It’s only May at the time of writing, but before the footballing world and the fans know it, Qatar 2022 will be here. Thirty-two teams will battle it out in the competition, all hoping to reach the final and win the greatest sporting prize on the planet: the World Cup.
This year, the tournament gets under way on 21 November and continues through to 18 December. It will be the first time an Arab nation has hosted the World Cup. The opening game will take place between Senegal and the Netherlands in group A. Later on the same day, the hosts, Qatar, will go up against Ecuador.
Below is a look at West Ham winger and forward Jarrod Bowen, who is hoping to make it onto the national squad that will head out to Qatar, and also at England’s own prospects of winning the World Cup. Could this be the year the Three Lions bring the trophy home?
Will Jarrod Bowen play for England?
Jarrod Bowen has been in unbelievable form for the Hammers and was part of the side that tore Aston Villa apart 4-1 in October 2021, a game in which Bowen himself got on the scoresheet. Add to that his tireless running up and down the week, as well as his general threatening presence on the attack to other teams, and you have several reasons already for the calls for him to play for England in this World Cup.
The shouts for Gareth Southgate to get on the phone to Bowen for England duty look as if they’re only going to get louder. One of the chief voices for the Hammer to join the squad has come from football pundit and former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who did so on Twitter in amusing fashion by posting a Phil Mitchell GIF as part of the call.
Southgate has admitted that Bowen is on his radar, but that the two men have not gotten round to having the final conversation, due to an injury to Bowen.
Delivering a fine service to the Hammers
So far, Bowen has gotten on the scoresheet 12 times in league games. He’s also chalked up 10 goal assists.
The performance at Aston Villa was just one of several standout moments while Bowen has been serving the Hammers. Another dazzling performance, which prompted the call from Wright, was in the team’s recent 2-2 draw with Manchester City, in which Bowen put the ball in the back of the net both times for the Londoners.
Although there is something dated about the way Bowen trains — for instance, he runs in his uncle’s potato fields to increase his stamina — a style that allows him to improve year upon year, there’s something endearing about it. More importantly, this style is paying dividends on the pitch. Bowen isn’t easy to control on the pitch. He just keeps coming relentlessly at the defenders. Eventually, all his running wears them down, which makes it easier for him to get into scoring positions.
What about England’s chances of winning the World Cup?
Of course, like many other sports events, the World Cup is one on which many people will be keeping a close eye on the betting odds and placing a bet on their favoured team. Bookies that are available online will already have some world cup odds available for those punters wanting to place an ante-post bet to get some of the best odds.
As hopeful as England fans might be that the Three Lions could be the ones to lift the World Cup, the bookies don’t see it the same way. Brazil are the favourites, then it’s a tie between England and France as the second biggest favourites to get their hands on the trophy.
Some might shrug their shoulders at seeing Germany only be the sixth main favourites. If not Brazil, England or France, then Spain are the bookmakers’ fourth main pick for winning the tournament. Failing that, they see the World Cup going back to South America with Argentina.
Photo by Unsplash
Who will England play?
England are in group B, along with the USA, Iran and either Wales, the Ukraine or Scotland, depending on who triumphs in the UEFA playoffs.
Southgate’s men will face Iran first, on 21 November, at the Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan. They’ll have three days to rest or train as they see fit before going up against the USA on 25 November, this time at the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor. Their final match in the group will be against the winner of the UEFA playoffs, which could be either the Ukraine, Scotland or Wales.
Should England make it through to the last 16, either as runners up or as winners of the group, they’ll be facing either Ecuador, Senegal, Qatar or — and they’ll likely be hoping to avoid this — the Netherlands.
Inspired by their fourth-place finish at Russia 2018 and their performance in the Euro 2020, England will be feeling confident glory could be theirs at Qatar 2022. They’ve been in ruthless form against Albania, San Marino, Andorra and Hungary in their qualifying matches. Even though Poland made qualification a slightly tougher affair, forcing a draw in one, they still succumbed 2-1 to England in another, so England will still be feeling optimistic.
The World Cup is still months away, but the excitement is starting to build already. Will Bowen get a call-up? Will England put their Euro 2020 woes behind them and go all the way this time? The world will just have to wait and see.