The first ever winter World Cup, and the first to be hosted in the Middle-East, is now less than 100 days away. Much of the excitement about the competition is generated from the fact that it takes place only once every 4 years. For the average international player that means they probably get two chances to compete in their prime, or three if they are very lucky. In many cases, due to injury or failure to qualify, professional players often get just one shot at the biggest prize in football.
And despite the excitement and anticipation, one thing that remains constant about the World Cup is often its predictability. While picking a winner at the start is difficult, it can be narrowed down to a very small number of countries. The map below is quite something and illustrates the winners of the competition since the first World Cup in 1930 - there have been just 8.
While the level of competitive balance is high within games, the general outcome is often not. The top six teams in the betting for the 2022 instalment are Brazil, France, England, Argentina, Spain and Germany. All six are coloured in the map above. It's highly likely that after the 2022 World Cup the countries coloured grey now will still be grey. Unless someone like Belgium, Netherlands or Portugal can pull a surprise.
European teams are also chasing an unprecedented 5-in-a-row. Brazil were the last non-European winners back in 2002. Prior to this the trophy had been traded between South America and Europe from 1962 to 2006. Spain broke this in 2010 winning the competition on the back of Italy's win in 2006. It remains to be seen whether a country outside of UEFA can take the trophy away from Europe's tight grip.