In case you’ve missed it, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to kick off tomorrow. A love of baseball obviously does not necessarily correlate with a love of all sports, soccer included. There’s plenty of people for who the World Cup is the only thing they watch in the sport. To help them, I’ve attempted to compare Yankees players to the 32 teams who will be competing. Here’s part one!
(Note: Since this World Cup is coming after the baseball season ended, I’m going with 2022 Yankees, hence why some players — including a very notable one — who technically aren’t on the roster right now are still being counted for purposes of this exercise.)
Jose Trevino was a pleasant surprise for the Yankees in 2022. He made an All-Star team and was mostly good, but he’s also not someone you’d put in the cleanup spot in the lineup. Ecuador qualifying out of the deep and talented South American region is a pleasant surprise, but it seems unlikely that they’ll come close to winning the whole thing.
The Dutch are back at the World Cup after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament. Not only are they back, but they’re also considered among the favorites despite the dip that kept them out of the last edition. Matt Carpenter was also back in the big time this year after a time away.
Qatar is (controversially) hosting this edition of the World Cup. They have some amount of pedigree, having won the most recent Asian Cup. However, nobody is exactly sure what to expect from them in this tournament. Frankie Montas.
Just a couple days before Senegal were set to open their tournament, they got the news that their star, Sadio Mané, is set to miss the World Cup with a leg injury. While they have other good players and probably weren’t going to go on a semifinal-ish run even with him healthy, it’s still a massive blow. Similarly, Michael King’s injury dealt the Yankees a pretty big blow in 2022.
England are going into this tournament with an immensely talented team and are among the betting favorites. However, among the team and their fans, they carry the weight of history and their inability to live up to expectations that have surrounded them since they won their lone World Cup in 1966. Giancarlo Stanton is one of the Yankees, but between his injury history and his salary, he will seemingly always be painted with a certain brush among a group of Yankees fans.
In qualifying for the World Cup, Iran allowed just eight goals in the 18 games they played. That’s...fine, but it also came against competition in the Asian region of qualifying, and seems unlikely to allow them to make a deep run in the tournament. You look at them and think “eh, maybe” but the answer is probably not. Miguel Castro.
The current USMNT roster is a fairly young one that gives a lot of hope for the future, and has shown flashes of something potentially very fun. Whether that potential’s ever fully realized remains to be seen, but it gives off some Oswaldo Cabrera-ish vibes.
Like Harrison Bader seemingly being very happy to be back playing for the team he rooted for as a child, Wales are very happy to be making their first World Cup appearance since 1958. However, don’t mistake the happiness for then completely rolling over for opponents.
One of the historically best countries, Argentina is again expected to be a contender at this year’s tournament. Anthony Rizzo isn’t quite the generational talent that a Lionel Messi is, but he was and figures to be an integral part of the Yankees.
Mexico are a fixture at the World Cup and almost always a solid bet to make it out of the group stage. They’ve made the Round of 16 at every tournament since 1994. Their reliability feels “Everyday” Wandy Peralta like.
On paper, Poland look like a solid squad, headlined by star striker Robert Lewandowski. On paper, I’ve thought they’ve looked pretty decent at several past tournaments, and they’ve occasionally been pretty good but not great. Especially lately, Aaron Hicks has often seemed on paper to be what the Yankees have needed, but post-contract extension hasn’t been great.
You need 32 teams in a tournament, and 26 players on an MLB roster. Marwin Gonzalez.
This is the last one I figured out, so uh...Ron Marinaccio.
At the EURO 2020 tournament, Danish star Christian Eriksen went into cardiac arrest on the field and very nearly died. Thankfully his life was saved and he’s since even returned to the field and the Denmark team. However without him in EURO 2020, his team still managed to go on an inspirational run to the semifinals. They won over a lot of neutral fans during that run and we’re easy to root for. Making it that far is a good achievement and proof that they’re also a very good team. That brings to mind Nestor Cortes, who is another good story that also shouldn’t be taken lightly.
On pure talent, defending champions France are arguably the best there is in the tournament. The issue is there’s some questions. For France, it’s the fact that they’re dealing with some injuries and the weird fact that the previous World Cup champion has not advanced out of the group stage since the 2006. For Aaron Judge, there’s that whole issue that he is a free agent and the Yankees are not guaranteed to bring him back. However, if those questions are answered, oh baby, look out.
They exist and will compete at this year’s World Cup. Lucas Luetge.
Come back tomorrow for the remaining 16 teams.