Over the last 12 months, we have been spoilt for choice when it comes to sporting world championships. Last December, Lionel Messi finally secured his legacy as the greatest footballer of all time as he led his beloved Argentina to FIFA World Cup glory in Qatar. This summer, Spain’s women stunned England’s Lionesses as they secured their maiden Women’s World Cup. In France, the Rugby World Cup has just gotten underway and on October 5th, the Cricket World Cup gets underway as well.
In the world of men’s international football, however, the next World Cup couldn’t be further away. Instead, in Europe, nations are doing their utmost to qualify for next summer’s European Championships in Germany, and a number of powerhouses are already in trouble. Reigning champions Italy have already lost at home to England and drawn away at North Macedonia, while perennial qualifiers Poland have lost three of their five games thus far.
Over in South America, their 2026 World Cup qualifiers are well underway. They too have the small matter of their continental crown, namely Copa America, to contend next summer. So with absolutely nobody giving it much thought at the moment, we decided that now would be the perfect time to sneak under the radar and take a look at the frontrunners for glory in North America in three years' time.
After reaching the last two FIFA World Cup finals, winning one of them, it should come as no surprise that football betting providers have made France the early favourites. They romped to global domination back in 2018 with teenage sensation Kylian Mbappé proving just how good he was. Four years later, the Paris Saint-Germain striker was on full display once more, scoring a blistering hat trick in the final against Argentina, albeit in a losing effort.
Les Bleus have a talented young side, which is why the bookmakers rate their chances of glory so high. Their talented superstar has been made captain by manager Didier Deschamps and he will still be just 27 years of age by the time summer 2026 rolls around. And it isn’t just Mbappé that will be at the peak of his powers.
Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is still just 20 years old, while his club teammate Aurélien Tchouaméni is also just 23. Arsenal defender William Saliba is 22 and his defensive partners, Barcelona’s Jules Koundé and Bayern Munich's Dayot Upamecano, are both aged 24. That is a solid spine of a team that will have bags of experience in three year’s time.
Another team that has a talented young squad is England. And while their talismanic striker and captain Harry Kane will be 32 at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, pace has never been the Bayern Munich man’s game. He will still be at the peak of his powers and hoping to lead the Three Lions to the famous gold trophy for the first time in 60 years.
Gareth Southgate has been nurturing a bucketload of young talent in the last few years. Since his arrival at Real Madrid during the summer, Jude Bellingham has already developed into perhaps the finest central midfielder on the planet, and he is still just 20. Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka was the driving force behind The Gunners’ unsuccessful Premier League title challenge last season, and he is only 22. Phil Foden is barely a year older while Saka’s North London teammate Declan Rice is 24.
The English may very well have a problem in defence though. Despite the criticism thrown at him in recent years, Harry Maguire has been one of his country’s most reliable players. He will be 33 in the summer of 2026 and may well need replacing. To be fair, if his club form doesn’t drastically improve in the years between now and then, he may very well be out of the international picture altogether.