World Cup 2022: One big question about every team in Qatar

The World Series is just barely in the rearview. The NBA season is rolling and dramatic, while American football is as intense as ever. The European club soccer season hit pause only about two minutes ago. Thanksgiving is approaching quickly, and you have to make plans. The election was a lot. And hey, work's just been a beast lately.

The FIFA World Cup snuck up on you, in other words. It's fine to admit it. It was bound to happen. This glorious event was perfectly dropped into just about the most inconvenient possible time of the year, and while you know how important it is, and you definitely want to get the most out of it, you've come to realize you're running out of time.

Allow me to fill in that gap. Let's walk through the field of 32 one last time before everything gets underway.

Sporting stars have their say on the Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo debate in ESPN's "You Have to Answer."

Their best quality: They've got a high-level club in their backyard and they use it. Half of their roster comes from two-time Asian Champions League winner (and 16-time domestic champion) Al Sadd. Familiarity can compensate for talent at times.

Does any of this actually matter, though? This team made the World Cup semifinals four years ago and nearly won the delayed Euros in 2021. And again: TALENT. SO MUCH OF IT. And what happens if they don't?

The ESPN FC crew debate who will have the best World Cup out of Jude Bellingham, Federico Valverde and Pedri.

Rob Dawson explains the feeling around Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo's explosive interview.

Of course, they're now in a group with Messi and Lewandowski. Also, they scored just six goals in those 12 matches. Their best hope of advancing is a run of scoreless slogs.

They're loaded and dangerous. They're playing second-teamers and are in a slump. They could repeat as World Cup winners or lose early, and it wouldn't be a total surprise. All of which makes them one hell of a wildcard.

Do either have enough to top France or Denmark, or are they just neat stories? Oddsmakers certainly lean toward the latter. But they're definitely neat stories.

This Japan team rule. But we'll see if they can overcome the Group of Death.

They're also smoking hot. They've played 13 matches in the past calendar year and lost once. They defend and defend, and they supply Campbell with one solid scoring chance per match. That's not going to keep working ... is it?

To even reach the finals, Belgium might have to beat Spain or Germany in the round of 16, then England or France in the semis. The road to a happy ending for the "Golden Generation" is a rough one.

The 2018 World Cup was their first in 20 years, and they earned one point in three matches. This is an enigmatic squad with loads of potential and a minimal track record.

The best part: Davies, David and Buchanan are all 23 and under. They're going to be at this for a while.

For all of the young attacking energy they bring to the table, a similarly speedy attack could make their defense look slow. It hasn't happened in a while -- they've played nine matches in the past year and allowed just three goals -- but that doesn't mean it can't.

They are also blessed with an intriguing draw: The second-placed team in Group H could draw one of the tournament's weaker group winners (likely either Portugal or Uruguay.) Switzerland came achingly close to a semifinal run in last summer's Euros, and it wouldn't take much luck for either of these teams to reach the quarterfinals if they're dialed in.

Act III: Whatever the heck this interaction was between Ronaldo and another Portuguese star, Joao Cancelo.

What's going on here between Cristiano Ronaldo and João Cancelo? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/KG6BrKbvxF

These clips, of course, lack loads of context. We're not in the Portugal camp. We have no inside information as to whether the Piers Morgan saga has affected anything. (And if it hasn't, then we're talking about a team with a ridiculous amount of talent and potential.) All I'll say is, if we're talking about Portugal as this tournament's "Horrible Vibes Team" in a few more weeks -- and every major tournament always has one -- it wouldn't be much of a surprise.

If Portugal are in anything less than fifth gear, Uruguay might be the favorite to win the group.