World Cup predictions: Soccer broadcasters make their picks

World Cup predictions are inherently difficult to get correct especially when you have as many as 32 teams competing. However, we asked more than a dozen experts to get their picks for World Cup 2022.

Those experts include commentators, analysts and writers from the world of soccer media. Many of them are very familiar names to soccer fans in the United States. For instance, commentators such as Peter Drury, Derek Rae and JP Dellacamera shared their World Cup predictions. Plus we heard from former professional players including Eric Wynalda, Thomas Rongen and Janusz Michallik. Similarly, there are picks from a lot of other recognizable names.

In reaching out to each of the celebrities individually, we were honestly quite stunned at the results. This is either going to be the most predictable World Cup ever. Or it’ll be the most unpredictable. You’ll see why when you look at the picks.

How the World Cup predictions work

World Soccer Talk reached out to many of the most-recognizable names in the soccer media world to get their predictions on who will advance from the group stage. At the World Cup, only two teams advance from each of the eight groups. Consequently, that creates the round of 16.

Due to the vast permutations and possibilities in the knockout stage, we refrained from asking for entire brackets. However, you can see how your group predictions impacts the bracket using the World Cup predictor. Map out each of the 64 games at the World Cup from the opener to the Final.

Results

The percentages shown in the charts represent the percentage of the panel that chose that team to advance. Therefore, if a team shows 100%, each person picked that team to advance.

Also, note that these people made these selections with club games still in action.

The list of experts who shared their predictions are (in alphabetical order): Jon Arnold, Matteo Bonetti, Phil Bonney, Jason Davis, JP Dellacamera, Mark Donaldson, Peter Drury, Kyle Fansler, Christopher Harris, Eric Krakauer, Janusz Michallik, Christian Miles, Chris Moore, Dere Rae, Thomas Rongen, Phil Schoen, Bob Williams and Eric Wynalda.

Group A: The Netherlands is the clear front-runner to advance. However, Senegal emerges as a candidate to make a splash.

Only Eric Wynalda and Christopher Harris predict that Qatar is advancing. If Qatar fails to make it to the Second Round, it would only be the second host in the history of the World Cup to not advance out of the first stage. South Africa became the first to hold that unwanted achievement in 2010.

Group B: One of the more contentious groups, it appears to be a race for second. Each expert picked England to advance. Eleven out of 18 picked the United States, but perhaps that is just the home-field bias, as many of those asked hail from the United States. Or, they work for US-based media outlets. Regardless, the United States remains the betting favorite to escape the group compared to Iran and Wales.

Eric Wynalda and Phil Schoen are the only two who predict Iran advances.

Group C: For the first time (but not the last), no one picked a team to advance. To be fair, Saudi Arabia is up against tough opposition. Perhaps more surprisingly, however, is the lack of expectation for Mexico. The Mexicans reached the knockout stage in seven-straight tournament prior to 2022. Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi look to put an end to that streak.

The five predicting Mexico advances are Jon Arnold, Matteo Bonetti, Peter Drury, Kyle Fansler and Christopher Harris.

Group D: This is by far the most biased group of any at this year’s World Cup. France, the defending champions, and Denmark, which was a semi-finalist at Euro 2020, are the two heavy favorites to advance. Tunisia had just one vote, and that was World Soccer Talk’s own Christopher Harris. Other than that, each person picked both the French and the Danes to advance.

Group E: Spain and Germany are the two clear-cut favorites to advance out of this group. However, the main difference between this group and Group D is that two people (Jon Arnold and Christopher Harris) picked Japan to advance.

Costa Rica, which qualified as an intercontinental playoff winner, were the last CONCACAF team to qualify. Clearly, few are high on Los Ticos.

Group F: This group is volatile. Yes, Belgium is the favorite, as only one person, Eric Wynalda from SiriusXM FC, did not pick Belgium to advance. However, Croatia was the runner-up in 2018. Plus, Marcelo Borozovic should be healthy for the World Cup. Also, Canada finished atop the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings. Then, do not count out Morocco, which deserved better than one point in the Group Stage of 2018.

Group G: Unsurprisingly, the betting favorites to win the tournament are a mainstay in the selections to reach the round of 16. However, this group’s hunt for second place is wide open. Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland are all legitimate candidates to finish second. Cameroon has the challenge of playing Brazil in matchday three, meaning it needs results in the first two games to likely have a chance.

Group H: Group H is another group of parity. Something noteworthy to consider is the fitness of Son Heung-min. He is the backbone of the South Korean side. If they want to usurp a spot from either Portugal or Uruguay, or Ghana for that matter, he is integral to the side’s success. Same goes for Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo’s form, perhaps to a lesser degree given Portugal’s talent across the board.

Dark Horse Runner

Perhaps the best part of the World Cup is watching a certain team massively overachieve and go on a run for glory. Back in 2018, Croatia knocked off England and Argentina en route to the Final, where it fell to France. Four years before then, Costa Rica emerged from a group including England, Italy and Uruguay, losing to the Netherlands in the quarterfinal on penalties.

This year, it is anyone’s guess who can take on that role.

Underdog: There is clearly parity in this regard. Some of that stems from what defines an “underdog.” Regardless, many people see Senegal as a team that can make a difference in the World Cup. The Senegalese have a fairly straightforward group, and 72% of people pick the side to get advance from that stage. The United States, Denmark, Portugal and Uruguay each received two votes each. Therefore, that Group H race could have a serious impact on the future of one, or both, of those sides.

WORLD CUP WINNER

So, which nation wins the World Cup? When we asked these experts, there was one team that stood out amongst the rest.

World Cup champion: Brazil is the team with the best odds to win the World Cup. The squad’s depth is unrivaled at the World Cup. And, so far, Brazil has been blessed by a lack of injuries to its key players. Three people picked France to repeat as champions. Yet, remember, these experts submitted their World Cup predictions before the club portion of the year ended. Injuries are still an issue, and France is not immune from that.

Just one person picked a new winning nation. Eric Wynalda once again makes headlines, as he picks the Netherlands to win its first World Cup.

GOLDEN BOOT

A final key figure to keep an eye on throughout the tournament is the race for the Golden Boot. This award goes to the competition’s top scorer. In 2018, Harry Kane finished with the trophy after his six goals. Four years before then, James Rodríguez matched that total on his home continent.

This year, there are some major names in consideration for the award.

Golden Boot winner: Thomas Rongen from CBS Sports and MLS commentator Christian Miles expect Kane to repeat as Golden Boot winner. However, the majority of people expect an inspired Messi to lead Argentina and also lead the race for top goalscorer.

There is plenty of French representation. However, one of the projected players did not even get past that vaunted French forwards list. Phil Bonney selected Randal Kolo Muani as a player to watch, but he unfortunately did not earn a call-up. France certainly has other options across Europe that expect to be making an impact in Qatar.

The panel of experts who contributed their predictions are (in alphabetical order):

Jon Arnold (Freelance writer): As a freelance writer, Jon Arnold has his options for soccer coverage wide open. Yet, his focuses include a newsletter titled ‘Getting CONCACAFed,’ which covers North American soccer. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Ecuador; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Mexico; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Japan; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Serbia; Group H: Portugal and South Korea; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Lionel Messi; Dark horse: Portugal..

Matteo Bonetti (CBS Sports): Bonetti is an expert on Serie A, having covered the league back when the rights belonged to ESPN. Now with CBS Sports’ coverage of the Italian top flight, he is a co-commentator and analyst for the channel. Twitter: . Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Ecuador; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Mexico; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Canada; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Karim Benzema; Dark horse: Canada.

Phil Bonney (Bundesliga): Phil Bonney is a familiar voice as a Bundesliga commentator. However, he is also a freelance in that position serving in other competitions and leagues. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and Wales; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Portugal and South Korea; World Cup winner: Brazil or France; Golden Boot: Christopher Nkunku or Randal Kolo Muani; Dark horse: Senegal..

Jason Davis (SiriusXM FC): As host of the daily show “The United States of Soccer” on SiriusXM FC, Davis shares his opinions and interviews on topics ranging from MLS to USL to USMNT. Twitter: . Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Cameroon; Group H: Portugal and South Korea; World Cup winner: France; Golden Boot: Kylian Mbappé; Dark horse: USA.

JP Dellacamera (FOX Sports): With World Cup experience dating back to 1986, Dellacamera is one of the play-by-play commentators for FOX’s coverage of Qatar 2022. Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Serbia; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Neymar; Dark horse: Senegal.

Mark Donaldson (ESPN): While also having an affinity for baseball, Mark Donaldson is part of ESPN’s ranging soccer studio coverage. Plus, he does play-by-play for the Bundesliga and LaLiga. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Argentina; Golden Boot: Lionel Messi; Dark horse: Denmark.

Peter Drury (NBC Sports): One of the most famous voices in the soccer industry, Peter Drury signed with NBC Sports to be the broadcaster’s lead play-by-play commentator in the Premier League before the 2022/23 season. Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Mexico; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Cameroon; Group H: Portugal and South Korea; World Cup winner: Argentina; Golden Boot: Kylian Mbappé; Dark horse: Canada.

Kyle Fansler (World Soccer Talk): Kyle is the content editor at World Soccer Talk, editing and writing stories on a range of topics from recent news and TV updates to feature pieces. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Canada; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Argentina; Golden Boot: Robert Lewandowski; Dark horse: Poland.

Christopher Harris (World Soccer Talk): As the founder of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris oversees everything that happens on the website. Also, he writes specialized articles and hosts the longest-running soccer podcast. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Qatar and Senegal; Group B: England and Wales; Group C: Argentina and Mexico; Group D: France and Tunisia; Group E: Japan and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Cameroon; Group H: Ghana and Uruguay; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Lionel Messi; Dark horse: Senegal.

Eric Krakauer (Charlotte FC): Eric Krakauer is the play-by-play voice of new MLS side Charlotte FC. Before then, he worked in the commentator’s booth calling the Portuguese Primeira Liga and Spain’s LaLiga with beIN SPORTS. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Serbia; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Lionel Messi; Dark horse: Uruguay.

Janusz Michallik (ESPN): Another feature name on ESPN’s slot of studio shows, Janusz Michallik is a former player for the United States Men’s National Team. Now, he is a studio analyst for ESPN. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Serbia; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Neymar; Dark horse: Serbia.

Christian Miles (Major League Soccer): Christian Miles is a soccer commentator who focuses primarily on Major League Soccer, yet he has experience in European leagues and international play in the booth. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Ecuador; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Canada; Group G: Brazil and Serbia; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Harry Kane; Dark horse: Uruguay.

Chris Moore (World Soccer Talk): Focusing currently on breaking news with World Soccer Talk, Chris Moore featured writing for World Soccer Talk dating back to 2014. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and Wales; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Neymar; Dark horse: Senegal.

Derek Rae (Freelance commentator): As the English-language voice of the Bundesliga, Derek Rae is one of the most renowned voices in the broadcasting industry for the sport. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and Wales; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Morocco; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Karim Benzema; Dark horse: Senegal.

Thomas Rongen (CBS Sports): Thomas Rongen is a former soccer player and coach, highlighted by time managing a set of MLS teams. Now, he is a studio analyst with CBS Sports’s differing properties. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Ecuador; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Harry Kane; Dark horse: USA and Canada.

Phil Schoen (beIN SPORTS): A voice for beIN SPORTS for years as a lead commentator, Schoen previously called games for LaLiga, but stayed with the network as it acquired Ligue Un. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Senegal; Group B: England and Iran; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Serbia; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Neymar; Dark horse: Portugal.

Bob Williams (SportBusiness): As the US correspondent for SportBusiness, Williams covers all things soccer, as well as other sports, in the United States. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Ecuador; Group B: England and USA; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Belgium and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Switzerland; Group H: Uruguay and Portugal; World Cup winner: Brazil; Golden Boot: Harry Kane; Dark horse: USA and Canada.

Eric Wynalda (SiriusXM FC): Eric Wynalda is a former player for the USMNT. Now, he works with Sirius XM satellite radio for its soccer coverage as an analyst. Twitter: .Predictions: Group A: Netherlands and Qatar; Group B: England and Iran; Group C: Argentina and Poland; Group D: France and Denmark; Group E: Spain and Germany; Group F: Canada and Croatia; Group G: Brazil and Cameroon; Group H: Portugal and South Korea; World Cup winner: Netherlands; Golden Boot: Lionel Messi; Dark horse: Denmark..

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!

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