Roll up, roll up for FourFourTwo's 2022 predictions! Bookmark this and laugh at us later...
We asked FFT writers Mark White, Chris Flanagan and Conor Pope who they thought would win the Premier League, Champions League, Championship, Europa League, Women's Euro 2022, World Cup 2022 and the 2022 Ballon d'Or.
Mark White, Staff writer (@markwhlte): Liverpool
Being the outsiders seems to suit Liverpool and in the run-in – with players returning from AFCON/injury – Klopp may well have enough to pip Pep... especially with Manchester City keener on European glory. Even if Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold reduce their current output to 80%, they'll end up dragging the Reds to some kind of silverware in 2022.
Chris Flanagan, Senior staff writer (@CFlanaganFFT): Manchester City
With three titles in the last four years, it's hard to back against Pep Guardiola - the only time he hasn't won the Premier League in recent seasons was when they were way behind by this stage. This time, they're well positioned to kick on and win the race, just like last year.
Conor Pope, Online editor (@Conorpope): Manchester City
Well, it looks like it has to be Manchester City, right? While I'm inclined to agree with Pep Guardiola that the title race can't be ruled as over yet – I'd be surprised if eight points is the narrowest gap we see between now and May – it's easy to see City retaining their top spot all the way until the end of the season.
Mark White: Bayern Munich
They're easily overlooked in comparison to the Premier League sides but they're just as strong as last season – and arguably only went out of the competition last time around because they were missing Robert Lewandowski. Julian Nagelsmann hasn't changed much and would be the fourth different German in a row to lift that famous trophy.
Chris Flanagan: Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp's side breezed through the Group of Death with six wins out of six, and their high-intensity game has always been well suited to success in Europe, particularly if combined with a frenzied atmosphere at Anfield. It will be tough to beat them in a knockout tie.
Conor Pope: Liverpool
I'll stick with my start-of-season prediction of Liverpool. The three English sides (sorry, Man United) look the strongest teams in Europe, and if City do tighten their domestic stranglehold, it'll be Jurgen Klopp's Reds that take this title. AFCON doesn't clash with any Champions League ties, either, so they won't be hit by Salah and Mane absences.
Mark White: Bournemouth
...providing they get their act together. The Cherries have had a bit of a blip but there are plenty of players in that squad too good to be kept down – and the emergence of Jordan Zemura, Jaidon Anthony and Gavin Kilkenny has been great to watch. Scott Parker just needs to stop sitting on leads.
Chris Flanagan: Bournemouth
It looked like a two-horse race between the Cherries and Fulham until both suffered bad runs recently, allowing Blackburn and West Brom to catch up. Scott Parker knows how to get a side promoted though, having done so at Fulham, and has a strong squad at his disposal.
Conor Pope: Fulham
My head still says Fulham, with Aleksander Mitrovic firing them out of their poor spell and opening up some ground against their rivals once more by spring.
But as FFT's resident Blackburn fan, my heart keeps imagining a Chilean tourist-boosted capacity crowd at Ewood Park for the penultimate game of the season – a title decider against promotion rivals Bournemouth...
Mark White: West Ham United
Yes, I'm resisting the urge to back Barcelona and going with David Moyes's tricky Irons. Their group stage performance was nothing short of flawless and actually, the key men in that team – Declan Rice, Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen – could all be playing for Champions League clubs. Worse teams have won it.
Chris Flanagan: Sevilla
True, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund look like the biggest clubs in the Europa League, but we all know it will somehow end up being Sevilla, winners of the competition in 17 of the last 16 seasons. The La Liga side made the critical error of accidentally finishing second in their Champions League group last season - this time they wisely bagged third spot to have another crack at the Europa. Rumour has it 36-year-old Jesus Navas is already practising his trophy-lifting technique, and building an extension to his mantelpiece to make room for his 18th winner's medal.
Conor Pope: Real Betis
This is near impossible to call – which sides might be prepared to sacrifice domestic form for a shot at Europa glory? Real Betis have been impressive in La Liga so far this season, and they could be a dark horse should they beat Zenit in the next round.
Women's Euro 2022
Mark White: Spain
I had the pleasure/horror of watching Arsenal get battered by a Barcelona team in the freezing cold at the Emirates in the Champions League and Barça barely made it into second gear. With a Barca spine of Alexia Putellas, Jennifer Hermoso and Irene Paredes, Spain are going to be hard to hold back from having 60% possession, let alone beat.
Chris Flanagan: England
Since Sarina Wiegman took over as Lionesses boss in September, England have won 10-0 twice, 8-0, and most recently 20-0 against Latvia - a team who subbed their goalkeeper at half time in the hope of stemming the tide, and then conceded 12 in the second period. OK, you can't really judge England's Euros prospects based on that result, but Wiegman has a talented squad at her disposal, and won the last Euros with the Netherlands in 2017. Home advantage could help significantly, too.
Conor Pope: Netherlands
Reigning Euro champions and World Cup runners-up Netherlands can't be written off. Anyone who watches Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema play regularly know it's rarely smart to bet against a side with her up front, and the Dutch can also call upon the likes of former Gunners Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord, as well as Barça forward Lieke Martens. The biggest question remains how they will fair in a post-Sarina Wiegman world...
World Cup 2022
Mark White: Germany
The Euros was won the best manager rather than the best team and in Hansi Flick, the Germans have a genuinely top-class tactician, managing most of the Bayern side that he won six trophies with, with added Havertz, Werner, Rudiger, Gundogan and Kroos. They were average at Euro 2020 (two second-half goals and one Muller miss, doo-dah), but Flick has already revitalised Die Mannschaft – and the Germans don't underwhelm three times in a row.
Chris Flanagan: England
This prediction may come back to haunt me when England crash out in the group stage in a blaze of ignominy, but I genuinely think this could be the year. The Three Lions really should have won the Euros - their mistake was sitting back after scoring so early against Italy, just like they did against Croatia in 2018. Brazil and Argentina are added into the mix for a World Cup, but otherwise the contenders for the trophy are the same. England have a squad who are capable of winning it.
Conor Pope: Spain
Nations League finalists Spain could surprise people. Argentina's recent success was reliant on an ageing Lionel Messi, while Italy's Bonucci and Chiellini will be 35 and 38 respectively by the time Qatar rolls around. France are due another implosion. Brazil, England and Spain strike me as the other big hitters with a good chance, and I think Luis Enrique remains underrated as a coach...
Men's Ballon d'Or
Mark White: Lionel Messi
Robert Lewandowski literally scored against every team west of Poland from Autumn 2019 onwards and the Ballon d'Or panel still thought Messi's performances against Bolivia and Saint-Etienne were more impressive. I fully tip Big Bob to score 50 in the Bundesliga, a hat-trick in the Champions League final, assume citizenship for Germany somehow and fire them to glory in Qatar... only for the BDO panel to find Messi's assist in the French Super Cup more worthy of giving him yet another Golden Ball.
Chris Flanagan: Mohamed Salah
Traditionally speaking, the player who wins the Ballon d'Or has either won the Champions League, or had a slightly underwhelming first half of the season for Paris Saint-Germain. Given I'm backing Liverpool to win the Champions League, the obvious choice would be Salah, who's been brilliant in recent months and is arguably already the best player in the world. If he can win AFCON with Egypt, that would strengthen his claim further.
Conor Pope: Mohamed Salah
Salah could well win the AFCON and Champions League in 2022, and is currently in the form of his life. Assuming Ballon d'Or voting takes place pre-World Cup, those achievements could help swing it for the Liverpool forward.
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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.
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