Achieving back-to-back wins in the World Cup is a rare feat. In fact, the feat has been achieved only once in the past. In 1958, Brazil, featuring legendary Pele, won the Cup for the first time. They repeated the feat in 1962.
Difficult though the task may be, I still think defending champions France will replicate the feat that Brazil accomplished way back in 1962. France will be managed by Didier Deschamps at the World Cup, the same manager who guided the squad to the title in 2018. Deschamps is only the third man to have won the World Cup both as a player and as a manager.
Bookmakers Consider Brazil the Favourites
Interestingly, bookmakers do not list France as their first-choice favourites, as reflected by the odds. Bookmakers are unanimous in rating Brazil as favourites to win WC 2023 in Qatar. Here’s one reason why I think these bookmakers are wrong.
The Brazilian defence is weak, hampered by a reliance on such ageing players as Thiago Silva and Dani Alves. The midfield continues to rely on Coutinho, who has apparently lost his magical touch. Added to that, Casumo is not up to scratch. However, the forward line does boast such renowned names as Neymar, Jesus and Firmino.
French Squad a Blend of Youth and Experience
Let’s take a look at the French squad. In goal, there is skipper Hugo Lloris, with Areola and Costil as possible backup keepers. The defence boasts such renowned players as Pavard, Digne, and Lucas Hernandez, among others.
Kante is a pillar in the midfield which also has Tchouameni, Rabiot, and Guendouzi. The forward line boasts the likes of Mbappe, Griezmann and Benzema. The final World Cup selections could include the likes of Pogba, Mendy and Dembele.
There are some outstanding young players. Mbappe, who performed brilliantly in 2018, is just 23. Kante and Griezmann, two of the most experienced members of the squad, are only 31.
The Likely Path of Progress for Brazil
Brazil will feature in Group G, alongside Switzerland, Serbia, and Cameroon. They are expected to top the group. In the round of 16, they are expected to meet the second-placed team from Group H. Portugal are likely to top that group. So, the round-of-16 game is likely to be against Uruguay, Korea or Ghana.
That may not prove a hard challenge for the five-time champion side. However, the quarter-finals could prove to be the biggest hurdle. Their QF rivals are likely to be the winners of Group E, either Spain or Germany.
The Likely Path of Progress for France
France will feature in Group D, alongside Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia. They are expected to top the group. In the round of 16, they are likely to play the second-placed team from Group C.
That team could be one of Argentina, Mexico and Poland. In the quarter-final, Deschamps’ wards are likely to face either the winners of Group B or the runners-up of Group A. (England are expected to top Group B; one of Senegal, Ecuador, or Qatar could finish second in Group A.) Thus, France would appear to have a well-chalked-out pathway to the semi-finals.
The quality of their young squad and their relatively easy path to the semi-finals make France my World Cup favourites.
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