It’s nearly 2022, and you can’t venture into the coming year of soccer without insider knowledge from intensely-accurate predictions, right?
It’s December. Soon, people who survived this year will get really drunk to celebrate, then we’ll do this whole calendar thing over again. Out with 2021, in with 2022.
What will 2022 hold for us on the pitch? Things are extremely volatile in the soccer world, and on top of it all, it’s a World Qup year. So, it’s up to some guy in Middle America with an internet connection to tell you what’s to come. I take this responsibility seriously.
So does my reporter and passionate item collector Raymond Tortuga, who has crossed over from the world of basketball journalism to embark on this perilous journey with me. We will each share 11 soccer predictions, offering our wisdoms to the world without charging a single cent. That’s just the kinda guys we are.
22 Soccer Predictions for 2022
1: England Fans Have Their Hearts Broken
Justin: If the English have grown accustomed to anything, it’s having their hearts smashed into thousands of tiny fragments by the cruel punishment of international football. Some tournaments are worse for them than others – sometimes, they squander tons of talent and fail to achieve even close to their potential, and other times they come so close to accomplishing their goals only to have it ripped away at the death.
England is a legitimate contender to win the 2022 World Qup, and if we lived in a more just world, maybe the English would get to see their country climb the mountaintop for the first time since 1966. But this is a vicious, unforgiving planet, and the English cannot be allowed this joy.
Penalties seem to be a recent favorite for the directors of English broken hearts lately, and that trope could prove profitable again in 2022. Though perhaps this time, something more visceral, like a blatantly obvious call that goes the opponent’s way in the final minutes and entire swings a knockout outcome. Whatever it is, it’ll be gut-wrenching for the English and pretty entertaining for the rest of us.
2: Man U Elevate Harry Maguire From Captain to Coach
Raymond: Who could be better to carry this club into the future than its current captain, Harry Maguire?
Sound judgment, thick skin, and consistency are what you need to lead a club with the stature of Manchester United, and Maguire has shown time and time again during his time at Old Trafford that he agrees. His impact on the pitch has been immeasurable, and his leadership skills have helped the most successful club in English football climb from sixth when he arrived in 2019 for $95.7 million all the way to a current sixth-place claim right now.
As team captain, Maguire exemplifies everything that it means to be a Modern Man U Man (MMUM). Christiano Ronaldo? Bruno Fernandes? Marcus Rashford? They all must pale in comparison to what Maguire brings to the table, right? RIGHT?
Make MMUM Maguire your main man, and it’ll all work out for the best, United.
3: Manchester City Win the Premier League
Justin: It’s become a clear three-horse race for the Premier League title among Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool, but only one can win it.
Even without a striker, Manchester City hasn’t seemed to have missed a beat. It has so many players who can score, including a goal-filled midfield, and have a proven track record of dominating this league for the last half decade. I predicted City to win the Premier League before the season started, and I’m not changing my mind now.
That said, Liverpool and Chelsea would normally be good enough to win – the top of this league is just too ridiculous right now. I expect the race to remain tight, at least relatively, well into the spring. But it will be the Citizens who raise the trophy in the end.
4: Mexico Never Beats the USA Ever Again
Raymond: Forget 2022, this prediction extends a lifetime. I’m willing to stake my entire journalistic reputation on this – Mexico will never beat the United States in men’s soccer ever, ever again.
There is nothing else to it. There is no breakdown I need to give you. It’s as simple as that. Mexico will never beat the United States again. It’ll never happen, not in my lifetime, not in your lifetime, and certainly not in Gerardo Martino’s lifetime.
Am I being too bullish? Sure, the United States beat Mexico three times in 2021, twice in finals and including a nice dos a cero to deliver the warm fuzzies, but will Mexico really never beat the U.S. again?
Nope. Never. Not even once. Get it through your thick skull.
5: Bayern Are Champions of Europe
Justin: There are a few favorites for the Champions League crown right now, but ultimately, it will be Bayern Munich who reign supreme on the continent.
Robert Lewandowski was recently spurred of the Ballon d’Or, so he’ll casually collect another Champions League to make himself feel better. He’s been nothing short of dominant lately. He has a handful of lethal weapons surrounding him, and Bayern also sports one of the best midfielders and defensive lines in the world. That’s not to mention Manuel Neuer in net.
It’ll be a second Champions League title in three years for Bayern and the club’s third since 2013.
6: Barcelona Win Super League
Raymond: From the depths of debt hell to Super League champion, the Barcelona story in 2022 will be one for the ages. The club has found itself in crippling debt lately THROUGH ABSOLUTELY NO FAULT OF ITS OWN, but fortunately for Barcelona, and therefore the world, the Super League has come to the rescue. This means Barcelona can hoard even more of the wealth for itself before distributing it in massive quantities to clubs across Europe in exchange for shirt sales, thus stimulating the European football economy.
Barcelona will also win the Super League in 2022, and it’ll be super heartfelt and sappy, because why not? You won’t be able to prove they didn’t.
7: Newcastle Get Relegated
Justin: Sure, a few months ago, I predicted that Newcastle would stay up, but back then I didn’t know the new owners would drag their feet on ditching Steve Bruce, then drag their feet further in appointing a full-time replacement. At this point, it feels like quite the uphill road for Newcastle to stay in the Premier League, even with reinforcements poised to come in January.
December is full of fixtures, and Newcastle will still have to run with Joelinton through all of them. There are a lot of games that will be played before the January transfer window ends. Right now, it feels like the hole to dig out of will be too deep, not to mention how much the league table will affect who Newcastle can attract.
Part of me also wants this to happen just to see the new owners have to navigate these waters. Sure, they have unfathomable amounts of money available to them, but you’re still not getting Mbappe to play in the Championship. It would be an interesting experiment to watch unfold if the Magpies were to go down.
8: Everton Appoint Steve Bruce
Raymond: Brucie to the rescue for the Toffees. After Everton ditches Rafa Benitez in the early part of 2022, it will turn to the unflappable Steve Bruce to finally finish the job and provide the sweet release of relegation to the suffering supporters of the club.
For years, Everton has languished in purgatory, forever in the shadow of Liverpool and never able to realize its potential. But the Toffees have remained one of the last six teams to not be relegated from the Premier League, though becoming so irrelevant you might not have noticed. It’s time for Brucey to really give that sinking ship and nice iceberg to finish off the job once and for all.
It would offer Everton some closure in its rocky time in the Premier League before cratering down to Sunderland-like levels and enjoying its away days at Burton, and it would let Steve Bruce do the job he intended at Newcastle but was never allowed to complete, through no fault of his own: relegation.
It’s a match made in heaven, or hell, depending on your perspective. Mine is heaven.
9: David Moyes Doesn’t Leave West Ham
Justin: All of a sudden, everyone loves David Moyes. Oh yeah, like you guys weren’t mocking him mercilessly only a couple of years ago. You’re all liars.
But West Ham doesn’t care, and neither does Moyes. He doesn’t need your conditional love. He’s more than happy to have West Ham play methodical, predictable football that works because he’s a lovely soccer grandpa. There is no better home for Moyes but West Ham, and nothing will lure him away from that. The biggest clubs won’t look his way, because he’s not sexy enough, but West Ham doesn’t need sexy. West Ham doesn’t want sexy. West Ham wants a loveable old man whose sides hang over his belt, and they have that in David Moyes.
Buckle up, because West Ham will be a problem for a few years.
10: Mo Salah Eradicates Covid
Raymond: I don’t know how, and I don’t care how. Maybe it’ll be with his dazzling moves on the pitch, maybe it’ll be with his dashingly curly hair and perfect smile. But it doesn’t matter – Mohamed Salah will eradicate COVID-19 from the face of the earth in 2022.
11: Harry Kane Figures It Out
Justin: You can’t deny the talent of Harry Kane, and you also can’t deny he’s been woeful for months now. He had a terrible summer with a very public transfer debacle and poor showing at Euro 2020. People expected he would turn it around when the 2021-22 season started, but that did not happen.
But Spurs are now managed by Antonio Conte, and he has revitalized careers that were much more dead than Kane’s. Kane clearly has the drive to be one of the world’s best and to win trophies like he is, and I’m predicting that will click with Conte more than it did with Jose Mourinho or Nuno Espirito Santo.
Will Kane ever return to the goal machine he was for years? I don’t know. But will he be much better than he has been in the second half of 2021? Yes, he will be.
12: Chicago Changes Names
Raymond: To more accurately represent their modern brand of soccer, the Chicago Fire will rename themselves the Chicago Extinguished. Nobody will notice.
13: France Wins the World Qup
Justin: France will reign supreme in Qatar at the 2022 World Qup. Paul Pogba probably won’t play as big of a role this time as he did last time, but with the likes of Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, and N’Golo Kante, the French have one of the strongest squads in the world.
France was knocked out of Euro 2020 early, but that was more a function of the insanity of knockout football than an indictment on how the team played in the tournament. There was a dramatic fallout after the team’s elimination, but hey, what’s French football without a little bit of finger pointing through media leaks?
14: Pheboon Sovereign Wealth Fund Purchases Dagenham & Redbridge
Raymond: The Secret Public Investment Fund of Pheboon (SPIF), which represents but is totally not all at connected with the intergalactic nation of Pheboon from the Xagad Region of Norlack, will purchase Dagenham & Redbridge for £649.99 and a Woolworths gift card worth an undisclosed amount.
Pheboon, the wealthiest entity west of Zanzai Belt, has been criticized by intergalactic activists over its crime against life, which include enslaving the entirety of the Guvutanian Quadrant and unleashing bloodthirsty hoards of untamed Monatsblutung on the Freundinnen. But the National League won’t see anything wrong with the new injection of resources entering the league, and the English FA won’t either.
Soon, it’ll be Dagenham & Redbridge singing about being the champions of Europe and sitting top of the league, all backed by elicit space cash.
15: Mbappe to Madrid
Justin: Kylian Mbappe admitted to asking for a transfer from PSG over the summer, and it almost happened. Instead, PSG did not respond to Real Madrid’s $233 million dollar offer. Now, Mbappe is in the final year of his contract in Paris and could sign with a new club for next season and beyond beginning in January.
He will choose to leave Paris Saint-Germain to sign for Real Madrid, the club he clearly was open to joining just a few months ago. PSG will miss out on a ridiculous amount of money from the situation, and if it doesn’t win the Champions League this year, the decision to keep Mbappe and forgo an absolutely giant transfer fee won’t be looked upon favorably (granted, if there’s a team in the world for whom throwing away $233 million doesn’t matter, it’s PSG).
16: Mbappe to Dagenham & Redbridge
Raymond: Kylian Mbappe admitted to asking for a transfer from PSG over the summer, and it almost happened. Instead, PSG did not respond to Real Madrid’s $233 million dollar offer. Now, Mbappe is in the final year of his contract and could sign with a new club for next season and beyond beginning in January.
He will choose to leave Paris Saint-Germain to sign for Dagenham & Redbridge, the club that can clearly offer him the most space cash. To be a part of the Daggers’ rise to the top would be legendary and something that could turn Mbappe into one of the greatest players of all time. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and not one someone of Mbappe’s stature will overlook.
It also makes perfect sense for the Pheboonians to make such a huge splash. How better to wash away the crimes and blood that cover your space cash than by giving a portion of it to a super famous footballer? Goals cleanse all.
17: FC Cincinnati Is Bad
18: Spurs Will Be Sad
Raymond: Been making this prediction every year of my life and never been wrong. On to 2022!
19: Frank Lampard Stays Premier
Justin: I don’t know who will do it, but someone in the Premier League will hire Frank Lampard by the end of 2022.
Did his tenure at Chelsea go well? Meh. The Blues have been way better under Tommy Tuchel and won the Champions League last season with the same team Lampard had languishing. But Lampard’s Chelsea wasn’t horrible, and he’s very early in his managerial career. It shouldn’t and won’t disqualify him from managing again.
Do I think his next job should be in the Premier League? That doesn’t matter – I think the chairman of a Premier League club will think so. Lampard’s name is too attractive, his lore in the league as a player is too great, and the opportunity to have someone with his experience will be too much for no one to latch on to.
20: Leeds & Millwall Form Friendship
Raymond: Long known for forging welcoming and family-friendly atmospheres at their grounds, Leeds United and Millwall will make their friendship official through a hooligan exchange program.
In a show of respect, Leeds will send some of its best and most prolific hooligans to Millwall in exchange for some of The Den’s most vicious Lions, expanding the education of both fan bases on fighting, drinking, cursing, and other crucial skills in today’s fast-paced football world. Synergy is coming!
21: Sunderland Remain League One Darlings
Justin: Netflix categorizes Sunderland ‘Til I Die as “feel good,” and that’s because they’re everyone’s favorite League One club. Since the Black Cats were double relegated into League One, they’ve done an excellent job of staying there, and even though I haven’t watched a single second of any of their games this season (it’s League One, and I have things to do), I can feel it deep in my colon: there’s a Sunderland in there.
Sunderland will finish in third by one point, or better yet, on goal difference by one goal. Then in the playoff, they’ll lose in the semifinal on a heartbreaking 90th-minute screamer that will be replayed forever, or better yet, that’ll happen in the final. Or better yet, that’ll happen to tie the game at 3-3 after Sunderland led 3-0 at half, then the Black Cats will lose by one in pens.
And then Sunderland will be League One darlings for yet another year. Never the bride, always a bridesmaid. Times is hard on the boulevard.
22: Wayne Rooney Becomes a Mother
Raymond: This is somehow self-explanatory.