The outcome of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is unpredictable and remains a grab bag, said Germany’s 2014 world champion Philipp Lahm.
“You haven’t got a clear favorite from Europe as the top teams seem to currently struggle and deal with various difficulties,” the 38-year-old former German team captain told Xinhua in an interview.
Nevertheless, European teams and South American favorites such as Brazil and Argentina are going to battle things out. When it comes to taking the football crown, the former defender added, “I am sure about that.”
Despite a well-oiled qualification performance, it remains uncertain how the five-time world champion Brazil and Argentina will perform when meeting strong European teams, the 2013 Champions League winner stated.
“They have done a great job in the qualification, but a World Cup is about meeting the best,” Lahm said.
Regarding Asian nations, Lahm is curious to witness if they can take their “passionate game shaped by intense running” into the tournament.
As Lahm put it, a World Cup tournament comes near a marathon “as you need to steadily perform over seven games.” That includes winning tight games while not delivering festivals.
Most important from the perspective of the tournament director of the 2024 UEFA Euro hosted by Germany is “that teams find a healthy balance between offense efforts and defense issues.”
The curious results in the Nations League give evidence, “that it has become increasingly difficult for favorites to come back when conceding a goal against an underdog.”
Most of the underdogs are well-organized when it comes to defending covering the entire pitch. “One can say, the gap has shrunken,” Lahm added.
An unusually short pre-tournament preparation phase is a challenge for the participants.
European teams might enjoy the advantage of being used to constant high-level competition thanks to the Champions League. “That might be the biggest difference to South American sides. A World Cup is about delivering over several weeks.”
To win a major, it is inevitable for a coach to implement a clear job-profile for every one of his players. “You need a clear structure and hierarchy as the team leaders need to provide orientation for the rest of the team.”
France for instance can count on one of the strongest squads due to individual quality, but “to get that power on the road team efforts are vital,” he noted. ■