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Big Questions Ahead of World Cup 2022

There was a big sports hole in the middle of summer 2022. The World Cup, football’s greatest tournament, is usually played in June and July. This year, that didn’t happen.

Everything around World Cup 2022 is going to be different. It’s going to be the first time that the tournament is held in the Middle East, with the host nation of Qatar. It’s also going to be the first time that the tournament is held outside of its usual June/July window. The reason for the change of season is because of the host nation’s desert climate.

There are a host of other issues that could arise in the preparation and playing of the tournament. The restrictions around alcohol sales, a usual staple at World Cup games, and the human rights component of the World Cup will also be in focus.

For those of us trying to analyze the tournament from a handicapping perspective, there are a few factors we should be aware of in assessing the tournament objectively.

Potential Burnout of Players

The football calendar has always demanded a lot of its players. The combination of club and national team responsibilities makes it seem like there is truly no off-season when it comes to football.

That will be tested even more this year with the unusual placement of the World Cup. The Premier League is planning to take a 6-week break from November 12-December 26. They have also reduced the number of matches they are going to play at Christmastime to reduce “burnout” among players returning from the World Cup.

This means that Premier League footballers who played in the World Cup final will be asked to suit up for club competition within a week of competing in a grueling World Cup. This is unprecedented territory for the World Cup. One thing is starting to become very clear about this World Cup: it doesn’t appear like it’s going to be an optimal outcome.

How Will Weather Affect Teams

With World Cup 2022 being the first time the tournament is held in the Middle East, the weather is going to be a major factor. When the bid was initially secured, plans talked of having air-conditioned stadiums to stick with the traditional June/July window. Instead, they’ll be playing in November and December.

Summer temperatures in the Persian Gulf usually run around an average high of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The winter temperatures our teams will be looking at playing in will have an average high of around 80 degrees.

One thing that I’ll pay attention to here is which teams are comfortable playing in the heat. Before World Cup 2014, a European team had never won a World Cup that wasn’t hosted in Europe.

While I don’t think any of the Middle Eastern teams are currently strong enough to challenge for the cup, I will be looking closer at South American and African teams who will have that hemispheric advantage in dealing with the climate.

Favorites to Win It All

A brief look at the odds for World Cup winners has the usual top-tier favorites – Brazil, France, Argentina, Spain, Germany, etc.

For this World Cup, I’m going to look away from betting on winners to betting that this World Cup will have a first-time winner, which is going off at +175. Given everything different about this World Cup, choosing chaos is the way to go here!

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