ESPN - "Way-too-early look at 2026 World Cup: Expect France to win, Mbappe vs. Haaland, US to go deep in knockouts"
Get ready for Haaland v. Mbappe
There will be no Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo in 2026, but get ready for Erling Haaland to challenge Kylian Mbappe for the status as football's biggest superstar.
Norway have not qualified for the World Cup since 1998, but with Manchester City forward Haaland and Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard now leading the team, it's difficult to imagine they won't make it in 2026. France forward Mbappe already has two glittering World Cup tournaments to his name from 2018 and 2022, but Haaland is the one player right now who can challenge him for the billing as football's most exciting star.
The 2026 World Cup needs Haaland, and he is such a potent goal scorer that Norway should be able to claim one of Europe's 16 qualification spots to ensure he plays on football's biggest stage.