2010. That being said, a new generation spearheaded by Pedri and Gavi is providing hope for the future of Spanish football.

Belgium

Following their 4-1 defeat to the Netherlands, we saw Belgium respond in style with a six-goal thrashing of Poland. However, the country’s golden generation could be coming to an end.

Although the experience and strength of the Belgium team are undeniable, an aging defence makes it harder to see the team as a potential winner of the 2022 World Cup.

Portugal 

Since their Euro 2016 success, Ronaldo and his squad have struggled to display their true potential. There’s no questioning the talent level of this team but defeats to Switzerland in the Nations League, and a last-16 loss to Uruguay during the Russia 2018 World Cup are perhaps highlighting a lack of experience.

As it could be Ronaldo’s final major international tournament appearance, we should expect some on-pitch masterclasses from the Manchester United forward. Still, one man cannot win a World Cup, and he’ll need all the help he can get from his younger compadres.