World Cup 2022
With winter, rather than summer, taking center stage this year, it will be a very different World Cup we will witness in Qatar. National players will be competing not at the end of very long club seasons but right in the middle of them. Additionally, Western Hemisphere teams will have to make do with friendlies in preparation for the tourney while European teams will be competing at higher levels in UEFA’s Nations League this fall. Asian and African teams will have last contested continental play in February of 2022, over half a year ago. One hardly needs to wonder which national teams will be in the best of forms in November-December.
Qatar has often explained how the weather will not be a factor in the competition given the controlled climates at training facilities and the stadiums at which the tourney will be played. But with the exception of those experiencing the current heat wave in Europe, northern and more moderate clime teams better hope the host nation keeps its word or their teams’ forms will wilt in the desert.
Finally, it will be important to note how the officiating goes at this quadrennial competition and not only in terms of the perennial advantages given the big fish over the little fish, or the favoritism those teams that historically reach deep into the tourney seem to enjoy. This year a number of teams will be arriving expecting compensatory refereeing performances to make up for such inexcusable happenstances as Denmark “missing” the Euro final, Brazil “conceding” the Copa America one, or even Qatar for throwing the Gold Cup. Let’s keep a close eye.
It has been a busy transfer market this summer what with the likes of FC Barcelona, financially ailing but perennially capable of buying players, splurging to purchase Robert Lewandoski from Bayern Munich, while the Bavarians purchased Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus and Sadio Mane from Liverpool.
Paulo Dybala went on a free transfer from Juve to Roma, Kalidou Koulibaly was purchased by Chelsea from Napoli, Raphinha was bought by…you won’t believe it, but Barcelona from Leeds United, while a rejuvenated Christian Eriksen moved from Brentford to Manchester United and Raheem Sterling left Manchester City to join Chelsea.
Juve obtained Paul Pogba on a free transfer from Man United and Angel Di Maria from PSG. Gabriel Jesus moved from Man City to Arsenal and Richarlison was bought by Tottenham from Everton. Meanwhile, Real Madrid let Gareth Bale go to LAFC on a free transfer, while purchasing Antonio Rudiger from Chelsea and Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco.
The top five biggest signings were Tchouameni ($88.86M) Darwin Nunez ($83.26M) by Liverpool from Benfica, Erling Haaland ($66.59M) by Man City from Borussia Dortmund, Richarlison ($64.45M), and Jesus ($57.94).
An interesting take on the Mbappe deal with PSG came out in May in the New York Times, at the same time as the BBC was taking a different angle on the deal’s impact. Meanwhile, ESPN had a thoughtful piece on Berhalter’s first 50 games in charge of the USMNT, and Yahoo Sports had a World Cup 2022 update on technology and officiating.
Darwin Nunez photo. Source: Shutterstock Stock Photo ID: 2135173515– Maciej Rogowski Photo