World Cup 2022: Listing 50 reasons to be excited now

In this photo illustration, an official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ball sits on display in front of the skyline of Doha ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 draw on March 31, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is now just 100 days away, and the excitement surrounding the tournament is starting to feel palpable.

Here are 50 things, in no particular order, that we're looking forward to or hoping to see when play begins in Qatar, starting Nov. 20. 

1. Christian Eriksen to steal the show

An on-field heart attack during last summer's Euros nearly cost the Danish midfielder his life, but Eriksen made a full recovery and is now back atop his game. He's also the centerpiece of the most talented Denmark World Cup entry in decades, one capable of making a deep run.

2. Can Mexico finally win a knockout game? 

El Tri has survived the group stage and advanced to the second round at seven straight tournaments. Seven straight times, Mexico lost their first knockout game. Will either streak end in Qatar? 

3. Young USMNT to advance to quarterfinals

Getting to Qatar was Job 1 after the USMNT failed to qualify for 2018. Advancing is now the goal for the youngest team in the field. Christian Pulisic & Co are aiming a lot higher, but reaching the last eight for the first time since 2002 would be a smashing success.

4. Lionel Messi to lift the World Cup 

Unlike in 2018, the revamped Albiceleste is capable of winning it all this time. That would be some swansong for the GOAT; at 35, it's surely Messi's final turn on the global stage.   

5. Cristiano Ronaldo to turn back the clock  

Few players have a better sense of occasion than CR7. Even at 37, don't be surprised if the Portuguese superstar manages to muster a few weeks of magic at his last World Cup.  

6. Germany to contend for the title 

Die Mannschaft has plenty to prove after going three-and-out as defending champs four years ago.  

7. Senegal to make history 

No African team has reached a World Cup semifinal. Headlined by Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane, the Lions of Teranga have the best chance of any of the continent's entries this year.

8. Christian Pulisic to become a household name  

The USMNT frontman was supposed to become a mainstream darling in his home country in 2018. He had to wait four years, but that time is coming in November.

9. That massive U.S.-England match 

The Black Friday matchup between the favored Three Lions and upstart Yanks promises to draw record viewership in the U.S.

10. Thanksgiving Day Futbol 

There are four Turkey Day matches: Switzerland-Cameroon, Uruguay-South Korea, Portugal-Ghana, Brazil-Serbia

11. Qatar playing in the opener  

The hosts should've had the World Cup opener from the beginning. Now they will, with FIFA officially deciding to move Qatar-Ecuador up a day, to Nov. 20. 

12. The Iran-U.S. rematch  

Team Melli shocked the Americans 2-1 back in 1998. Will the U.S. return the favor this time? 

13. Iran's fans  

Besides the hosts, no team will be better supported by traveling supporters in Qatar.  

14. Canada's first appearance in 36 years  

After topping CONCACAF qualifying, the Reds are looking to make noise at their second World Cup.  

15. The Netherlands back where they belong  

The three-time finalist Dutch finished third in 2014 before missing 2018 entirely. The World Cup is better with the Oranje in it.   

16. Spain-Germany on Nov. 27 

In terms of sheer soccer quality, this might be the best matchup of the group stage.  

17. Robert Lewandowski's goals  

Poland will go as far as their all-world striker will take them. 

18. France's title defense 

While Les Bleus have a habit of taking every other World Cup off, France might actually have better team now than they did four years back.

19. Luka Modric's goodbye  

The Croatian maestro still has it at 36, having just helped Real Madrid win the UEFA Champions League yet again.  

20. A one-city World Cup 

That's basically what Qatar 2022 will be, with every team and its fans based either in the capital of Doha or its outskirts, this World Cup will have more of an Olympic feel.  

21. No in-country flights  

After enduring grueling travel in both Brazil and Russia, Qatar's small size ensures that players and fans won't have to get on a plane again until they leave.  

22. Adidas' Al Rihla match ball  

Arguably the prettiest World Cup ball since the Jabulani in 2010.

23. Concussion spotters  

While FIFA stopped short of approving concussion substitutions for 2022, officials will be on the lookout for head injuries.  

24. The 26-player rosters  

Three extra players per team will earn a World Cup trip this year. Who can argue with that?  

25. The last 32-team event  

The field will expand to 48 when Canada, Mexico and the United States co-host the 2026 World Cup.

26. Ghana's return 

The Black Stars were so much fun to watch in 2006, 2010 and 2014. It's good to see them back after missing out last time.

27. Five available substitutes  

We've gotten so used to seeing five subs at club level over the last two years, it's hard to believe this pandemic-era inspired rule change will be in use at a World Cup for the first time.  

28. Another first-time finalist  

Two of the last three World Cup finals featured a team that had never been there before: Croatia in 2018 and Spain in 2010. Will we see another on Dec. 18?  

29. Women referees  

Never before has a woman officiated a men's World Cup game. That will soon change, with Stéphanie Frappart of France, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Japan's Yoshimi Yamashita among the 36 refs headed to Qatar. 

30. Semi-automated offside technology  

While VAR was a hit four years ago, reviewing offside decisions took too long. The new tech's aim is to speed those checks up.

31. "Foot on the line" rule for keepers 

The three-year-old requirement that goalies keep at least one foot on the line until a penalty is taken will make its debut at a men's World Cup.

32. New iconic kits 

It will be hard to top Brazil's Jaguar-inspired shirts.

33. Brazil's attacking combinations 

With Gabriel Jesus, Neymar, Raphinha, Richarlison, Rodrygo, Vinícius Júnior and others to choose from, Brazil coach Tite can't really go wrong.  

34. Group E 

With Costa Rica and Japan rounding out a foursome that also features European heavyweights Germany and Spain, this one has it all when it comes to different playing styles.  

35. The chip on England's shoulder 

The Three Lions and their fans fancy themselves an elite team but lack the silverware to prove it. England hasn't even reached a World Cup final since their controversial lone win in 1966. 

36. A proper sendoff for Belgium's Golden generation 

The Red Devils came close in 2018, reaching the semis before losing to eventual champ France. With Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard all now in their 30s, this could be their last, best chance.  

37. A rebirth of Spain's magic midfield 

It's not the Iniesta-Xavi duo of La Roja's iconic title winning 2010 squad, but Koke and Rodri are the best combo since — and they still have Sergio Busquets cleaning up behind them.

38. Gregg Berhalter's bounce passes 

If you think the U.S. coach's unorthodox method of throwing the ball to his players has gotten a lot of attention already, just wait.

39. A scrappy Serbian team 

Don't sleep on the Serbs, who could emerge from a difficult group that also contains Brazil, Cameroon and Switzerland.  

40. An older Son Heung-min 

The Premier League's leading scorer last season is primed for huge tournament for the Taegeuk Warriors. 

41. World Cup-worthy celebrations 

Even without the Colombians, there are sure to be plenty of cellies worth remembering  

42. Darwin Nunez's first major international tournament 

Liverpool's $100 million man could be a breakout star for Uruguay.  

43. World-class goalkeeping 

Goals get most of the glory, but an otherworldly save can be just as important and a hot keeper can take a team deep (see Costa Rica's Keylor Navas in 2014).  

44. Breakout stars 

Who will be this tournament's Kylian Mbappe

45. Wales at the World Cup 

Led by LAFC star Gareth Bale, Wales will play its first World Cup game in 56 years when they meet the U.S. on Nov. 21. 

46. World Cup commercials 

More than four years later, the song from that ubiquitous Pepsi ad is still stuck in our heads.

47. Controversial calls 

Just like at the last World Cup, the use of VAR doesn't mean there won't still be decisions to gripe about.  

48. The memes 

Just be thankful you won't see Joachim Löw picking his nose on the sideline this time around.

49. Golazos 

From the mazy solo runs by Pele and Messi to bangers like Cristiano Ronaldo's free kick against Spain in 2018, the most amazing goals scored at World Cups live in the memory forever.

50. The unexpected 

Everything about this World Cup is different. Don't be surprised if what happens on the field is, too.

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