IT has been like a mini World Cup in the last few weeks with the Nations League serving up a daily diet of football for armchair fans.

But thoughts are now turning towards Qatar 2022 with the line-up complete for a tournament like no other.

Australia and Costa Rica claimed the final two places earlier this week as they came out on top in the Inter-Continental play-offs.

So punters can start planning for a winter World Cup which could be a minefield when it comes to picking winners.

FIFA should still be hanging their heads in shame about awarding the tournament to Qatar with thousands of migrant workers dying in the searing heat during the construction of stadia. And the temperatures could have a big effect on results, even though the World Cup has been moved to November and December.

The last time players were forced to play in such extreme heat came at USA 94 and it was Brazil who eventually came out on top.

The samba stars also lifted the trophy when football went out of its comfort zone in Japan and Korea, with the 2002 tournament throwing up plenty of shocks.

So that’s probably why the Brazilians are McBookie’s 5/1 favourites for glory in Qatar, with holders France next in the betting at 11/2. But I’m more drawn to the 9/1 on offer at QuinnBet for Argentina to lift the trophy.

They beat Brazil at the Maracana to triumph in the Copa America last summer and followed that up by crushing Italy 3-0 in the Finalissima a few weeks ago.

This is Lionel Messi’s last chance to get his hands on football’s biggest prize and it would be a fitting way to bring the curtain down on his international career.

When France last headed into a World Cup as champions in 2002 they crashed out in the group stage and couldn’t even manage to score a goal.

It’s hard to see that happening this time with Didier Deschamps’ side in a group alongside Denmark, Tunisia and Australia.

But the Danes have already won in Paris in this year’s Nations League, with France sitting bottom of the section without a win, so the 3/1 on offer for Kasper Hjulmand’s side to top Group D might be worth a tentative punt.

The Nations League has been even more traumatic for England this summer, with Gareth Southgate’s men humbled 4-0 at home by Hungary on Wednesday to make it four games without a win.

Southgate is coming under fire from fed-up fans for being too conservative, despite coming within a whisker of winning the Euros last summer. Something doesn’t look right in the camp so I’m surprised the Three Lions are third in the outright betting for the World Cup at a best 8/1 with SportNation.

Wales look the biggest threat to England in Group B and the Dragons look decent value at 11/10 with the same firm to reach the knockout stages.

Qatar have been gearing up for these finals for years but getting out of a group that contains the Dutch, Senegal and Ecuador will be tough.

They have home advantage and will be used to the soaring temperatures, however, so they 5/1 on offer at Paddy Power for Qatar to qualify looks overpriced.

Belgium’s Golden Generation are beginning to get into their silver years and their Nations League for has been poor. So it could be worth backing Croatia to pip them to top spot in Group F (5/2, McBookie).


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