This feels like a wide-open tournament with the climate still a factor despite shifting the dates to the cooler winter temperatures in the region, with games set to be played in over 20 degrees.
The frantic build-up and alien schedule for international players looking to peak at the mid-way point of the season is also likely to become a wildcard.
For the next three weeks, we will help you cut through the World Cup noise by sharing our top tips head of the first kick-off on every day of football at the 2022 World Cup.
From match previews to ambassador insight and picks, we will set you up for the day to come in the best possible way.
As it stands, Brazil are the bookies’s favourites to win the tournament. The five-time world champions are priced at 4/1 to lift the trophy on 18 December, but the five-time winners have plenty of company at the top of the board with eight other teams sitting between 6/1 and 12/1, including Argentina, France, Spain, England and Germany.
And while a strong argument can be made for any of those teams to win the tournament, there is a sleeper hanging out at 40/1 that deserves your attention – Uruguay.
Despite being only the 10th-biggest country in South America, Uruguay has won 15 Copa America titles (tied for most with Argentina) and two World Cups (1930, 1950), making it one of six nations to have hoisted to Jules Rimet Trophy more than once.
On the field, Uruguay ticks a couple of boxes you look for in a sleeper bet. They’ve got experience playing together and there’s plenty of talent on this roster, but what’s most appealing about a bet on La Celeste is their draw.
Uruguay was drawn into Group H, which will pit them against a vulnerable favourite in Portugal and two teams that Uruguay should be able to beat out, South Korea and Ghana.
And even though Portugal is the favourite to win the group, which is critical because the second-place team will likely face Brazil in the Round of 16, that’s not a sure thing. The Portuguese are a high-ceiling, low-floor side and there’s definitely a world where Uruguay is able to finish atop Group H and set up a very winnable showdown with either Serbia, Switzerland or Cameroon.
Long shots don’t win the World Cup, but there have been plenty of sleepers to make deep runs. Turkey (2002), South Korea (2002) and Uruguay (2010) all made it to the semifinals, while Croatia was the runner-up in 2018.
At some point we’ll see a dark horse win the World Cup and the wide-open nature of this field sets up well for a bet on a gate-crasher.
And of the realistic long shots, Uruguay ticks every box.
Winners odds via BestofBets.com