With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar opening Sunday, a collection of theScore's footy editors are breaking out the crystal balls and offering up some predictions for the tournament.
Most excited about …
Michael J. Chandler: Playing in his final World Cup, Lionel Messi has a great chance to capture the lone accolade that's escaped his grasp. Argentina boasts a fortuitous group draw and arguably its deepest and most balanced squad in recent years. That combination could help the 35-year-old icon reach the summit of international football.
Anthony Lopopolo: Canada's World Cup opener against Belgium on Wednesday will draw millions of viewers as the men's national team plays in a major tournament for the first time in many Canadians' lives. Even if Canada fails to reach the knockout phase, any and all achievements – a first World Cup goal, a first clean sheet, a first point – will be celebrated back home.
Gianluca Nesci: With Messi playing in his last World Cup and Cristiano Ronaldo likely to follow suit – even if he'll never admit it – this tournament will see several of world football's emerging phenoms step into the limelight in a passing of the torch. There has never been a more exciting collection of young players converging on a single World Cup tournament.
Chandler: Garang Kuol. Set to join Newcastle United in January, the 18-year-old Central Coast Mariners forward is arguably Australia's best prospect of the last decade. Kuol's bag of tricks includes deft dribbling abilities and blinding pace, precisely the kind of skill set that should turn heads at the quadrennial tourney.
Lopopolo: Noah Okafor. Though he's made just three competitive starts for Switzerland, the 22-year-old is the Swiss team's top attacking threat. He most recently demonstrated his eye-catching dribbling ability and composure in one-on-one situations during Red Bull Salzburg's Champions League campaign, wowing spectators at San Siro in a match against AC Milan.