FIFA will release the qualifying draw in July of this year. Nothing that happens from the qualifying draw should have any real impact on current futures.
The usual suspects are among current favorites, with Brazil (+500), defending champs France (+650), Germany (+700), Spain (+850), England (+1000), and Belgium (+1200) leading the way.
What favorites are over- and undervalued?
First, among the favorites, if we’re going to nitpick, France should be at least a co-favorites with Brazil. They’ll likely have the best player on the planet by 2022 (Kylian Mbappé) and stars just coming out of their prime like Paul Pogba (29 in 2022) and Antoine Griezmann (though at 31, he may be too long in the tooth by then). They have a strong youth pipeline who should be first teamers by then and mix well with the vets, like Sofiane Diop and Aurélien Tchouaméni.
England at +1000 may actually be a bit long. They’ve got as strong of a youth pipeline as any country in the world now (Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Rhian Brewster, Morgan Gibbs-White, etc. etc.). Gareth Southgate got the squad appropriately-achieving in 2018. Could 2022 finally be England’s year?
Belgium likely had their best chance in 2018 and shouldn’t be in that top six mix. That +1200 is more a nod to if the World Cup was played today instead of 2022.
Non-favorites with some value
In reality, there are probably only two teams among the top six who could feasibly contend for the title: Italy (+1600) and Netherlands (+2000).
Italy is a historical power with four World Cup trophies (’34, ’38, ’82, ’06). The country is invested heavily in World Cup success (especially after, you know, pulling a US and not qualifying in 2018). They have rising youth talent (Sandro Tonali, Moise Kean, Nicolò Zaniolo) and a strong domestic league with more TV revenue coming in (which can, in theory, give clubs the resources they need to develop more talent). For Italy, it’ll come down to how much top-shelf talent develops by 2022 compared to the other favorites.
Same goes for the Netherlands. Frenkie de Jong will be right in his prime by 2022. Matthijs de Ligt will be right at the start of his. Those two will both be playing at the highest club levels and provide a formidable duo up the middle of the field. If a (by then) 31 year-old Virgil van Dijk is 80% of who he is today, when paired with de Ligt, the Netherlands would have potentially the best center-back combination in the world.
From there, their fate likely rests on how well Ajax can develop a Dutch striker (or two) who can be a star in the attacking third to the degree de Jong and de Ligt are in the middle and back.
What about the USMNT?
The US is appropriately priced at +1000.
The good news: they should cruise out of qualifying this go around. They have too much talent not to make the trip to Qatar.
Also, the US is developing talent much better (as in, we’re sending our best talent overseas for others to develop).
The bad news: It’s still likely 2026 (on our home soil) before we can mention the US as a potential real challenger for a World Cup title.
All of the current talent (Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Timothy Weah) will be on the tail-end or smack dab in the middle of their primes. They’ll (presumably) have a World Cup under their belt.
It’s a long ways out, but 2026 could be the first time the US lives up to the promise and hope delivered back in 1994 and legitimately challenges for a title.