The best nations from UEFA and around the world are descending on Doha for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Reputable businessman and top football fan, Arif Efendi, has given his predictions on who will win the tournament. It seems that his heart would like a South American champion, “I would love to see either (Lionel) Messi or Neymar win a World Cup. Both deserve it.” But his head offers possible champions from European shores, “Then there’s the usual suspects like France, Spain, England, Germany and Portugal. All those teams have lots of quality.”
Spain, England, France and Germany are Arif Efendi’s top UEFA Choices
With the last five FIFA World Cup winners heralding from UEFA, it should be no surprise that Efendi is focusing his attention on that confederation for the 2022 edition. One of those recent winners, Spain – the 2010 champions – are a side he believes can return to former glories, “Spain looks great under Luis Enrique and I think they were very unlucky in the last Euros.” Picking out Pedri and Gavi as extremely gifted young players, Efendi believes that Spain is a truly remarkable team.
Finalists at the Euros in 2021, England can go one better this time, according to Efendi who has noted their upturn in form over recent tournaments, “they’ve improved tremendously… and with their quality of players, and a new added maturity, they’re contenders.”
France took the crown in 2018, but reigning champions have not fared well over the last few decades. Arif Efendi highlighted Paul Pogba as “the heartbeat of this team” but he is one of a few key players ruled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad through injury. Nevertheless, France has great strength in depth and Efendi claims that “if they’re on form… they’re the team to beat!”
“It’s tough to discount them.” The same is often said of Germany going into any major tournament, and Efendi believes the same is true ahead of Qatar 2022, “especially when they have so much quality and experience with the likes of Gundogan, Kroos and Kimmich.” After a long transition period, Germany is bringing exciting youngsters through again, with Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz being two that Efendi is keeping an eye on.
As well as his main contenders, Efendi has picked out a few potential dark horses from UEFA who could go all the way at the World Cup, “In addition, I expect strong showings from the likes of Portugal, Netherlands and Denmark.”
He suggests Portugal could win a maiden world title as the country “is a talent factory possessing one of the greatest players of all time in (Cristiano) Ronaldo and current midfield maestros like Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva.” Netherlands meanwhile has a great blend of youth and experience under “legendary” coach Louis van Gaal, while Denmark received great praise from Efendi as “the best team of Euro 2020… with an exceptional coach in Kasper Hjulmand.”
Argentina and Brazil are other teams with chances to win
Despite that European dominance of late, many people are predicting the South American heavyweights Brazil and Argentina will finally break that run. Arif Efendi is no different, offering his insight on why this could be the year for one of the big rivals.
He has more than just hope in Messi winning the World Cup thanks to the way Argentina have made him their lynchpin, “This looks like their best chance in a long time. Their manager, Lionel Scaloni, has done a remarkable job making this team click. They’re built around Messi but are agile enough to compliment his strengths and cover his weaknesses” But the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is not the be-all-and-end-all for Argentina, according to Efendi, “Emi Martinez, Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martinez have added solidity to the defence, which allows the midfield and forwards to play with the freedom they so desire.”
Five-time champions but no title since 2002, it is a drought no Brazil fan wants to see extended. They may be happy, therefore, to see that Arif Efendi thinks this could finally be their year again, “Just like Argentina, this looks like the strongest Brazil team in a long time, and maybe, just maybe, they can end their twenty-year drought.” Every Brazil team is packed full of stars, but this one, led by Neymar, could be different thanks to “no obvious weaknesses.” Efendi picks out Vinicius Jr, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison as men to lift the burden off Neymar’s shoulders, but it is not all flair; “Casemiro and Alisson add solidity to the team’s core.” Attacking talent and defensive solidity; perhaps a winning combination?
The Recent Release of a Game of Secrets
The darker side of football has unfortunately resurfaced recently, thanks to the release of “A Game of Secrets”, a documentary about the Football Leaks website. Football Leaks has been illegally leaking private emails and confidential documents in the sport since 2015. The site began by sharing stolen documents with information about players’ contracts, particularly those involving third-party ownership.
Over the years, the site, owned by hacker Rui Pinto, detailed information about the contracts and other business of stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. It went on to leak information about the supposed European Super League and clubs breaking Financial Fair Play rules. Pinto was arrested in 2019 for breaching confidentiality laws and committing blackmail.
Arif Efendi has given his opinion on the documentary and about the whole affair. After first thinking Pinto wanted to clear the waters, the film shifted Efendi opinion, “Despite initial impressions that Mr Pinto was mainly interested in uncovering secrets for the sake of transparency, further investigation dug up payments to a Cayman Islands bank account registered in his name, throwing doubt over the true intentions behind the leaks.”
Whereas many people are focusing on the documents, Mr Efendi continues to centre his attentions on Pinto’s intentions, “This is something that has often been overlooked. For me, this is the main takeaway from the film.”