Most people have Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, and France as their favorites to win the FIFA World Cup. But, there are some interesting teams that might surprise us a whole lot!
Do you remember the European Championship in 1992? You probably don’t, but it was won by Denmark after beating Germany in the final. In 2004, the European Championship was won by Greece, another big surprise! In 2016, the European Championship was won by Portugal, not as big a surprise as the Danish victory in 1992 and the Greek victory in 2004, but still a surprise!
In the FIFA World Cup we haven’t had such big surprises for a long time, but instead, the big football nations such as Germany, Brazil, Spain, Italy, and France seems to rule the World Championships. We do not believe that a giant outsider will win the World Cup in 2018 either, but with every World Cup, there are some teams taking us by surprise. In 2014, the biggest surprise of the tournament was probably Costa Rica. Which nations will surprise us in 2018?
Who will surprise us in 2018?
All nations are capable of surprising us, but there are a couple nations we believe will stand out, and they might make it all the way till the semi-final of the tournament. The three nations are Denmark, Poland, and Serbia.
Some might take it as an insult that I add Poland to this category. They were seeded in the first group, and they were number 6 on the official FIFA ranking back then. At the moment, Poland is number 8 on the FIFA ranking. But, will it be a surprise if such a great team will get to the semi-final of the World Cup? It shouldn’t be, but Poland is still not known to the common man as a great team. They have the big Lewandowski, but besides him, the team mostly consist of not so well-known players.
Poland has a great defense, they are a solid team, and they seldom do mistakes. They did lose 4-0 against Denmark in the World Cup qualification, but that was a seldom mistake from the Polish team.
What will cause trouble for Poland is not the group they are in, but the knockout stage. I do expect Poland to win their group in front of Colombia, Japan, and Senegal. But, once they move on towards the knockout stage they will get a tough time. They will most likely play against Belgium or England in the 1/8 -final, If they beat England/Belgium in the 1/8 final, they will most likely play against Germany in an eventual quarter-final, so it is not an easy road to walk on for Poland. Poland has a tough World Cup in front of them, but I believe they will be capable of surprising us!
Denmark hasn’t lost a match with their national team since the autumn of 2016. In the same period they have played fantastic football (at times), and their most remarkable victories were the 5-1 victory against Ireland in the last playoff match for the World Cup, and their 4-0 victory against Poland.
Christian Eriksen is their big star-player, and he has blossomed in the national team since the Norwegian coach Åge Hareide arrived. Denmark surprised us bigtime in 1992 as they won the European Championship, and we believe that in this tournament they might surprise us again. But, the first match in the tournament against Peru (a team that hasn’t lost since the autumn of 2016 either) will be crucial. If they get a good start on the tournament, this might all happen, but if they lose the opening match, it might have a terrible effect on the team. We believe, however, that Denmark will perform well in the tournament, and they will either win the group or end up second behind France.
Winning the group might be of great importance because the team ending up second will play against the winner of group D. Who cares? Group D consists of Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria, and Iceland, and Argentina is most likely to win the group. But, Croatia is a tough opponent, so we believe Argentina and Croatia will process to the knockout stage from the group. If Denmark gets Argentina as their opponent in the 1/8-final, the tournament might take a quick end for them, but again, they are capable of playing fantastic football, so anything can happen.
The big surprise in the FIFA World Cup in 2014 was Costa Rica. In 2018, Costa Rica will play again, but we believe they will have great trouble surprising us again. Instead, we believe Serbia will take their place. On June 17th, Costa Rica will play against Serbia in the FIFA World Cup, and this might be the match telling us which team will be the surprise team of the tournament. Based on their recent results, Serbia is favorites to win. Their super-attacker Mitrovic who had a fantastic season in Fulham, and who has scored quite a lot of goals in the national team, might have the X-factor needed to bring Serbia to the knockout stage.
Serbia was seeded in group 4 as the groups were made. They are therefore the supposedly weakest team in the group, but we have no problem imagining Serbia ending up second in E, behind Brazil, but in front of Switzerland and Costa Rica. But, if they do, they will most likely play against Germany already in the 1/8-final, and that will probably be a too tough opponent for the team. In a World Cup anything can happen, so maybe Serbia can even grab a point against Brazil or beat them, and suddenly Brazil will play against Germany in an eventual 1/8-final, and instead, Serbia will play against Sweden or Mexico?
Only one more day of waiting
Writing about the World Cup makes me understand how much I look forward to the tournament. Every single match is interesting, and every single moment might create the unforgettable situation that we will remember for a lifetime.