World Cup - Football: Brazil looking to fulfil favouritsm
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is just 150 days away and Brazil, who have won the competition a record five times, will take some stopping.
This year's World Cup, which runs from 21st November through to 18th December, will have a very different feel for those watching in the UK.
Instead of watching in the midst of summer when the days are longer, it's set to take place through the winter when the nights are drawing in and snow is potentially falling in the build-up to Christmas.
Qatar will become the first country in the Middle East to host the biggest competition in international football with the average daily temperature set to hit 40C.
The hosts, who are making their debut at the World Cup, kick off the tournament on 21st November against Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium.
It's unlikely that Qatar will be battling it out in the latter stages but the usual heavyweights of world football will hope to be involved.
|What:||World Cup 2022|
|When:||21st November - 18th December 2022|
|How to watch:||All matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV|
|Odds:||Brazil 5.50, England 6.50, France 7.00, Spain 9.00, Argentina 8.00|
Tite's time to shine with Brazil
Brazil appointed Tite as Dunga's successor after failing to get out of their group at the 2016 Copa America and he's certainly overseen an improvement.
The South American giants won the Copa America in 2019 and finished runners-up in 2021, while they made it to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
After success on their own continent, expectation levels are high heading into the 2022 World Cup and Brazil are 5.50 favourites to win the tournament for a record-extending sixth time.
They eased through qualifying without losing a single game, winning 14 and drawing three and scored 40 goals with just five conceded.
Fixtures with Switzerland and Cameroon follow on and topping the group would see them face the runners-up in Group H, which involves Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
A Selecao are unbeaten in 13 matches at the time of writing and with just one game left to play before the World Cup, it's likely that Tite already has a strong idea of what squad he will be taking.
Recent squads have boasted a nice blend of youth and experience with the likes of Thiago Silva and Dani Alves complimenting Lyon's Lucas Paqueta and Real Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
Can France defend their crown?
Only two nations have successfully defended their World Cup crown - Brazil and Italy.
France will attempt to join that elite club this winter after Didier Deschamps led them to glory at the 2018 competition in Russia.
Les Bleus are 7.00 to lift the trophy and they certainly can't be overlooked after securing qualification without losing a game and conceding just three goals.
They clearly had the strongest squad in 2018 and it could be argued Deschamps has an ever bigger pool to pick from this time around.
Aurelien Tchouameni, who has joined Real Madrid this summer, Jules Kounde, Christopher Nkunku, Moussa Diaby and Marcus Thuram are all pushing to be involved at a World Cup for the first time.
Deschamps, of course, has his usual suspects ready and raring to go too, with Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante providing plenty of experience at the highest level.
Drawn in Group D, France begin the World Cup on 22nd November against Australia before facing Denmark and Tunisia.
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Expectation levels high for England
It goes without saying that the nation expects big things from England when it comes to a major competition, but recent performances at the World Cup and European Championships have ramped up the pressure further.
Gareth Southgate led the Three Lions to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020 and he'll be hoping to go one better in Qatar.
Recent results, enduring a four-game winless run in the Nations League, including successive defeats to Hungary, have left Southgate facing some unwanted questions but the England boss will hope for some more positive performances later in the year.
They return to action four days later against the United States before wrapping up their group fixtures against neighbours Wales on 29th November.
Last chance for Messi and Ronaldo?
The 2022 World Cup is likely to be the last time Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo represent their nations on the grandest stage.
Messi will be 35 when the competition gets underway and Ronaldo is two years his senior. Amazingly, neither have managed to lay their hands on the famous trophy despite winning almost every other piece of silverware on offer between them.
Paris Saint-Germain's Messi did end his long wait for international glory when helping Argentina to win the 2021 Copa America, while Ronaldo has won the European Championships and Nations League with Portugal.
Argentina, priced at 8.00 to win the World Cup, lost to France in the round of 16 in 2018 and they will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C.
Portugal are 13.00 to win the tournament for the first time and will take on Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.
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