What are the best 2022 World Cup cards?
The 2022 Qatar World Cup is on the horizon, with the best players on the planet battling it out for the biggest prize within the sport. It only comes around once every four years, so it’s a massive deal for soccer card collectors.
The 2022 World Cup group phase will be played from 20 November to 2 December. The knockout phase will begin with the Round of 16 from 3-6 December.
It’s likely to cause a large uptick in interest for the best World Cup cards, especially for star players and rookies who make a serious impact in the tournament.
We’ve put together a guide looking at each of the 32 teams that have made the finals. We’ll discuss their chances of success, and the best rookie card options for top players from each country.
World Cup Qatar 2022: The Teams
A wide range of countries have made it to the 2022 Finals, and they have been split into eight groups of four. Here’s a rundown with our thoughts about each group, looking at odds, star players, and the best rookie cards for each team.
This includes everyone from Lionel Messi to Kylian Mbappe.
We’ve listed the teams in order of their World Cup Group, going from A-H.
Group A: Group A contains hosts Qatar, who are making their first appearance in the finals. Aside from South Africa (2010), every nation has made it out of the qualifying group in their own country. Qatar are up against the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador, but they will have a home advantage.
Qualifying as the contentious hosts, Qatar take on Ecuador in Group A to kick off the tournament. (This will be the first time that an Arab nation will host the competition.) They’ll likely need a win against Ecuador to have any chance of progressing into the knockout phase. In the 2021 Gold Cup, the side scored a combined 12 goals in four games before losing to the USA in the semifinals.
Player to watch: Striker Akram Afif plays for Al-Sadd club and the Qatari national team. He has received the QFA Player of the Year award for two consecutive seasons. We’ve linked to the popular 2022 Donruss Road to Qatar set below, which contains various branded options.
Ecuador will feature at the 2022 World Cup after FIFA dismissed an appeal from Chile, in which they argued Ecuador fielded an ineligible player in qualifying. Byron Castillo is the player in question, who was accused of being Colombian, and therefore ineligible to play.
Ecuador claimed the fourth and final automatic World Cup place from the South American qualifiers. The team scored 27 goals and was tied with Argentina for second-most in CONMEBOL.
Player to watch: Michael Estrada, also known as Chocolatin, scored six goals on the road to Qatar. He has replaced Felipe Caicedo as Ecuador’s main striker.
Senegal cruised through the group-stage of CAF qualifying with an undefeated record, seeing off Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in the playoffs. The Senegalese are arguably Africa’s best team, evidenced by its 2021 AFCON title win. The reigning African champions will be expecting to progress to the knockout stages at the very least. They have some interesting 2022 World Cup cards to collect.
Player to watch: Sadio Mane moved to Bayern Munich this summer, and still looks to have a lot left in the tank. He’s the nation’s all-time top goalscorer, and third in all-time appearances. Senegal will also have Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly to rely on at the back.
The Netherlands have always been dark horses at the World Cup, and 2022 is no different. They should easily emerge from the group stages as winners, and are in good form as the Dutch top their Nations League group with 10 points from four games, and they’re coached by the legendary Louis van Gaal.
Player to watch: The team will be reliant on Virgil van Dijk at the back, even if the center-half has not been even close to his imperious best in the Premier League so far this season. Cody Gakpo is a youngster worth keeping an eye on if he makes the cut, and it’s great if you’re interested in a more recent soccer rookie card.
Group B: There are two strong favorites to top Group B in the form of England and the USA. Games between the latter and Iran are likely to be politically focused, while Wales are always capable of causing an upset.
England did well at Euro 2022, even if they lost in the final to Italy. The Three Lions also reached the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup, and they’re strong favorites to progress in Group B, even if their opponents are tougher than they look on paper. The England squad is talented, with multiple quality players in every position.
Player to watch: Manchester City and England star Phil Foden is seen as one of the best young players in the world, and with good reason. Precociously talented, Foden is a key member of a star-studded club side that has swept aside all challengers in the Premier League. Meanwhile, talismanic striker Harry Kane is the early favorite to be the top goalscorer in the 2022 tournament.
Carlos Queiroz replaced Dragan Skocic at the helm for Iran. The former Real Madrid and Portugal coach had only a little over two months to fine tune the squad. The team still cruised to the finals, losing just one game in the process. However, history is against them. They have never progressed beyond the group stages and have won only two matches, against the United States in 1998 and Morocco in 2018 respectively.
Player to watch: Iran’s captain and most experienced player is Ehsan Hajsafi of AEK Athens. This will be his third World Cup, having represented Iran at the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.
The USMNT was by far the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with an average age of 23.82, which was almost two years younger than the next closest team (Ghana at 25.67). The United States have plenty of established stars based in top European sides, from Chelsea to Borussia Dortmund.
Player to watch: Giovanni Reyna plies his trade for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, having made his breakthrough in 2020. He’s the youngest American ever to appear in the Bundesliga, breaking a record previously set by Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic. Reyna could be the focal point of the USMNT by the time the World Cup is hosted in the US in 2026, while he has a chance to make an impact in Qatar this winter.
Qualifying via the play-offs at the expense of Ukraine, Wales’ initial game is against the USA. Coach Robert Page was in charge as Wales reached the second round of Euro 2020, and led the team to a first World Cup since 1958. He has worked to improve their mentality in tournaments, giving them an opportunity to play to their strengths so they can compete with the larger sides.
Player to watch: Gareth Bale might be getting on a bit, but the former Tottenham and Real Madrid Star still has the ability to have an impact on the biggest stages. Bale recently made the switch to MLS side Los Angeles FC.
Group C: Argentina are strong favorites to top Group C, with Mexico likely to battle it out with Poland for second place. Saudi Arabia rounds out the quartet, after winning their Asian qualifying group.
Argentina are strong contenders thanks to an abundance of attacking talent, with none shining more brightly than Lionel Messi. After winning the Finalissima (a one-off game between South America’s Copa America winners and Europe’s European Championship winners) 3-0, it stretched their unbeaten streak to 32 games, spanning over three years. Lionel Scaloni has lost just four times since taking charge of Argentina in 2018.
Player to watch: The magisterial Lionel Messi has an army of fans that would go to war if you were to suggest he was anything other than the GOAT. Messi inspired Argentina to their second international trophy at the Copa America within the space of 12 months after ending their 18-year drought with silverware. The 2004 Mega Cracks is the Messi RC to own.
Seen as one of Asia’s best national teams, Saudi Arabia likely faces a tough task to progress beyond the World Cup 2022 group stage. Manager Herve Renar’s side are making their second consecutive appearance in the finals, and they suffered just one defeat in their 10 qualifying matches. They conceded six goals altogether. Their resolute defense is likely to be put to the test.
Player to watch: Left winger Salem Al-Dawsari and captain Salman Al-Faraj look most likely to make an impact in a difficult group. Al-Dawsari and Saleh Al Sheri notched seven goals apiece in qualifying.
Mexico’s World Cup qualifying campaign was fraught, with a distinct lack of goals capped by ‘Fuera Tata’ chants ringing through stadiums. They finished as runners up in the Concacaf Octagonal ahead of the United States and behind Canada, scoring 17 goals across 14 qualifying games.
Head coach Tata Martino has a tough job on his hands, especially if key center forward Raúl Jiménez continues to suffer from a drop in form. Mexico has advanced from the group stage in the last seven World Cups in which they’ve made the finals.
Player to watch: The trio of Hirving Lozano, Jimenez and Jesus Manuel Corona weren’t effective when played together, but they’ll be relying on the Wolves striker to find the net.
Poland’s best World Cup finishes are two third places, in 1974 and 1982. They saw off Sweden in a playoff to make the finals. Their form coming into the tournament hasn’t been great, while former Legia Warsaw coach Czesław Michniewicz only took the helm in January. Once again, they’ll be relying on a star striker to come up with the goods.
Player to watch: Robert Lewandowski is one of the most prolific strikers of all-time, and notched over 280 goals in the Bundesliga. He surpassed Gerd Muller’s 49-year record for goals scored in a German top flight in 2020–21. He also has the most goals and caps for Poland, and became the first Polish player to score in three consecutive European Championships in 2021. The Poland legend looks to be a good buy if you’re looking for rookie cards that will tie into the 2022 World Cup.
Group D: Current holders France are the obvious standouts in Group D. Tunisia and Denmark are most likely to fight for the second spot in the round of 16, with Australia a surprise inclusion after they beat Peru on penalties to book their place in the finals.
France is arguably their own worst enemy given the sheer quality of the team, and the fact they’ll be leaving players at home who would easily make most starting squads in Qatar.
The prospect of an implosion can never be discounted, especially following reports that Paul Pogba’s brother Mathias alleged that the France international had been practicing witchcraft to avoid injury and had also placed a curse on international team-mate Kylian Mbappe.
Les Blues are still our pick as the favorites to win the tournament outright.
Player to watch: Curse or no curse, Kylian Mbappe is arguably the most potent striker in world football today. Of the trio who make up the PSG attack, Mbappe is the most selfish. However, he’s likely to have the most goals when all is said and done. His rookie cards are a great investment option.
Australia are currently 250/1 to win the World Cup 2022. In other words, they’re massive underdogs, and it was a tough road to the finals. The AFC qualification process saw the team finishing behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. They made it through thanks to Andrew Redmayne, who was brought on in the final minute to provide penalty heroics in the shootout against Peru.
Player to watch: Attacking midfielder Ajdin Hrustic is a Europa League winner who was signed with Eintracht Frankfurt last season. He scored a trio of important goals during qualification.
The 2021 European Championship semi-finalists dominated during qualifying. The Danes finished 9-1-0 (W-L-D) and posted a +27 goal difference, so they shouldn’t be disregarded despite being grouped with France.
Player to watch: Christian Eriksen is clearly back to his best after a cardiac arrest suffered at Euro 2020, going on to be named Manchester United’s Player of the Month for September 2022. He has transformed their midfield, while shining in a deeper role than he has played in the past.
The Eagles of Carthage beat Mali in a two-legged play-off in March to earn their berth. In terms of history, the lowest ranked team in Pot 3 has never made it out of the group stage.
Player to watch: Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri believes his country can make history at the upcoming World Cup and progress beyond the group stage for the first time ever, against all odds.
Group E: Group E contains four teams who will fancy their chances of making it past the group stages. European heavyweights Spain and Germany are joined by Asian Cup 2019 finalists Japan and intercontinental playoff winner Costa Rica. It has the potential for upsets, and could be the ‘Group of Death’ for 2022.
Spain are always going to be one of the favorites to lift the trophy. They might be going to Qatar without former captain Sergio Ramos, who was left out of Luis Enrique’s squad for Nations League games in September. They’ll be relying on young talent, including Pedri, Ferran Torres, and Ansu Fati.
Player to watch: Pedri has been featured heavily in a number of recent card roundups, and it’s no surprise as he’s one of the breakthrough rookies for a massive European side in the form of Barcelona. As it’s his first ever World Cup, it’s likely to have an impact on values in the long term.
Costa Rica claimed numerous scalps in 2014, and they’re the only national team in Central America to have played in five FIFA World Cup editions. The last team to qualify for the 2022 finals, they beat New Zealand in an inter-confederation play-off. Six victories from their final seven fixtures allowed them to secure fourth place behind the United States, Mexico, and Canada in qualifying.
Player to watch: Joel Campbell will start up top, and the veteran striker has 118 appearances and 25 goals for the Costa Rica national football team. There’s no doubt that he’s a talisman for the side.
Germany are dark horses, and will be desperate to make up for a group-stage exit as holders four years ago. Die Mannschaft ended with nine wins out of 10 in qualifying, and they shouldn’t be disregarded given the talent on display.
Player to watch: Jamal Musiala is seen as one of the bigger talents in world football. He’s taking the Bundesliga by storm, and recently became the youngest German to hit 14 goals in the league. (Expect that record to be extended this season.) He should get minutes if he makes the squad, even if Timo Werner is expected to start.
Kaoru Mitoma, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Yuta Nakayama make up the Japan players plying their trade in England, who are likely to make the plane for the team’s seventh consecutive appearance at the World Cup. Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu saw his side automatically qualify for the 2022 tournament, one point behind Saudi Arabia.
Player to watch: Takehiro Tomiyasu was a key player last year for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal, even if he’s unhappy with a lack of playing time so far in 2022/23. Tomiyasu has recovered from injury, and should be a calming presence at the back.
Group F: Belgium and Croatia have to be seen as favorites to progress past Group F, although Morocco and Canada have younger squads that are sure to put the Europeans to the test.
Belgium are reliant on the remnants of their golden generation, who are beginning to get a bit long in the tooth. Jan Vertonghen will be 35 by the time the World Cup kicks off, Toby Alderweireld and Axel Witsel 33, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne 31, Thibaut Courtois 30, Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco 29. Will this be the year in which they play to their full potential?
Player to watch: Kevin De Bruyne is one of the most influential midfielders the Premier League has ever seen, while he has been named in the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season and the IFFHS Men’s World Team four times each. If he’s fit for the tournament, he’s dangerous.
Canada has a strong side, but coach John Herdman won’t appreciate one of the more hectic windows in recent memory. When a labor dispute forced the cancellation of the Panama friendly in June, the squad missed out on more time to gel properly before the tournament. The 2026 co-hosts could still provide an upset or two!
Player to watch: Lille’s Jonathan David is likely to be a key man, alongside Alphonso Davies. David is one of the bigger success stories from last season, as the striker bagged 15 goals in 38 games.
The Morocco Football Federation removed Vahid Halilhodzic due to his player selection after growing tensions between the two parties, before naming Walid Regragui to replace him.
Player to watch: Chelsea playmaker Hakim Ziyech has struggled in London, but there’s no denying his impact when deployed in a team more suited to his talents. With Halilhodzic gone, Ziyech is back in the squad for the 2022 tournament.
Croatia reached the 2018 final, before being blown away by France. A number of familiar names remain on the teamsheet four years later, and there’s always a chance of running deep as one of the slickest sides in Europe.
Player to watch: Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modrić is widely seen as the greatest Croatian footballer of all-time. At 37, it’s his last World Cup tournament, and the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner will be hoping to go out in style.
Group G: Operating under the assumption that Brazil is going to occupy one of the qualification spots in Group G, that leaves Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon fighting for second place.
With five World Cup wins in total, Brazil are always a dangerous prospect in the Finals. They have the experience of Neymar, Marquinos, and Thiago Silva to draw upon, with a strong supporting cast including Vinicius Junior and Flamengo striker Pedro, who is the top scorer in this season’s Copa Libertadores with 12 goals. Brazil has made it through to the knockout stages 13 times in a row.
Player to watch: It feels like Vinicius Junior has been around for a while, yet the Real Madrid and Brazil winger is still only 22. If Vini Jr is able to harness his potential and win more serious trophies, his rookie cards look to be one of the best soccer investments overall.
Serbia might be unfancied by the average fan, but Dragan Stojkovic’s side qualified for the tournament in impressive fashion, topping a group containing Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, and going unbeaten throughout their campaign.
Player to watch: Arguably Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is Serbia’s all-time top scorer. With 46 international goals to his name, Mitrovic has massive support in his home country, having played for the national team since 2014. He has also hit the ground running in the Premier League this season.
There’s also the highly rated Dušan Vlahović, who made his senior debut in 2020. He scored four goals in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, helping his side qualify for the finals.
Switzerland lost manager Vladimir Petkovic at the beginning of the qualifying campaign, as he left to take over at French side Bordeaux. The Swiss still managed to top a group containing Italy, who were eventually knocked out by North Macedonia. Ignore Switzerland at your own peril.
Player to watch: Cameroon-born forward Breel Embolo was their top scorer in qualifying, albeit with a tally of three goals.
Cameroon FA president (and legendary striker) Samuel Eto’o is hoping that the team will compete rather than make up the numbers. The Indomitable Lions lost 1-0 at home to Algeria before winning 2-1 with an extra-time goal to seal their World Cup ticket in March.
Player to watch: Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar finished the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations with eight goals. We’d look elsewhere for the best 2022 World Cup cards.
Group H: Group H is where you’ll find a variety of aging forwards playing for Portugal and Uruguay. Ghana and South Korea provide a wildcard element that ensures there are no easy games.
Portugal had to work to qualify for the finals, but the Seleção is well backed among football fans and bookmakers in terms of betting odds. They will also benefit from one of the strongest squads in world football. Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t their sole goal threat thanks to e likes of Bruno Fernandes players like Bruno Fernandes.
Player to watch: There’s arguably no better soccer investment option than Cristiano Ronaldo. 2022 is likely to be the Manchester United forward’s final World Cup tournament, and his greatest RC is the 2002-03 Mega Craques.
Ronaldo has scored seven goals in 17 matches at FIFA World Cups, and that includes a hat-trick against Spain in the 2018 edition. We wouldn’t bet against him adding to the tally in Qatar.
Ghana booked their spot in the 2022 Finals after beating Nigeria in a two-legged affair in March. Manager Otto Addo will be without Nico Williams, as the highly-rated forward decided to declare for the Spanish national team despite being courted by the Black Stars.
Player to watch: Al Sadd star Andre Ayew is close to becoming Ghana’s most capped player, and should do so at the 2022 World Cup. Ayew made his 100th appearance for the side in November 2021, scoring the only goal against South Africa in a crucial World Cup qualifying match in Cape Coast. However, Ajax star Mohammed Kudus is our player to watch, after drawing attention from the likes of Everton in the summer transfer window.
Uruguay manager Diego Alonso leads the underdogs who won the first World Cup in 1930. El Matador and El Pistolero might be past their primes, but it’s hard to argue against the combination of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, even if they both start the 2022 World Cup at the age of 35.
Player to watch: Luis Suarez is Uruguay’s talisman and he will be the first name down on Aliou Cisse’s squad list for the 2022 World Cup. In terms of interesting rookie cards, we’d look at Darwin Nunez.
Nunez is one of the bigger talents to emerge from South America in recent years, both literally and figuratively. The Uruguay international joined Liverpool in 2022/23 with a huge price tag, having scored an impressive stream of goals at every level so far. They’re some of the best Uruguay World Cup cards if you’re looking at modern options.
South Korea is soccer-mad, and their best ever performance is a fourth place finish in the 2002 tournament. There’s a reliance on their talismanic captain Son Heung-Min, while Hwang Ui-jo is expected to lead the line up front.
Player to watch: Tottenham star Son Heung-Min is one of the most popular players in the Premier League, and a national icon for South Korea. No matter the outcome of the 2022 tournament, he’s sure to be a decent long-term hold. At the age of 30, this could also be his last appearance at a finals while at the peak of his powers.
World Cup Qatar 2022 Mega Guide: Final Thoughts
And that’s it! 32 teams, hundreds of players, and the biggest sporting tournament in the world. The best 2022 World Cup cards weren’t necessarily released this year!
The 2022 World Cup is going to cause a massive uptick in interest and values for the best soccer rookie cards for star players from each team. Will a youngster have a breakout season, or will France claim victory again? Either way, there’s a good chance to make profit with the best World Cup 2022 rookie cards.
The best players tend to sell for a massive premium compared to average stars, especially if they can get their names in the record books. Aside from the likes of Erling Haaland, the list is pretty much a who’s who of the best footballers from the modern era.
It’s ideal if you’re looking for the best soccer cards on the market. Prices will rise when the tournament starts. If you’re aiming to sell, we’d advise you to wait for a big game featuring the player for the highest possible returns.