The World’s Biggest Stage: Enloe’s Predictions


Once every four years, the most viewed sporting event in the world takes place: the World Cup. The soccer tournament, which brings teams from all over the world, dwarfs every other sports and entertainment event in viewership. The NBA finals average 12.4 million viewers a game, the Super Bowl brings in around 100 million viewers, the Stanley Cup finals average around 4.6 million viewers a game, and the World Series average 11.2 million viewers. However, these 128.2 million combined viewers amount to just 3.5% of the staggering 3.57 BILLION people that tuned in for the last World Cup final in 2018. 

Out of the 3.57 billion viewers, only 15 million United States residents watched the World Cup. That is a huge disconnect in terms of the size of the United States and displays the potential for the growth of the sport in the country. So for all people considering watching it, here’s a quick explanation of why you should, as well as a quick guide to the tournament. 

The World Cup began on November 20th in Qatar, with the host nation playing the first match against Ecuador. That commenced the group stages, in which 32 teams were paired into groups of 4. Each team will play each other once, with a win earning 3 points, a tie earning 1 point, and a loss earning none. The two teams with the most points from each group will advance to the knockout stage. The knockout stage is a win or go home tournament, consisting of the round of 16, quarterfinals, semi-finals, third place game, and final. 

The 2022 World Cup will be the final World Cup for some of the biggest names to ever play a sport. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have established themselves as some of the best to ever touch a soccer ball. They have collected every award possible, won every competition possible, but there is one thing they both have failed to attain: the World Cup. Messi suffered heartbreak in 2014, losing in overtime in the World Cup final to Germany, and Ronaldo narrowly missed out on the world’s biggest stage in 2006, losing to France in the semi-finals. Ronaldo will captain Portugal, and Messi will captain Argentina to Qatar this winter, in search of the one thing that has escaped their grasp for the last 2 decades. Argentina comes in as favorites to win, with Portugal being less considered because of their recent record, but never fully counted out given their star striker. 

Now that you know about the World Cup, you may be struggling to decide on a team to support. Here are some things to consider. 

Patriotism: The United States are back in the World Cup after missing out in 2018.

The Favorites: Lionel Messi looks to lead Argentina to their first World Cup win since 1986.

The Dark Horse: Kevin de Bruyne and Belgium are pushing for their first World Cup with the remnants of their golden generation, consisting of some of the best talent in Belgium’s history.

Jogo Bonito: Jogo Bonito is Portuguese for the beautiful game, and Brazil certainly lives up to it with some of the most skilled players in the world.

The Underdogs: Canada are the 8th least likely team to win according to betting odds, but with young stars like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, they have the potential to make a surprise run.

Redemption: Cristiano Ronaldo had a rough start to the club season with Manchester United, but is looking to fight for a World Cup with Portugal.

Student Predictions 

Neal Ewen: Senior

Argentina: “They haven’t lost in close to two years and they have arguably the best player on the planet. This team will die for each other and it would be poetic for Messi to finally win one.”

Adam Burchell: Senior

Brazil: “They have the most complete squad and are long overdue to win one. With an aging squad, this could be their best chance.”

Kian Lowe: Senior

Argentina: “The GOAT”

Carter Shedd: Sophomore

Argentina: “Brazil will be a big competitor, but as a Messi fan, I hope Argentina will win so he can end his career on a good note.”