Your 2022 World Cup safe bets

Here are 11 things I can confidently say will happen in Qatar

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These are the nations that will be represented at the 2022 World Cup
These are the nations that will be represented at the 2022 World Cup
Image: Getty Images

While every World Cup is unique in its own way, and this one especially, there are certain happenings you can count on. They come about every tournament. The pressure, the coverage, the overall oeuvre of the whole thing just drives people into the same patterns. Over the next month, you can look for just about any and all of these to happen at some point.

The press conference meltdown

The only distinction here is whether it’s a player or a manager. Sometimes it’s a striker who has misfired in the first two games. Sometimes it’s the captain who’s tired of eating all the shit between his manager and his teammates. Sometimes it’s a manager who knows he’s about to hit the unemployment line in the next few days. Either way, there will be a press conference where the first question sets someone off, and no matter the language, you can be sure it’ll be translated to something to the effect of, “You are not men! I am a man but you are not men!” as bewildered journalists look on. Generally, this is spurred on by a simple question like a change of formation or if he’s worried about the next opponent.


Alexi Lalas reaching for some bullhorn narrative

Lalas yearns to be the Stephan A. Smith of soccer, except he doesn’t have the personality, or the knowledge, that Smith has (I realize that seems like a low bar to clear, but here we are). And this is really funny because Lalas was an executive in MLS for a long while and was GM of the Galaxy when they signed David Beckham. Anyway, Lalas will do his damndest to make sure that every time he speaks he has a good chance to end up trending, trying to emit enough smoke that something catches. Last time around he couldn’t wait to jump on Spain firing their manager right before the tournament as the reason they were struggling… 45 minutes into their first match.


There’s gotta be something easy for him to reach for this time around. Seeing as how Argentina joins us on the tournament’s third day, let’s say at halftime of their first match he will claim that Lionel Messi is letting his country down. It’s right there.

Someone on ESPN who doesn’t know anything about soccer screaming as if they do know something about soccer

This almost certainly will happen when the U.S. exits the tournament, noting how it’s a disappointment, even if it’s the semifinals.

Someone sent home for PEDs

With FIFA going to pull every “Hey look over there!” lever possible to try and distract from the idiocy of having this tournament in Qatar for a variety of reasons, they will do anything to look like they’re in charge and have the sport’s best interest at heart without actually offending their hosts.


A burn notice

During any Germany or England match, a shot of a group of fans that have attained a level of sunburn that is somewhere between “grape” and “strawberry fields.”


A broadcaster making reference to the stereotyped temperamental nature of South American players

Likely when there’s some kind of kerfuffle in the 70th minute of a match involving Uruguay or Ecuador.


A Seoul sonic force

South Korean fans don’t stop cheering during halftime (this only applies if you’re attending a match).


An existential crisis for Mexico whenever they exit

Even if they get bounced at the same point they always do (Round of 16).

Some big team utterly burying a machete in their manager’s back (figuratively) before their tournament is over

France in 2010 was the prime example when things went balls-up. Some big team that had huge expectations is pulling a full body dry heave in the group stage, and suddenly the biggest sports paper or section in their country is running anonymous quotes and stories about what a mess the whole camp has been and how every player thinks their plans and tactics were drawn up by sugar-packed kindergartners. If you had to guess, Germany and Belgium are probably the surest bet this time around. Most of Germany’s squad already has a distaste for Hansi Flick, and this is Belgium’s last real swing at a trophy. Roberto Martinez could meet the undercarriage of a bus so easily.


Cristiano Ronaldo having some pre-planned celebration

And it’ll be after he scores a penalty that’s the fourth goal in a 4-0 win over Ghana that will tie into his interview with Piers Morgan.


A late-night host making jokes about Neymar diving

Trevor Noah for sure.

Get ready folks, it’s almost here.