In the sporting world, the World Cup is one of the biggest events in the world, drawing upon multiple countries that all compete for the World Cup trophy that can only be earned every four years. 

The U.S. Men’s National Team poses for a team photo before an exhibition soccer match.

The host nation always gets an automatic bid into the World Cup, so Qatar made up Group A, followed by the draw of Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands. The favorites to come out of the group are the Netherlands, who boast one of the best defenses with defenders Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt and Nathan Aké. Senegal was able to make the games backed by the balance of their lineup with star winger Sadio Mané, midfielder Idrissa Gueye and Chelsea goalie Édouard Mendy. 

In Group B, a familiar face returns to the field after missing the 2018 World Cup — the United States. They are accompanied by England, Iran and the winner of the European play-offs. The favorite of Group B is the No. 5 team in the world, England, who have world-class players like forward Harry Kane and midfielders Phil Foden and Jack Grealish in attack. The United States, the No. 15 team in the world, is the youngest team to qualify for the World Cup, backed by “Captain America,” otherwise known as midfielder Christian Pulisic. 

One of the toughest draws comes in Group C, featuring Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. The highest ranked of the four is Argentina at No. 4 in the world, backed by arguably one of the greatest players of all time, forward Lionel Messi. Mexico, ranking No. 9, finished second in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) standings just behind Canada and are a balance of young players and seasoned veterans. 

Group D features a clear path for the defending champion to make it out of the group stage. The defending champion, France, will have to face a strong Denmark side, a young Tunisian team and an IC Play-Off winner to be named later. 

Germany and Spain face a tough challenge, as to make it out of Group E, they will have to take on Japan and another IC Play-Off winner to be named later. Spain is backed by a new era of a young core with players like defender Pau Torres, forward Ferran Torres, and midfielders Gavi and Pedri. Germany is a strong No. 2 team in this group, backed by premier goal stopper Marc-André ter Stegen and crafty midfielder Kai Havertz. 

There is always one “group of death,” and Group F presents that group with No. 2 Belgium, No. 16 Croatia, Morocco and the first-place CONCACAF team, Canada. The best squad in the group, Belgium features top players in each facet of the game, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and winger Eden Hazard. Croatia is the World Cup runner-up and Canada surprisingly finished top of the CONCACAF, so there will be a battle in this group. 

The No. 1 team in the world features Brazil headlining Group G, competing with No. 14 Switzerland, No. 25 Serbia and No. 37 Cameroon. Brazil is the easy favorite with players like forwards Neymar and Vinícius Júnior in attack, while Switzerland should not be overlooked with World Cup veterans like forward Breel Embolo and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri. 

Last but not least, Group H features one of the biggest stars in the world, forward Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. They will be accompanied by Ghana, No. 13 Uruguay and South Korea. No. 8 Portugal barely scraped by to make the World Cup but should be the favorite with star players like Ronaldo and midfielder Bruno Fernandes. Uruguay will be right on their tail with youngsters like midfielders Federico Valverde and Lucas Torreira. 

Overall, the betting favorites in Vegas include Brazil and France who are the No. 1 in the world and the defending World Cup champion, respectively.

A version of this article appeared on p. 9 of the Apr. 7, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.