FIFA™ | United States of America, Canada & Mexico

2026 FIFA World Cup: what to expect?

Predicting what the 2026 FIFA World Cup may be like? It is, at any rate, interesting to do a projection exercise of how the global soccer tournament can become unique and unforgettable – based on what we currently know. And based on how we believe international football can develop in the next years. A careful preview of the 2026 tournament: looking at players, tactics, TV, and live streaming.

Players: who will star at the World Cup in 2026?

Unfortunately, for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, it is very unlikely that we can count on Lionel Messi (Argentina) or Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) due to a matter of age (they would arrive at 39 and 41 years old, respectively). Even players like Neymar (Brazil) or Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) would be in the 34-35 years old age group, so it would be surprising if these players will participate in the 2026 North American tournament.

Pro Shots / Action Images

Clubs (especially the largest ones) are currently following a trend based on signing talented young players instead of established stars. This is partly due to the high prices that had been achieved after stellar performances at clubs such as Manchester City or Paris Saint Germain; their foreign investment has allowed them to pay very high figures for some stars – too high for others. To this must be added the delicate economic situation of the world of football as a whole due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All this together puts the general national and international football focus even extra on stimulating the maturation of especially the young(est) talented players. Taking this scenario into account, we can expect national teams to have lower age averages compared to former editions of the FIFA World Cup, even though the tournament will take place more than five years from now. Many of the featured players may at this moment be relatively very unknown, as still being very young. Like to see potential starring players, now more or less still below the radar? Read our post: Young Talented Players who can become the 2026 FIFA World Cup stars.

Young talented players possibly starring at 2026 FIFA World Cup
Philip Foden (England) celebrates scoring at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup Final in 2017. Will he also become a 2026 World Cup starr? Pro Shots / Action Images.

Famous already, and even more excelling in 2026?
Of those who are bound to have a leading role (assuming nothing strange happens) at the final stage in North America in 2026, we have, though, also the already known and famous players. For example Kylian Mbappé (picture below). He is the current PSG star who has already won a FIFA World Cup and who is expected to be participating in 2026 in his third edition of this tournament. Another name that seems destined to be a world star is Joao Felix. The attacking midfielder of Atlético de Madrid began to fulfill the expectations especially after signing for the Spanish club a year ago. He may become the leader of the Portugal national team once Cristiano Ronaldo ends his international career.

Pro Shots / SIPA USA

Also the North American national (host) teams such as Canada, Mexico or the United States can come with players with a fairly high profile. As we, for example, consider the case of Bayern Munich’s left back, Alphonso Davies or Lille striker Jonathan David for the Canadian team. Or that of Christian Pulisic from Chelsea FC, Sergiño Dest, recently signed by FC Barcelona or Giovanni Reyna from Borussia Dortmund, for the US team. As well as the cases of Diego Lainez from Betis or Érick Gutiérrez from PSV Eindhoven for the Mexican national team. All of them, for a matter of age and projection may be in their prime for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Tactics and style of play

We all know: the time that managers of the national teams can spend with the players is usually very limited. Except in the run up to large-scale tournaments such as the World Cup finals. It is difficult for the players to assimilate the game ideas of their national coach as natural as it can be fulfilled at clubs, where the manager has more training time. Taking this into account, the following is an interesting aspect as well.

At the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, the teams that ended up winning the competition – Spain and Germany, respectively – consisted of a core group of players who were in the same club. (In addition to having a group with other world-class players, of course). In 2010, the core of the Spanish team was FC Barcelona and the style of play of the Spanish national team was similar to that of ‘Barça’. In 2014, several of the players were part of Bayern Munich and that facilitated the connections and automatisms of the game of the German team. Now, the question is: which club will be leading by 2025, 2026, having several top players of the same nationality? Who will therefore perhaps make a mark also with their national team at the 2026 World Cup finals?

Furthermore, if we take current football as a reference when trying to predict the tactical formations and style of play in 2026, we can talk about the flexibility and dynamism that European football clubs currently show. Being specific: as a result of the Liverpool-success of the German coach Jurgen Klopp, a group of managers have emerged in the Bundesliga with similar styles. Such as Thomas Tuchel or Marco Rose, whose fast and high-pressing game has been growing within the ideas of managers at the highest level.

World Cup 2026 Format
Pro Shots / Zuma Press

Flexible tactics
Among the German managers is Julian Nagelsmann, the young manager of RB Leipzig. He has innovated with his tactical flexibility in which he changes the formation of his team during the game. Sometimes even several times, without changing players. In the English Premier League we have cases such as Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal FC or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, to mention two examples. They have included 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations with the novelty of using full backs as center backs and switching to a back four during the match. Will they be playing a leading role in 2026 as well?

This leads us to think that in the future, tactical formations and playing styles will be much more flexible with much more mobility and constant pressing. Requiring greater physical deployment and greater concentration on the player’s part. And even a greater attention from the amateur fan to interpret and understand what is happening on the pitch. All these kind of tactical aspects could make the 2026 FIFA World Cup football in the USA, Canada and Mexico even more interesting than it will be anyhow!

TV and live streaming

World Cup 2026 Broadcast rights

The tv and live streaming at the World Cup in 2026 is expected to present some interesting innovations. These in addition to the normal advances that we have seen from football broadcasts all over so far. We are doubtlessly going to find even new forms of live streaming, bringing the tournament to the whole world – to everyone who is part of the FIFA world of football. In the last three editions of the FIFA World Cup, the limit of 3 billion simultaneous spectators has been exceeded for at least one minute. That is the equivalent to almost half the population of the planet (!). Considering the aforementioned fact and remembering that in the last 30 years there has been a progressive increase in the number of spectators, we might reach the limit of 4 billion spectators by the finals in 2026. And if besides the TV and live streaming features also the sportive aspect of the 23rd global soccer tournament lives up to the expectations, we certainly in 2026 will have a World Cup Soccer for the ages…

By Kevin Tanza

Main Info

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World Cup Football Qualifiers North America, Central America, Caribbean

Qualification North America, Central America, Caribbean

In North America, Central America and the Caribbean, the FIFA qualifiers run from March 18, 2024 to November 18, 2025. Six, seven or eight of the 32 participating CONCACAF nations qualify, joining hosts USA, Canada and Mexico.

World Cup Football Qualifiers South America

FIFA World Cup football Qualification South America

In South America, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers run from September 7, 2023 to September 9, 2025. A total of 10 CONMEBOL nations participate. Six to seven South American countries will qualify. There is one single round.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Europe

FIFA World Cup football qualification Europe

In Europe, the qualifiers run from March 17, 2025 to March 31, 2026. A total of 55 (of 54) UEFA nations participate. Sixteen European countries will qualify. There is one group stage (Round 1), followed by the European play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Asia

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Asia

In Asia, the World Cup qualification runs from October 12, 2023 to November, 2025. A total of 46 AFC nations participate. Eight or nine Asian countries will qualify. There are three qualifying rounds, before the play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Africa

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Africa

In Africa, the World Cup football qualifiers run from November 13, 2023 to November 18, 2025. A total of 54 CAF nations participate. Nine or ten African countries will qualify. There are two qualification rounds.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Oceania

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Oceania

In Oceania, the FIFA qualifiers for the World Cup football run from September, 2024 to March, 2025. Eleven OFC nations participate. One or two Oceanic countries qualify. There are three qualification rounds.


Host Cities USA

The 2026 American Dream: the United States is one of the three hosts of the FIFA World Cup Soccer in North America. The USA is the host country with the most - eleven - host cities.

Host Cities Canada

With Vancouver, and Toronto, Canada has two host cities for the world's football finals in North America in 2026. Get more information about the characteristics of these exciting and diverse, dynamic cities.

Host Cities Mexico

With Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico has three candidate host cities for the World Cup in 2026. Each host with its specific ambience, history, attractions, hotspots and other features.

Stadiums USA

The United States will have eleven stadiums for the FIFA 2026 World Cup. Click for more information about these fantastic and modern venues in the USA, and which matches they will host.

Stadiums Canada

During the 2026 World Cup finals, these are the two venues in Canada: BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, and BMO Field in Toronto. Find out more about these attractive Canadian stadiums.

Stadiums Mexico

In Mexico, the FIFA 2026 World Cup will take place in these stadiums: Estadio Akron in Guadalajara, the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and the BBVA Bancomer Stadium in Monterrey.