The greatest show on earth begins

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A top-of-the-table finish in Group G would likely see them face Uruguay in the Round of 16 with probably Germany in the quarterfinal…reports Asian Lite News

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicks-off today with the host nation kicking off the campaign against Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.

Brazil are currently ranked No. 1 in FIFA Rankings and is the favourite to lift the trophy. It’s been two decades since they got their hands on the most prestigious prize in world football. Brazil had last won the World Cup in 2002 when it was hosted by Japan and Korea, beating Germany 2-0 in the final.

The Selecao are on a 15-match unbeaten run entering the World Cup, dating to their last loss at the Copa America final against Argentina. Neymar continues to show his dominant performance for Paris Saint-Germain with 11 goals and nine assists in Ligue 1.

After a disappointing end to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to injury, Neymar had a point to prove in Russia in 2018. However, things didn’t go down well for the forward as they crashed out in the quarterfinal against Belgium. The 2022 World Cup is some sort of redemption for the PSG player as some call it ‘Neymar’s year’.

The odds favour Brazil to clear the group on top with Switzerland and Serbia following suit. It wouldn’t be a shocker if they come out with three perfect wins in the group stage. The odds suggest that Cameroon would finish last in Group G.

As they are clear favourites to win the group, they are also in contention to glide through the knockout stage. They haven’t failed to qualify for the knockout stages since 1982, played in three finals and won two titles since then (1994 and 2002).

A top-of-the-table finish in Group G would likely see them face Uruguay in the Round of 16 with probably Germany in the quarterfinal. However, the World Cup is always full of surprises and anything can happen on the big stage.

Coach Tite has selected a strong side for the World Cup with the veteran Thiago Silva leading the line. They have two exceptional goalkeepers in Liverpool’s Alisson Becker and Manchester City’s Ederson. Casemiro and Fred provide a strong pivot in the middle of the park as Casemiro works as a sweeper and a touch to perfection in retaining possession.

In the front line, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli are in impressive form under Mikel Arteta in Arsenal. Vinicius Junior will be coming off the bench but the 22-year-old has been a force for European Champions Real Madrid in their run to the La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles last season.

WIth such depth and young players in form for the yellow army, Brazil have a shot at the World Cup and for Neymar to lift the trophy for the first time, and also his last as he suggests it to be the final World Cup before he hangs his boots.

‘Brazil win not guaranteed’

Dr Joshua Bull, an Oxford mathematician at the University’s Mathematical Institute, has done a modelling, which forecasts the likelihood of a Brazil victory in the FIFA World Cup finals stating today in Qatar.

Sharing his modelling, Dr Bull said: “So this is, you know, my prediction, my future in sports modelling on the line. And my model is basically saying that Brazil are definitely looking most likely to win, but by no means guaranteed.”

Describing himself as a ‘non-football expert’, Dr Bull uses what is called an xG tool, which is popular in football modelling circles. He has simulated every game in the tournament — the first ever winter World Cup in football — to arrive at a conclusion.

He calculates from predicted xGs for teams in a match to a likely score of the match by using what he described as ‘a Poisson distribution’. He also falls back on current ratings of teams as listed in eloratings.net.

Having gone through the modelling process match by match, he projects a Brazil versus Argentina final, with the former beating the Netherlands and the latter defeating France in the semifinals.

Dr Bull’s four other quarterfinalists are Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Denmark in the beautiful game’s greatest show on earth.

Four things to look out for in opener

The long wait for the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East is over as hosts Qatar and Ecuador prepare to raise the curtain on the 2022 edition of football’s biggest international tournament. Here are four things to look out for in Sunday’s match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

ALMOEZ ALI THREAT

Almoez Ali has shown a penchant for performing well when it matters most. The 26-year-old striker was the top scorer at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, in which Qatar participated as tournament guests, with four goals in five games.

ALFARO IMPACT

Since replacing Jordi Cruyff as Ecuador’s boss in August 2020, Gustavo Alfaro has transformed a promising but erratic squad into one of South America’s most feared national teams.

An impressive World Cup qualifying campaign saw them finish fourth in the South American group, behind only Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, and above teams of the caliber of Chile, Peru and Paraguay.

ECUADOR’S DEFENCE

Led by Bayer Leverkusen center-back Piero Hincapie and Brighton left-back Pervis Estupinan, Ecuador boasts one of the tournament’s most solid defences.

Ecuador conceded just 19 goals in 18 qualifiers and have kept clean sheets in each of their past five games.

ALSO READ-‘FIFA WC 2022 to change the perceptions’

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