The scene is set in Qatar as the start of the 2022 World Cup approaches, a tournament that will undoubtedly have ramifications for Serie A, even considering Italy’s absence.
Although the Azzurri failed to book their spot at the tournament, a long list of representatives from Serie A have headed off to Qatar for the World Cup, giving fans of the Italian game something to follow as they wait for the league to return in January.
The unusual winter scheduling of this World Cup could lead to some surprises and the Football Italia staff have weighed in with their predications for the tournament.
Apollo – Serbia: The perennial World Cup dark horses, Serbia seem to have a real shot of making a run into the knock-out stages of this tournament, bringing proven Serie A stars like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Vlahovic and Nikola Milenkovic alongside known entities like Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic.
Susy – Denmark: They were unlucky not to go further in EURO 2020 and are bolstered by the unity they developed during that tournament, plus of course the fact Christian Eriksen is back on the field. It would be a wonderful story to see them get a long run and the draw has been fairly kind too.
Lorenzo – USMNT: They are in a tough group with England, Wales and Iran, but have some exciting players who, for the first time in history, are playing at the highest levels in Europe. Weston McKennie has been at Juventus for over three years now, and Christian Pulisic is a Champions League winner with Chelsea. A talented team that can make ‘soccer’ grow even more in the States.
Golden Boot Winner
Apollo – Memphis Depay: Countless players are coming into this World Cup with something to prove and none more so than Depay, whose contract expires with Barcelona at the end of this season. Things never really went to plan in Catalonia for the 28-year-old and now he’s gearing up for the tournament in Qatar with a shadow looming over his future. A good tournament for Depay is exactly what he needs in a bid to advertise himself as a truly top forward.
Susy – Kylian Mbappe: If Karim Benzema really is hobbled by injury problems, more of France’s attacking play will have to rely on the Paris Saint-Germain striker. His pace makes him deadly in tournaments like this.
Lorenzo – Harry Kane: England’s group stage is not among the toughest and the opening match with Iran will give the Spurs star a good chance to bag some goals early in the tournament. England create many opportunities in every match and Kane can rely on some talented and unpredictable teammates who can provide service at any moment.
Best Serie A performer
Apollo – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: If the Serbian midfielder is ever going to truly make a name for himself on the world stage then this is his chance. At 27, this World Cup could be a key turning point in Milinkovic-Savic’s career and his contract situation at Lazio leaves him open to angling for a move away should he shine in Qatar.
Susy – Angel Di Maria: Let’s be perfectly honest, his Juventus career so far has been a warm-up act for this tournament. The World Cup is all he wanted with Argentina and everything was geared towards making an impact in this competition.
Lorenzo – Lautaro Martinez: All eyes will be on Lionel Messi as he has the last chance to lift the World Cup in Qatar. However, support from his compatriots will be crucial and Lautaro Martinez is one of those players who can shine at the World Cup and has got to Qatar quite in shape as well.
Apollo – Spain: Little noise has been made about Luis Enrique’s Spain heading into the World Cup but I think their dark arts inspired football will lead them far in Qatar. La Roja reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and are in the Final Four of the Nations League, quietly managing to secure win after win, and the time seems right for their second world title.
Susy – Argentina: None of the teams look unbeatable going into Qatar, but La Seleccion are close enough. As ever, it depends on whether their big players find form at the right time, because we know too well that Lautaro Martinez has spells of doing nothing and then scores a flurry of goals. Lionel Messi finally put the big tournament hoodoo behind him with the Copa America and it’s time for a South American winner again.
Lorenzo – Brazil: The Seleçao do not only have one of the deepest attacking forces in the tournament but can also rely on a solid and experienced defence with former Roma star Marquinhos, Juventus defender Gleison Bremer and Real Madrid star Eder Militao. They are also very balanced in the middle of the park and overall they seem to be the best team in Qatar. Pressure will be on them, as it always happens when Brazil take to the pitch at a World Cup.