Football’s greatest showpiece is right around the corner, with 32 nations landing in the Gulf State of Qatar to battle it out for the greatest prize in the sport.
The FIFA World Cup is obviously a touchy subject for Italy-based Milanisti, with the Azzuri failing to secure a spot in the desert, shockingly falling at the hands of North Macedonia in the March playoffs. Even so, many of the current Milan squad will be headed to football’s biggest party, which you too can take part in with the information provided by sites such as Oddschecker, who are comparing online bookmakers offering free bets on this year’s World Cup. With the Rossoneri in sensational form this season, just two wins away from a first Scudetto in over a decade, you can expect many of the San Siro club’s stars to feature this winter.
Starting between the sticks, Mike Maignan is highly likely to secure a spot in the France squad. He can expect to deputise for the man who lifted the World Cup four years ago, Les Bleus captain Hugo Lloris.
Maignan has proven to be a reliable last line of defence for Stefano Pioli’s men, replacing the outgoing Gianluigi Donnarumma last summer, who controversially left on a free transfer for PSG.
Marauding left-back Theo Hernandez can also expect a spot in the squad of the reigning champions. Young Hernandez has been a revelation since joining Milan from Real Madrid three years ago, being one of the club’s most consistent performers year in, year out.
In an interesting sub-plot, he may be competing with his brother, Bayern Munich’s Lucas Hernandez, for a place in Didier Deschamps’ starting eleven.
Despite missing all of 2022 thus far, Simon Kjaer, providing he’s fit, should be a shoo-in for the Denmark squad. He impressed during last summer’s European Championships, featuring in the team of the tournament as the Danes reached the semifinals.
A man who should, but possibly won’t, be in Qatar is Fikayo Tomori. The young Englishman must be flabbergasted at what he needs to do to impress Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate, especially with the dismal form of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire.
The majority of Milan’s midfielders won’t be on the plane this winter, due to the fact that most of them represent nations that haven’t qualified for the upcoming World Cup. One man who has an outside chance of featuring is attacking midfielder Brahim Diaz.
Despite him not posting the numbers, Milanistas have become accustomed to, the young Spaniard impressed for the national team debut last summer, scoring in a friendly against Lithuania.
If midfielders will be safely tucked up at their Lombardy homes this winter, Pioli’s wingers most certainly will not. Alexis Saelemaekers is a fully-fledged Belgium international, and he can expect to be in Roberto Martinez’s squad, a squad that will be hoping to go one better than the semifinals they reached four years ago in Russia.
Ante Rebic may be in a Croatia squad that impressed last time out, beating England en-route to being tournament runners-up. In Russia four years ago, he scored important goals against Argentina and in the quarter-final with the hosts, and he too will be hoping to impress again.
However, he has not played for his country in some time due to a fall-out with the Croatian FA over criticism of the head coach after the European championships.
Cristiano Ronaldo can expect the assistance of Rafael Leao in the Portugal setup. Leao has been in scintillating form this season, with his manager Pioli even likening him to Thierry Henry. If it continues at the start of the next campaign, he can expect a call up to Fernando Santos’ setup.
In the striking department, unfortunately, 2022’s edition of football’s greatest competition will be another instalment without the maverick Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose Swedish side fell to Poland at the final hurdle. One veteran who may yet end up in Qatar is Olivier Giroud.
The veteran target man will be 36 by the time this winter’s tournament rolls around, but has been a key figure in Milan’s march to the Scudetto, and is a man that Didier Deschamps knows he can rely on even if he hasn’t been called up for recent games.