The 2022 World Cup is over. The stars have shone, shocking results have shown that soccer truly is a global game, some new names have emerged, and in the end, Argentina lifted its third World Cup (although in reality, history is Lionel Messi winning his first on the fifth attempt in a brilliant career).
But with Qatar 2022 now consigned to history, and only 3 1/2 years to go until the next World Cup takes place in the United States, Mexico and Canada, it’s time to look ahead to see how that tournament will play out with some too early. predictions for 2026.
– World Cup 2022: News and reports | Support | Results
PS: If you think it’s too early, why not check out our too early predictions for 2022 from four years ago?
No great nation will be lost
Every World Cup takes place with at least one heavyweight nation failing to qualify: Italy missed out on 2018 and 2022, while Colombia, Chile and Egypt also missed out on Qatar 2022. But with the World Cup in 2026 expanding from 32 to 48 participants. nations, it will be harder to miss out on a spot than to qualify for the most powerful teams.
– What will the World Cup be like in 2026?
Europe will get three additional places and South America another two, with four additional places for Asia and Africa. Hosts USA, Mexico and Canada will automatically qualify, but there will still be three other CONCACAF qualifiers, meaning it would take a really bad qualifying campaign to miss out on in 2026.
Get ready for some big scores
The downside of an expanded World Cup will be a bigger gap in quality between the top teams and those that only make it by virtue of the additional qualifying spots.
Japan beat Germany and Spain in Qatar, while Morocco defeated Belgium, Spain and Portugal en route to becoming Africa’s first semi-finalists. But will the eighth best team from Africa or Asia (at the moment, that would be Mali or the United Arab Emirates) really be competitive in 2026? Will New Zealand finally win a game at a World Cup (Oceania has a guaranteed qualifying spot) after coming back winless from two previous tournaments?
Bigger World Cups mean bigger opportunities for nations to qualify, but when they get there it could be a pretty steep learning curve against the top teams.
Get ready for Haaland v. mbappe
Norway haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1998, but with Manchester City striker Haaland and Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard now helming the team, it’s hard to imagine they won’t make it in 2026. from France, Mbappe, already has two brilliant World Cup tournaments. to name him from 2018 and 2022, but Haaland is the only player right now who can challenge him as soccer’s most exciting star.
The 2026 World Cup needs Haaland, and he is such a potent goalscorer that Norway should be able to claim one of Europe’s 16 qualifying spots to ensure he plays on football’s biggest stage.
More tears for Neymar and Brazil
No player is under more pressure to perform at a World Cup than neymarbut in 2014, 2018 and 2022, injuries would deny the Brazilian forward the chance to fulfill his role as the nation’s talisman.
The Paris Saint-Germain player moved to the level of First on 77 goals as Brazil’s all-time top scorer during Qatar 2022, so his on-field contribution for the country cannot be questioned. But the World Cups have been cruel to Neymar, and he will be 34 when the next one starts. Can he really lead Brazil to glory in 2026?
Brazil ended a 24-year wait to become world champions again at USA 94, so they hope they can close the same gap in 2026, after losing and winning in 2002. But with age catching up with Neymar and key players like Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves Y casemiro unlikely to be around in 2026, World Cup glory seems like a distant dream for this one Selection Generation.
Taylor Twellman discusses Brazil’s “inescapable” loss to Croatia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.
America will exceed expectations
The United States has much to be optimistic about going into 2026 and the tournament may become the best in the USMNT in modern times.
Yes, they have problems to overcome. Like many teams, they still don’t have a proven goalscorer to win the closest of games, and there are valid question marks over coach Gregg Berhalter’s ability to take the team to the next level. But the US has a young and talented squad, including players who play regularly in the UEFA Champions League and Europe’s top leagues.
Christian Pulisic, tyler adams, weston mckennie, yunus musah, Timothy Weah and Gio Reyna will be at or near their peak in 2026, so the future is bright. With local support and a favorable draw, the US can go beyond the quarterfinals, a stage it last reached in 2002, and really go deep in 2026.
Without Kane, without glory for England
England will suffer more World Cup disappointments in 2026, with or without harry kane. If the Tottenham striker is still in the team when the tournament starts (he turns 33 in July 2026), that will be a big problem for England, because Kane’s goal threat has already started to wane.
Since losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 final in July 2021, Kane has scored 15 goals for England, but seven have come from penalties, including two of the four goals he scored in a 10-0 win against San Marino. in November 2021. He’s dropping deeper to find the ball and no longer offers the kind of focal point that Olivier Giroud so successfully foresees France.
Without Kane, however, England have no reliable goalscorer, and there is no obvious successor to emerge in the future. So unless England finds a new striker, football is not coming home. Again.
Steve McManaman praises England’s performance despite losing 2-1 to France at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Germany, Spain and Italy recover
Germany, Spain and Italy have won nine World Cups between them, but Qatar 2022 was a tournament to forget for everyone. Euro 2020 champions Italy failed to even qualify, while Germany lost in the group stage for the second successive tournament, and Spain were eliminated on penalties after drawing 0-0 with Morocco in the round of 16.
Germany coach Hansi Flick has already talked about big changes, and you can bet the 2014 World Cup winners will be strong and competitive in 2026, led by the dazzling talent of jamal musiala. Spain also has too much talent to be down for long, with gavi, Pedro, nico williams Y dani olmo Everything ready to form the backbone of the new team, although the coach Luis Enrique will not be there, since he resigned as a result of The Red leaving the tournament.
As for Italy, after missing two consecutive World Cups, they will not fail for the third time. It is time for Italy to recover, and it will.
A World Cup with a bigger and better VAR that sees everything
The 2026 World Cup could see how artificial intelligence turns VAR into a flawless concept that eradicates all debate about refereeing decisions.
Is it a jump too far? Perhaps, but VAR has developed rapidly since it was first introduced to FIFA tournaments during the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. In Qatar, we had a semi-automatic offside that worked successfully and more new technology is inevitable between now and 2026 that will take off-pitch decisions and VAR to a new level.
Who will be the young stars to watch out for?
England Jude Bellinghamthe German midfielder Musiala and the Spanish Gavi and Pedri have already announced themselves on the world stage of Qatar 2022. What about those young stars who did not play in this World Cup, but could be stars in 2026?
keep watch Benjamin Sesco, the Slovenian striker, who has become one of the hottest young talents in Europe with FC Salzburg. And while Brazilian striker Endrick is just 16, his recent signing by Real Madrid suggests he could be a big part of Brazil’s plans in 2026, when he will be 19 at the start of the tournament.
manchester united Alexander Garnachonow 18, he will surely be a big part of Argentina’s plans in 2026, while Florian Wirtz Y Youssoufa Moukoko They are likely to be established names in the Germany squad by the time the next World Cup rolls around.
the one from manchester city cole palmer he is another youngster who will have his sights set on 2026 with the England national team.
Who will win the prizes?
The race for the Golden Boot will be between Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland. Julián Álvarez of Argentina will be in the conversation, but without Messi creating chances, the Manchester City striker will be lost. If Norway qualifies, Haaland will win the Golden Boot.
The Golden Glove goes to the goalkeeper who concedes the fewest goals, so after Italian Gianluigi Donnarumma won it four years ago at Qatar 2022, it’s only fair to back the Paris Saint-Germain keeper to finally have him in your league. hands in 2026.
The best young player will be Jamal Musiala. By 2026, he will be 23 years old, and he will almost certainly be the driving force behind Germany’s hopes.
The biggest surprise of the tournament? In addition to the fact that the USA could reach the semifinals, we are going for Mexico because the advantage of playing in Mexico City and Guadalajara will be huge for The Tri. They will also be desperate to bounce back from a group stage exit in Qatar. They have the players and the fans, so Mexico can go far in 2026.
So who will win the 2026 World Cup?
France. In case of doubt, she returns to France. Kylian Mbappe will be just 25 when the next World Cup rolls around, and he will be supported by what seems to be an endless supply of new talent within the French establishment. But Germany and Italy will also be competitive in 2026.