FIFA World Cup 2022: Who Will Prove To Be Dark Horses Of The Tournament?
Every World Cup throws up teams that can make a mockery of pre-tournament calculations. Which will be those teams this time?
Parth JhaveriUPDATED 17 Nov 2022 7:58 am
Conflicted feelings towards something are a reality of life. So while there is no denying the controversies around the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it is also true that football fans are excited about the event. (More Football News)
Among the several nail-biting storylines at every World Cup is who will emerge as the dark horses? Will they send some favourites tumbling? At the 2018 World Cup, for instance, Russia won two of their group games, eliminated Spain in the Round of 16 and only lost the quarter-finals on penalties.
Let’s look at some of the sides that could provide a surprise twist in Qatar.
The qualification journey of the twice winners was not short on drama. They lost their last four games of 2021 and needed something spectacular to remain in contention for straight qualification. Oscar Tabarez’s side turned it on in typical Uruguayan fashion, going unbeaten in 2022 and making it to Qatar.
The South American side is a blend of veteran experience and youthful exuberance. On the one hand, they have ageing pillars like Diego Godin, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani who still are the difference makers in the side on their day. On the other, they have steely midfielders Fede Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur and Matias Vecino. Add to that the goal threat of Darwin Nunez and you have a side that can be dangerous.
Clubbed with Portugal, South Korea and Ghana in Group H, Uruguay can be world beaters if they get the most out of their in-form midfield.
Their talisman Sadio Mane has injured his right fibula and now it has been confirmed that he will definitely miss the tournament. Had he been available, Senegal would be the best African side and one of the best bets to progress in the tournament. But while his absence will be felt, the African champions have enough firepower to navigate through the tricky Group A, consisting Qatar, Ecuador and Netherlands. Even without Mane, Senegal have a strong team, especially a reliable backbone consisting of Edouard Mendy in goal, Kalidou Koulibaly in defence and Idrissa Gana Gueye in midfield. In attack, the Lions of Teranga can rely on Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia and Bamba Dieng.
Senegal aren’t a free-scoring side, let’s be clear. But they are a strong, disciplined unit that can cause major upsets.
Serbia isn’t a side that turned many heads when they qualified for the World Cup. It was a pretty average qualification campaign until the very last stage when they travelled to Lisbon and comprehensively defeated Portugal.
Serbia are in Group G with eternal favourites Brazil, Switzerland and Cameroon. They are well-equipped in attack and have depth at their disposal.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is firing again. In 2018, Dusan Vlahovic hadn’t burst onto the scene, but his last couple of seasons’ performances have made him a player to watch out for at the 2022 World Cup.
In case either of the strikers fails to get going on a particular day, Luka Jovic comes in handy as a super sub.
In midfield, Dusan Tadic continues to be the creator and orchestrator. He is supported by Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Filip Kostic has the lethal delivery from the left flank that Mitrovic and Vlahovic can take advantage of.
If Serbia can tidy up their defence or at least paper some of the cracks, they can be a handful for opponents.