This year’s showdown tournament in Qatar will be nothing short of unique – the first-ever winter World Cup in history. The tiny Arab nation will host the biggest event in world football from 20 November to 18 December, with 32 teams from five confederations tussling each other across 8 venues in five cities. It will be only the second World Cup to be held in Asia after the 2002 tournament – exactly two decades ago.
Every major football tournament has atleast one contender that tends to turn heads and spring up surprises in least expected moments. With 32 national teams in the fray for the golden trophy, one can expect the big guns to be distressed, as it has been the case many a times in the previous versions. Instead of looking of the favorites, we take a close look at the ones that can warrant an upset – the five dark horses to keep close tabs on.
The Africa Cup of Nations champions are in pole position to upset the odds after dismantling fellow finalists Egypt on their way to securing a place. With the likes of some of the best players in the world in their respective positions, including Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal possess all the finesse they need to stage a massive upset. The farthest they have proceeded is to the quarter-finals stage during the 2002 edition, but they will definitely count their chances this time around to go further. However, they will have to upset fellow dark horses and Qatar and Ecuador, not to forget Netherlands. If there is an African nation that can make history, Senegal probably have the strongest chance of them all.
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherland
Serbia staged a major upset in their qualification group by leaving Portugal to slog through the play-off stages, in order to qualify for the World Cup. The Serbs arguably have one of the most talented teams at their disposal, especially in the final-third. With world-class players such as Dusan Vlahovic, Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Luka Jovic. Not to forget world beaters such as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in midfield and Nikola Milenkovic in defence. Serbia have the potential to surprise any team in their path, but first they will have to overcome World Cup favorites Brazil as their first big challenge.
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
As only one of two teams alongside Germany to get the maximum points (27) out of the qualifying stages, Denmark displayed great momentum and grit to chisel their name in Qatar. They bring in passion and perseverance from their superb showing at EURO 2020, where they went all the way to the semi-final stage of the competition against all odds. Christian Eriksen’s fateful collapse forced Denmark into standstill, but the men wearing the jersey didn’t hold back from expressing themselves on the pitch. Despite France and Australia in their group, do not expect them to maintain a passive person, as they may well go all the way into the latter stages.
Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
United States of America
While not the first team anyone would consider being a dark horse, USA possess a wealth of talent never seen before in the country’s history. They might not be the strongest team out there tactically or technically, but with players such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Giovanni Reyna, anything is possible upfront. Defence is a weakness for Gregg Berhalter to look after, and moreover clashes against England, Wales and Iran will not come easy. The clash against England is most likely to attract the greatest activity in western sports betting markets.
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
Led by the enigmatic Gareth Bale, Wales have become the perennial dark horses in any tournament they step foot into. England are expected to top the group, with Wales expected to tussle USA for the second spot in Group B. Wales last qualified for the quarter-final back in 1958 – in their first and only World Cup appearance – and assuming they make it past the group stages, they might need to face either Netherlands or Senegal. Not thinking that far ahead would certainly help the tiny nation, who have the strength to better their best finish so far.
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
As per latest statistics by the best football betting sites, Brazil are top favorites to win their first title in twenty years, ahead of reigning champions France and England. Argentina, Spain, Germany and Netherlands lie far behind the aforementioned top dogs. With the linked resource, one can gain a deeper and better understanding of betting markets across the world. Players, whether old or new, can also benefit from a range of bonuses and rewards such as free bets, spins, cash backs, loyalty points and accumulator schemes.