The battle to reach Qatar 2022 is underway.
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all still searching for their first victories, while England will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of Group I victories against a Poland side missing star marksman Robert Lewandowski.
2022 World Cup Qualifiers Betting | Road To Qatar
Here are our next set of 2022 World Cup predictions as all four Home Nations sign off their first set of qualifying fixtures…
Tuesday 30th March
WALES VS CZECH REPUBLIC
The Welsh mirrored recent history by once again giving the Belgians a real scare in matchday one, but the Red Devils’ relentless firepower ultimately told in Leuven as the group favourite ultimately ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
There was no shame in that result for Rob Page’s side given their opening opponents have not lost a competitive home game since 2010.
Now that ‘free hit’ is out the way, a home tie against early group leaders the Czech Republic already has a ‘must not lose’ flavour for the Welsh given defeat would leave them playing catch-up seven points behind the Czechs in the early stages of this competition.
However, Jaroslav Šilhavý’s side have proven to be a handful on the road over the last 18 months, winning five of their last eight on their travels, with West Ham lynchpin Tomáš Souček key to their recent revival. The hosts may have to keep him quiet to keep in touch with the group pacesetters.
Wednesday 31st March
ENGLAND VS POLAND
It’s been workmanlike rather than world class for England so far in qualifying.
Gareth Southgate’s men were ultimately comfortable in 5-0 and 2-0 wins over San Marino and Albania without ever truly hitting top gear, with onlooking Premier League managers likely to be the most satisfied by the clean bill of health the squad retains after two rounds of matches.
The ever-pragmatic Gareth Southgate will be satisfied with a good fortnight’s work if England can add another win into their column by the time his players return to their clubs on Thursday against the team that seem most capable of threating their dominance of this group, Poland.
The Three Lions boss has probably been sleeping a little easier this week after the Poles’ all-time record goalscorer, Robert Lewandowski, limped out in their win over Andorra, while Southgate could also benefit from a revived Harry Kane at Wembley after the England striker ended his recent goal drought against Albania and provided an assist.
SCOTLAND VS FAROE ISLANDS
Five points from three group games would offer Steve Clarke some solid foundations to work from if that is their eventual tally come Thursday – but first Scotland have to get the job done against the Faroes in a game where they will be expected to play on the front foot.
It’s now over a decade since these two nations met, a 3-0 win for the Scots in 2010. However, the Faroes have famously haunted the Scots twice in previous qualifying meetings, gaining merited draws in 1999 and 2002. With a rampant Denmark to come after this, the Scots will need to be clinical here to keep themselves tucked in contention, but the Faroes aren’t without a threat themselves.
Hakan Ericson’s side left Austria briefly rattled after taking an early lead in their last group game before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat.
NORTHERN IRELAND VS BULGARIA
It always looked like Ian Baraclough had impossible shoes to fill when replacing the popular and successful Michael O’Neill as NI manager back in June, but it’s a task that looks even tougher than the 43-year-old would have envisaged since stepping into the role.
A 2-1 friendly defeat to the USA at the weekend means Baraclough has now reached an unwanted milestone in any international career: double figures in games without recording a first win. A game against Bulgaria already looks make-or-break for the under-fire coach, with Yasen Petrov’s side bottom after a brutal opening double-header against Italy and Switzerland.
The Bulgarians are notoriously poor travellers having won just once on the road in five years, something that should give Baraclough something to think about in a possibly career-defining game.
2022 World Cup Outrights
By the time this tournament kicks off it’ll be over 20 years since Brazil have won a World Cup.
The Seleção have become more renowned for humiliating exists from this tournament in recent decades, but some long overdue success when lifting the 2019 Copa América suggests they could be ready to stay the distance in Qatar.
The Brazilians start out as 6/1 favourites with Marathonbet to lift the 2022 World Cup.
Reigning champions France are expected to be strong again and start out as 13/2 joint second-favourites, albeit the French have shown a tendency in past generations to hit the self-destruct button the tournament after lifting a trophy.
Germany could be interesting at 13/2 with the Joachim Löw era set to be over by the time this tournament starts, while England fans might be quietly confident that their talented young generation of stars can come of age in the UAE.
The Three Lions are 9/1 to end more than 50 years of hurt.
2022 World Cup FAQ
When does the 2022 World Cup start?
It all gets underway on Monday 21st November 2022, with hosts Qatar in action in Group A at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
What time will games be on at the 2022 World Cup?
With only a three-hour time difference between the UK and Qatar, it’s relatively good news for fans watching from the sofa back home.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stages of the tournament, in slots of 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm GMT.
When is the 2022 World Cup Final?
The 2022 World Cup final is on Sunday 18th December at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium. The game is due to take place at 3pm GMT for British viewers.
What are the dates for the 2022 World Cup?
With many world leagues forced into a mid-season break by this winter tournament, this will be the shortest ever World Cup, being played over 28 days. The competition will begin on 21st November and end just under four weeks later on 18th December.