At international football tournaments, sometimes it can seem that only the heavy-hitters are in contention to bring home the trophy – and many times, this can be correct; but sometimes, it’s not the case.
Would anyone have predicted Denmark to win the European Championships in 1992? The side didn’t even qualify, and only featured in the tournament due to the dissolvement of Yugoslavia, but yet, at the end of the tournament it was the Danes with their hands on the cup.
The same can be said for Greece in 2004, with the Greeks a side that nobody fancied to add their name to the list of Euro champions, and yet still, through resolute play (and some strokes of luck) they were champs.
There opponents on that day were Portugal, who in 2016 went some way to redemption for 12 years previous when their side had an outsider victory of their own in France.
The likes of Germany, France and Brazil will be the ones tipped to take home the Jules Rimet trophy at the end of World Cup Russia 2018, but as the above examples show, outsiders can make their mark on an international level.
Here we have a look at some potential dark horses for the competition to find the best outsiders for World Cup betting 2018.
World Cup 2018 outsiders betting odds
Once you’ve picked your favourite World Cup outsider, make sure to get betting value by finding the best odds*.
*Odds subject to change
Read on for an analysis of each outsider’s chances, and why you might consider backing them in the World Cup 2018 betting.
- World Cup 2018 outsiders betting odds
- Portugal – Can the Current Euro Champs Claim the World Title?
- Uruguay – Can Suarez and Cavani Restore Uruguay To Former Glory?
- Poland – Can Lewandowski Lead His Nation to Victory?
- England – Can The 3 Lions Bring Football Home?
- Serbia – Can Serbs Build on Strong Qualifying Stages?
- Colombia – South Americans Boast Attacking Potency
- Croatia – One of The Strongest Cores Going to Russia
- Denmark - Can the Danes Replicate the Magic of 1992?
- Nigeria – Can an African Team Get Their Hands on The World Cup?
- Other Teams in With a Shout
Portugal – Can the Current Euro Champs Claim the World Title?
Perhaps the current European Champions shouldn’t be considered world cup outsiders, especially considering they have one of the most decorated and clinical footballers of all-time in their ranks with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid superstar will be looking to cement his position as the greatest of all time with a World Cup win. With a seemingly insatiable desire to win, you wouldn’t put it by him and his side. At 33 years old, it may also represent the Portuguese stalwarts last realistic opportunity of helping his nation to their first World Cup trophy.
While Ronaldo is undoubtedly Portugal’s stand-out player (as he has been effectively since he first donned a shirt for his country in 2004), they do have plenty more quality players in their side.
They have got a solid defense of Pepe and Jose Fonte, with goalkeeper Rui Patricio behind them who proved pivotal in the Euro 2016 glory. Accompanying Ronaldo in the attacking positions will likely be Ricardo Queresma and Andre Silva, who will be hoping to contribute in addition to their star player.
In the midfield, there is a very solid trio of Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva and Willian Carvalho. If this starting line-up can stay fit and play to form, then they could be a threat to any side in the tournament.
Portugal are certainly expected to get out of their group (Group B), where they have to face up against the considerable might of geographical neighbours Spain, but also two of the tournaments weaker sides in Iran and Morocco.
The opening match against Spain on the 15th of June is one of the stand-out games of the group stages, and the eyes of the world will be watching, but once that is completed, win-draw-or-lose, the following two matches should surely be plain sailing for Fernando Santos’s side.
Uruguay – Can Suarez and Cavani Restore Uruguay To Former Glory?
With this South American side boasting some of the most talented footballers in the world, Uruguay will be hoping to emulate the form of old (they were the original World Cup winners back in 1930 and again in 1950) and stake a claim for the trophy.
Performing well throughout qualifying campaign that was tough for many sides such as Chile – who didn’t make the grade – and Argentina (who just scraped through), the Uruguayans will be hoping star strike partnership Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez can help them through to at the very least the later stages of World Cup 2018.
Barcelona’s Suarez is no doubt one of the highest rated players at the tournament, so if he can remain fit and keep firing, Uruguay could be potential dark horses for the tournament.
The Uruguayan defense is very experienced, with Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez both playing alongside each other at club level for one of the best defensive club teams in the world, Atletico Madrid.
Down the middle, Uruguay are weaker, but with such talent at the front and back of their team, they may cause problems for plenty of teams in the tournament.
Viewers won’t need to wait long to see Uruguay in action because they are in Group A of the tournament, and manager Oscar Tabarez will be confident his side can make it to the knock-out rounds as they play against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt; Saudi Arabia; and, in the final match of the group, hosts Russia.
With Uruguay appearing a near sure-thing for the knock-outs and the quality that have in their side, they may go far, and could represent a world cup outsider with a genuine chance of contention.
Poland – Can Lewandowski Lead His Nation to Victory?
It would be incredible if Poland somehow managed to secure a World Cup, but considering they have one of the best strikers at the tournament, one can’t rule them out completely.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is one of the most prolific strikers heading to the World Cup at Russia in 2018. The Polish striker is getting the chance to feature in his first World Cup, and is surely a contender for top scorer if his nation can go far, with his record of 151 goals in 195 games at Munich quite frankly remarkable.
He, and his side, will have a great deal to come up against to go far in the tournament, so consider them rank outsiders, although with a player of Lewandowski’s calibre amongst their ranks, they have the slightest chance of contending with the likes of heavy hitters such as Argentina and Spain.
It’s not just the main man up top that offers quality for Poland. They have a goalkeeping headache in choosing between Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski; they’ve got defensive strength with Kamil Glik and Lukasz Piszczek; and they’ve got quality in the middle with the likes of Jakub Blaszczykowski.
The Polish side will fancy their chances at making their way through Group H, as they face up against Columbia, Japan and Senegal. It’s not an easy group, but Poland showed in qualifying (finishing above Denmark) that they are a good side.
Weather the Poles succeed in securing 1st or 2nd place in their group, they look likely to have to face a stern test in the first knock-out match as they will play a side who has progressed from Group G – likely either Belgium or England.
England – Can The 3 Lions Bring Football Home?
Media hype has never done England any favours, and as positivity turns to irritation as a result of continued disappointment, perhaps England will have a better opportunity of progressing to a late stage of the World Cup in Russia and contesting for the trophy.
A qualification campaign that the nation progressed through with ease under the management of Gareth Southgate (well, for the majority, with Sam Allardyce in charge at the beginning) has got them to the finals, but how well they will do remains to be seen. England have eased through qualification campaigns in the past only to be let down at finals.
If a team filled with talented individuals such as Harry Kane and Dele Alli can perform well against the big sides, they could make a decent stab at the tournament.
They have got some relatively inexperienced players among their ranks, but refreshment was something that English supporters had wanted for a long time.
The defense has a particularly new-shape look to it with Jordan Pickford in goals and Manchester City’s John Stones marshalling a likely back 3.
The midfield in the side is one that may see some chopping and changing as the tournament goes on, but there are some decent players in there, including Raheem Sterling and the aforementioned Alli.
One thing that does aid England’s chances is that on paper, they have one of the easiest groups in the tournament to progress from. They do have to face up against a very talented Belgian side, but they may already have qualified to the knockout stages by this point – there first two matches are against Tunisia and Panama.
With the English looking dead-certs to make it to the knock-outs, if they can put their past failures firmly behind them and with a stroke of luck, they could surprise people at Russia 2018. Of all the teams on this list the English have the shortest odds, but if they took home the trophy it would still be a victory for a world cup outsider.
Serbia – Can Serbs Build on Strong Qualifying Stages?
The Serbian national team finished top of their qualifying group, beating out the likes of the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Austria on the way. It’s no surprise the side made it to Russia 2018, considering the quality among their ranks.
Players such as Dusan Tadic, Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic are all top Premier League players, and they’re joined by a host of other names that British shores would be familiar with.
Playing up front is the man who played a huge part in helping Fulham make their way back to the premier league in England, Aleksander Mitrovic, who spearheaded the Cottagers to the top division with his goal scoring prowess during his loan move from Newcastle united.
One of the reasons Serbia find themselves as World Cup outsiders is that they feature on one of the strongest groups in the tournament – perhaps the closest thing Russia 2018 has to a “group of death”.
Group E is comprised of the Serbs, Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. The Brazilians will have their eyes on making amends for their much-publicized failure on home turf, and won’t want to let anyone get in there way of doing so.
Even with this being the case, Serbia will hope to get their campaign off to winning ways against Costa Rica, and with a potentially pivotal game against Switzerland after that, they may have already secured qualification by the time they meet Brazil.
Colombia – South Americans Boast Attacking Potency
Colombia surprised a lot of people with an incredible run at World Cup 2014 in Brazil. They managed to get to the quarter finals, getting knocked out by hosts Brazil, with attacking midfielder James Rodriguez stunning football fans from across the globe by winning the Golden Boot with six goals and also goal of the tournament with his rasping volley against Uruguay in the last 16 match.
Striker Radamel Falcao wasn’t fit for that tournament, and after a few disappointing years plying his trade in England with Manchester United and Chelsea, the forward is beginning to find form at Monaco resembling his time with Atletico Madrid.
If Falcao and Rodriguez, now at Munich on loan from Real Madrid, can emulate and improve upon their countries form from Brazil 2014, they could be one of the most entertaining teams at the tournament.
That being said, there manager, Jose Pekerman likes to play a patient brand of possession football, breaking sides down over time and then using the considerable attacking talent to deal damage on the counter.
Colombia won’t have it easy in Group H against Japan, Poland and Senegal as all 3 sides have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of throughout qualifying.
Poland will also fancy top position in the group, and with Colombia facing the Poles in the 2nd match of the group stage, that is the game to watch out for. The side who get 1st or 2nd in the group is likely to play either England or Belgium, so they will have to face significant tests if they are to go far in the competition.
Croatia – One of The Strongest Cores Going to Russia
In qualifying, Croatia unexpectedly finished behind an impressively unified Iceland team, meaning they had to compete in a play-off to gain entry to the tournament. In this, they made short work of Greece to cement their place in Russia.
Head coach Zlatko Dalic will be hoping his side can perform better in the tournament than they did in the qualifiers, and thanks to some excellent players among their ranks, they very well might do just that.
The Croats boast possibly the strongest midfield of any team in the tournament – they’re that good. There’s Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic – the former just coming off a third consecutive Champions League victory with Real Madrid and the latter winning yet another La Liga with Barcelona.
Any team in the world would be delighted with a midfield pairing with the quality of Modric and Rakitic, but it doesn’t end there. Ivan Perisic – currently playing with Inter Milan but has constantly been linked with a move to England, which may just materialize this Summer – offers an attacking threat both on the wing and through the middle.
Striker Mario Mandzukic may represent a dark horse for top goal scorer at the competition – if he plays to his considerable talents and Croatia go far in the tournament, then he’s in with a shout.
The defense of the side is incredibly experienced with the likes of Vedran Corluka and Domagoj Vida very accustomed to playing for their national team.
Croatia do not have an easy group by any means, and will be tested from the start. Group D includes themselves, Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland. On paper, Croatia would be expecting to get at least second place, but all 3 of these teams pack a punch, and perhaps more so than any group in the competition, everything is up for grabs.
If Croatia make it through the groups – which won’t be easy – then anything could happen in the knock-out stages.
Denmark – Can the Danes Replicate the Magic of 1992?
After not making it to the European Championships in 2016, Denmark are hoping to make up for this with a sterling performance in Russia at the World Cup.
They are no doubt World Cup outsiders, but they have shown in particularly the latter half of their qualification that they’re a side not to be reckoned with – especially in the play-off match against Ireland, where they demolished the Irish on home turf, with Christian Eriksen bagging a hat-trick.
They will be featuring in one of the most interesting groups at the tournament, group C, which includes the Danes, France, Peru and Australia.
While the French will rightly fancy themselves as group favourites, second place is up for grabs from 3 sides that impressed at times throughout qualifying. The opening group game against Peru – who pipped Chile to a qualification spot – may go on to define which side progresses to the knock-outs.
If Denmark can get the better of Peru and play in the fashion they did against Ireland, then they will be a match for most teams at the tournament, with the side being lauded as the best Danish team since 1992.
Nigeria – Can an African Team Get Their Hands on The World Cup?
At such huge odds, Nigeria are very much so an outsider for the World Cup for the tournament, but in terms of African sides, they offer the most potency.
The side have very possibly the nicest kit among any of the sides in the competition and go by the particularly cool nickname of the Super Eagles. They’re a very likable team, but can they do damage in Russia?
They have several players that will be familiar to fans of English football, with the likes of Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, Ahmed Musa and John Obi Mikel among their ranks.
From those players alone, there’s a lot of threat going forward, so Nigeria will be looking to break down their opponents.
These opponents come from the same group as the aforementioned Croatia and perhaps go some way to suggesting why the odds are so large.
If Nigeria can make it through Croatia, Iceland and/or Argentina, then you can expect their odds to decrease significantly as they aim to become the first African side to win the World Cup.
Other Teams in With a Shout
With the World Cup bringing the best talent from teams all over the world together, there are some other teams who would consider themselves World Cup outsiders.
Both Mexico and Switzerland are priced at 100/1, but both sides will be quietly hopeful of making an impact in Russia.
Sweden will not have their iconic stalwart Zlatan Ibrahimović at the competition as he retired following Euro 2016, but they will be optimistic of causing some under-the-radar upsets without him. The Swedes are 150/1 to taste World Cup glory for the first time.
Egypt have a secret weapon in their ranks – possibly the best footballer in the world at the moment, Mohamed Salah. When Salah went down with injury in the Champions League final, an entire nation gasped. Thankfully, it looks like he will be fit to feature in the tournament, and even though they’re rank World Cup outsiders, the Egyptians will be hopeful their star can bring them far in the competition. Egypt are 200/1 to be crowned World Cup Champs.
Whoever takes home the trophy, World Cup outsider or not, Russia 2018 is shaping up to be an excellent competition!