The Outsiders for World Cup 2018
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.
Cup competitions can also bring outsiders to the fore. Denmark in 1992, Greece in 2004, even Portugal in 2016 – outsiders can make their mark on an international level.
Here we have a look at some potential dark horses and outsiders for the competition.
Perhaps the current European Champions shouldn’t be considered outsiders, especially considering they have one of the most decorated and clinical footballers of all-time in their ranks with Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid superstar will be looking to cement his position as the greatest of all time with a World Cup win.
Another South American side boasting one of the best 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 and Argentina, 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.
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 striker’s heading to the World Cup at Russia in 2018. 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.
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 – just don’t get your hopes up.
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.
Looking likely to trump the Republic of Ireland and Wales to 1st place in their group, the Serbs will be looking to build on this momentum and perform well at Russia 2018. While they will definitely not be in most people’s running for the competition, with as many high-quality players in their ranks as they do, it would be remiss to rule them out entirely just yet.
Columbia 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 gaols 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, and who knows how well they could do?
No African country has ever won the world cup trophy. Current highest seeded team Ivory Coast will be hoping to change this at World Cup 2018.
With superstar Didier Drogba no longer playing international football, it will be up to the new crop of players to fill his large void – a powerful strike force of Wilfried Bony, Jonathan Kodjia, Seydou Doumbia, Gervinho and Wilfred Zaha will hope to do the job.
With talent all over the pitch with the aforementioned strike force and players like Franck Kessié of AC Milan and Yaya Touré of Manchester City, the Ivorian’s will see themselves as possible contenders entering the tournament.
Chile are, now, rank outsiders for the World Cup… because they mightn’t even be there! The Copa America Champions and Confederations Cup finalists may be perhaps the most shocking omission from the tournament if they don’t make up the points to qualify in next two match days, with Argentina and Peru ahead of them, and only two of the three will be in contention for the finals.
If they do qualify for the tournament, their recent pedigree will surely put them in contention as outsiders for the trophy. If Alexis Sanchez and co. were to pull it off, it would be one of the least likely stories in footballing history, so it can’t be heartily recommended to back them, but there is quality there.