‘Like Christmas for football fans’. This year, that oft-used description of the FIFA World Cup is as apt as it’s ever likely to get as, for the first time in its glittering history, we head for a winter tournament in the desert dunes of Qatar.
It will surely feel a little strange to have the world’s biggest and most iconic football competition take place in November and December. But a FIFA World Cup is a FIFA World Cup. You won’t catch any of us complaining when the month-long festival of football finally gets underway.
Especially because there’s simply too much to look ahead to. This may very well be one of the last FIFA World Cup appearances for the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But certainly not the last for Kylian Mbappe, Vinicius Jr, Pedri, Phil Foden and other mercurial young talents.
Indeed, Qatar will play host to a heady mix of superstars all chasing the same thing – the ultimate glory some might say – the prize every footballer wants to win. For some, their legacy may depend on winning it. For others, the chance to lace up for a FIFA World Cup is a prize itself worth savouring.
But who’ll take the top honours? And who’s about to breakout on the biggest stage? Well, that’s where our staff come in… sort of. Here are our predictions…
But first! You’ll want to check out our incredible collection of official FIFA World Cup memorabilia comprising signed and unsigned items from stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.
Dan Jamieson, CEO
Winners: I think ARGENTINA have a good mix of youth and veteran talent, tournament-winning experience at the most recent Copa America, and a certain Mr Messi to pull the strings while others doing the running.
Runner-up: Can you imagine the hype before a Ronaldo v Messi final? Though I think its actually PORTUGAL‘s supporting cast who will take centre stage as the tournament goes on.
Surprise Package: With Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez up top, URUGUAY guarantee action, controversy and no defender knowing what the hell is coming next.
Surprise Early Exit: SPAIN find themselves in a tough group and lack the goals to get them out of sticky situations.
Golden Ball: I’ve got Argentina as my favourites and I think lots of games could come down to penalties. With that in mind, I’m going with EMI MARTINEZ who, don’t forget, won the Golden Glove at the Copa America.
Young Player of the Tournament: Remember the name: Argentina’s ENZO FERNANDEZ. He’ll be coming to a Premier League team soon…
Golden Boot: Strangely both overrated and underrated, we are big fans of JOAO FELIX at Icons and hope he can emerge from CR7’s shadow.
Golden Glove: See above: EMI MARTINEZ.
England will… do as their ranking suggests. We’re fifth in the world so we’ll give it all we’ve got and come close to winning a quarter-final, taking the lead but losing on penalties.
Bold prediction: Penalties will decide many of the most crucial matches as teams conserve energy, keep men behind the ball and take their chances in the lottery that is the shootout.
Ben Soley, Head of Sales
Winners: As well as a typically star-studded strikeforce featuring Neymar Jr, Vinicius Jnr, Richarlison and Raphinha, this BRAZIL team also has a strong (albeit ageing) defence and midfield spine.
Runner-up: BELGIUM’s next generation is already coming through (I’m looking at you Charles de Ketelaere), and I’m backing the old guard of Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku to make the final.
Surprise Package: SERBIA have a sturdy keeper in Vanja Milinkovic-Savic and mainstay midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (no relation) but it’s their front-line which is really noteworthy. Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic are amongst the most feared goal scorers in their respective leagues.
Surprise Early Exit: Four of the last five defending champions haven’t got past the group stages. The holders never do well. It seems wild to suggest, but FRANCE will sorely miss Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante, heading home before the end of the quarter-finals.
Golden Ball: LIONEL MESSI is in great form and it’s his last FIFA World Cup tournament – surely the stage is set for a fairytale goodbye?
Young Player of the Tournament: PEDRI. This kid is the real deal. I saw him live recently and he blew my mind.
Golden Boot: MEMPHIS DEPAY does not have the easiest of groups but I expect the Netherlands’ record-scorer to play at least four games and take penalties.
Golden Glove: EDOUARD MENDY.
England will… go out in the quarter-finals in return to form for FIFA’s fifth-best ranked team.
Bold prediction(s): A meagre three goals will be scored across both semi-finals, as the long season and high stakes force teams to play it safe. Penalties will decide at least one of those semi-finals. Mitrovic will get more goals than cards when he plays. Achraf Hakimi will score a Goal of the Tournament-worthy screamer.
Mike Davis, Financial Director
Winners: ARGENTINA. I think the Messi Factor will be too strong for the rest of the field to counter.
Runner-up: Messi will face Cristiano Ronaldo and PORTUGAL in a superstar final.
Surprise Package: URUGUAY will cause a stir.
Surprise Early Exit: I think FRANCE’s individuals will fail to click in defence of their title.
Golden Ball: BRUNO GUIMARAES
Young Player of the Tournament: AURELIEN TCHOUAMENI
Golden Boot: LIONEL MESSI
Golden Glove: ALISSON BECKER
England will… fail to inspire and exit at the quarter-final stage.
Bold prediction: Germany will fail to qualify from their group.
Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor
Winners: Never before has a FIFA World Cup been played at this time of year, throwing a lot of the usual prep work to the wall. Given the unusual build-up and the fact we’re due an underdog winner, I’m going with BELGIUM.
Runner-up: You’ll struggle to find a bigger Lionel Messi fan than I so it will be difficult for me when ARGENTINA come one shy again.
Surprise Package: I believe… I believe that… I believe the USMNT will go on a superb run to the quarter-finals – just in time to inspire a new generation of fans ahead of their hosting duties at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Surprise Early Exit: FRANCE are the world champions at doing exceptionally well at one FIFA World Cup then crashing out amid scandal and controversy at the next. Plus ça change.
Golden Ball: Competition officials won’t be able to resist the chance to hand LIONEL MESSI another award. Anything for a photo with the great one.
Young Player of the Tournament: FC Barcelona midfielder PEDRI is primed to take the next step into superstardom.
Golden Boot: Given the scoring opportunities England’s group present, HARRY KANE must have the best shot (pun fully intended).
Golden Glove: There’s no better name – nor better fairytale story – than that of REMKO PASVEER. Is it possible to be a rising star at 39-years-old?
England will… advance through to the latter stages of this tournament in miraculous fashion. A semi-final loss to Belgium will be reminiscent of their deep run at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Bold prediction(s): A VAR-related scandal will suspend a knockout game for long enough that the players temporarily leave for the dressing rooms while officials frantically try to resolve the situation. In search of a dramatic late equaliser, a goalkeeper will hit the post.
David Cox, Head of Operations
Winners: SPAIN have an all-round solid team with a plethora of up-and-coming stars. Look out for Gavi at this tournament!
Runner-up: Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema will lead FRANCE to a second consecutive final.
Surprise Package: DENMARK always seem to show up when it comes to tournament football.
Surprise Early Exit: Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent interview will have an effect across the whole of PORTUGAL‘s camp.
Golden Ball: I may be slightly biased but no-one can pass a ball like KEVIN DE BRUYNE.
Young Player of the Tournament: GAVI is going to be one of the world’s best.
Golden Boot: KARIM BENZEMA. Unplayable on his day.
Golden Glove: Ederson won’t be first choice (who knows why?!) so best go for Brazil’s second choice, ALISSON BECKER.
England will… reach the quarter-finals and crumble.
Bold prediction: More than one bicycle kick will be scored at the tournament.
Jamie White, Digital Content Producer
Winners: I think this FIFA World Cup is catered for a South American winner. For me, BRAZIL have the strongest squad and have the best chance in the hot conditions.
Runner-up: I just did a tournament predictor and my second favourite, Argentina, will meet Brazil in the semi-finals while on the other side of the draw I fancy PORTUGAL to make the final.
Surprise Package: SENEGAL. I fancy an African team to become the tournament’s surprise package.
Surprise Early Exit: SPAIN or GERMANY have a tough group with Japan – I feel like there could be a surprise casualty there!
Golden Ball: After our recent signing session with LIONEL MESSI, word has it he is fully focused on the FIFA World Cup and with his form going into Qatar I fancy him to have a great tournament.
Young Player of the Tournament: I think JUDE BELLINGHAM will be a stand-out player for England, or if Germany do well, I fancy Jamal Musiala to shine as one of the competition’s best players.
Golden Boot: LIONEL MESSI, closely followed by Darwin Nunez or Vinicius Jr.
Golden Glove: ALISSON BECKER is the best keeper in the world in the best team at the tournament.
England will… go out in the quarter-finals. The Three Lions will beat Iran comfortably in the opening game, then make difficult work of both the USA and Wales in the groups.
Bold prediction: Japan to knock out a heavy-hitter in Spain or Germany.
Ryan Butterworth, Head of Video Content
Winners: ARGENTINA‘s form over the last few years has been great. With their team and, of course, Lionel Messi, I think they will just edge the tournament.
Runner-up: I think we will see a PORTUGAL vs Argentina final – the battle of the GOATs! It’s a match made in heaven and could be the final decider between two greats. Portugal look very strong all over the pitch.
Surprise Package: URUGUAY are a solid team across the pitch. I think they have been underestimated and may shock the world.
Surprise Early Exit: FRANCE. I think the FIFA World Cup curse will be back. We have seen it previously and, in most tournaments, a big team falls early.
Golden Ball: BERNARDO SILVA
Young Player of the Tournament: VINICIUS JR
Golden Boot: DARWIN NUNEZ
Golden Glove: EMI MARTINEZ
England will… make it to the quarter finals. I think we will give it everything but fall just short with a 1-0 or 2-1 defeat.
Bold prediction: Japan shock the competition and top their group!
Dan Rushton, Customer Support
Winners: ARGENTINA haven’t been beaten in 35 games and I can’t see any team at these FIFA World Cup finals that can break that streak. Lionel Messi is going to lead his nation to their third world title.
Runner-up: Holders FRANCE are still more than capable of winning it with the likes of Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele but may fall at the final hurdle.
Surprise Package: MOROCCO have one of the best right-backs in the world in Achraf Hakimi and if Hakim Ziyech is in form they could be the team to watch.
Surprise Early Exit: It’s bold but I’m thinking GERMANY. They have a tough group!
Golden Ball: I just have a feeling that LIONEL MESSI going to smash it this year. His club form is improving, which will only benefit Argentina.
Young Player of the Tournament: I can’t name a better young midfielder at the tournament than JUDE BELLINGHAM. This is a massive year for Jude and I think he’ll carry on impressing on the biggest stage.
Golden Boot: KARIM BENZEMA will bag plenty of goals in the group stage and early knockout stages.
Golden Glove: I think Portugal will have a tough time defensively and I think DIOGO COSTA will be called upon a lot – he will have to make some huge saves.
England will… be passionate… but the football will be bland. They’ll get to the quarter-finals and get knocked out by stronger opposition.
Bold prediction: Cristiano Ronaldo will be hungry for success – he’ll be back.
Will Franklin, Sales Executive
Winners: I see ARGENTINA winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Lionel Messi will lift the trophy to complete a phenomenal career.
Runner-up: The final will be an all-South American affair with Argentina coming out on top of BRAZIL.
Surprise Package: I believe SWITZERLAND will have another great tournament.
Surprise Early Exit: 2014 winners GERMANY will struggle at this year’s tournament.
Golden Ball: LIONEL MESSI
Young Player of the Tournament: JUDE BELLINGHAM
Golden Boot: KYLIAN MBAPPE
Golden Glove: Aston Villa’s number one, EMILIANO MARTINEZ
England will… have a solid tournament, hopefully. That said, I can’t help but think we’ll be too defensive in the big games.
Bold prediction: Spain have a great young squad – I think they’ll reach the semi-finals.
Dan Hunt, Accounts Assistant
Winners: I think ARGENTINA will win. They haven’t lost a game for three years and Messi will triumph at the final FIFA World Cup he plays in.
Runner-up: If PORTUGAL win their group I think they will lose in the final.
Surprise Package: URUGUAY have a good squad and have a chance to go a long way in this tournament – maybe even win it.
Surprise Early Exit: FRANCE have been struggling recently in the UEFA Nations League so their FIFA World Cup curse may continue.
Golden Ball: LIONEL MESSI
Young Player of the Tournament: PEDRI
Golden Boot: LIONEL MESSI
Golden Glove: EMI MARTINEZ
England will… bottle it, as usual, and lose in the quarter-finals.
Bold prediction: Japan will eliminate either Spain or Germany in their group.