World Cup 2022 predictions: The favourites to lift the trophy in Qatar
Excitement is building for the Qatar World Cup with the start of the tournament now less than six months away.
European champions Italy are notable absentees but the other big guns will be there and have genuine ambitions of going all the way to the final.
It looks a wide open World Cup with scope for a surprise package like Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark.
France look to defend their crown
No team has won back-to-back World Cups since Brazil's triumphs in 1958 and 1962, but a successful defence of the trophy could be staged by France, who look the likeliest winners in Qatar.
Les Bleus triumphed at Russia 2018, although they performed well below par at Euro 2020.
They did not lose any of their matches in normal time at the Euros and have an unbeaten sequence of 28 competitive games stretching back to June 2019 when they lost 2-0 away to Turkey in a European Championship qualifier.
Didier Deschamps' side are tough to beat thanks to a top-class goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris and a strong defence well protected by midfield dynamo N'Golo Kante.
Offensively they are not always the most attractive to watch but they possess Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema, who can make the difference in the biggest games.
France had to get past Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium in the knockout stages to reach the final in Russia and they may end up in the tougher half of the draw in Qatar.
England can take final step
England are potential quarter-final opponents and will be eager to take the final step after reaching the semi-finals in Russia and the final at Euro 2020.
Gareth Southgate has some fantastic attacking options but his defence looks in need of protection.
That may cause the Three Lions' boss to pursue an excessively cautious approach as was the case against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
England will be a danger to anyone but their best chance of glory might have passed them by last summer.
South American contenders
Brazil and Argentina will lead the South American challenge after breezing through qualifying and both will be eager to improve after falling below expectations four years ago.
Of the two, Brazil appear to have the tougher draw with Switzerland, Serbia and Cameroon joining them in Group G.
The Selecao should advance but they could be softened up by the start of the knockout stages and may struggle to go all the way.
Argentina have a better chance to ease their way into the tournament and could reach the final.
Belgium's powers appear to be waning with a few of their key players approaching the twilight of their careers.
Germany have plenty to prove after poor showings at recent major tournaments and the Netherlands must respond after their surprise last-16 defeat to the Czech Republic at Euro 2020.
But there is perhaps more chance of a strong challenge from Iberian nations Portugal and Spain, who could meet in the quarter-finals.
Spain looked like an exciting, progressive team at Euro 2020 and Portugal are packed with talented individuals, including evergreen talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.