Every league, every cup competition, and tournament in any sport across the globe will always have underdogs. Those plucky teams cause the favourites real headaches, cause upsets, and generally turn the form book on its head. Here, we look at the top five underdogs and how they are faring at the Qatar World Cup 2022.
Uruguay is one of those footballing nations that often offer much but deliver little. They have reached the quarter-finals before but failed to get further than that in the previous 52 tournaments. The South Americans came into the Qatar World Cup full of hope, with young striker Darwin Nunez expected to star. However, the player has struggled for consistent form following his move to Liverpool from Benfica, which has carried forward into the World Cup. Toothless against South Korea and in the defeat to Portugal has left the team floundering and on the verge of elimination at the group stage. Luiz Suarez has also struggled, and stalwart Edinson Cavani has not been given the game time many expected. Another four years will need to pass before that quarter-final hoodoo can finally be broken.
The Socceroos have not reached the knockout stages of the World Cup since 2016, and an opening group game defeat to France by four goals to one looked to have ended the party before it had even started. Yet the Australian team are battlers and bounced back with a game two defeat over Tunisia, leaving their hopes hanging by a thread but still in with a shot at progression into the last 16. Denmark awaits next, so what are the possible outcomes that could see the Socceroos progress?
The simplest way is to beat Denmark, which guarantees progression to the knockout stages. A dew makes things somewhat more complicated. If Tunisia were to beat France, unlikely, but with the reigning World champions already through and tempted to rest players for the game, they would join Australia on four points. However, Tunisia has a better goal difference, and the four-one defeat to France would see Australia end third and head home. Defeat, and it’s all over. Why not have a bet and get free spins no deposit NZ!
No other Asian country has played at the World Cup more than South Korea. They first qualified in 1954 and shocked Germany in 2018 by beating Germany in a year that now Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min hit hero status. 2022 promised much despite being underdogs. Still, after two games, the Koreans have left themselves with a huge mountain to climb. A dull goalless draw against Uruguay followed by a valiant effort but ultimately fruitless one against Ghana, where Korea lost 3-2, means they have just one point before facing Portugal in the final game. The only possible way that Korea can progress is by winning. A defeat or draw will see them eliminated at the first hurdle. However, a win is not straightforward in terms of what it means. If they beat Portugal and Uruguay beats Ghana, they too will be level on points, and goal difference will come into play. Likewise, if Korea wins and Ghana beats or even draws with the Uruguayans, Ghana and Korea will have level points, and the better goal difference will see that team into the round of 16.
At the delayed 2020 Euros, Denmark was a team taken to many fans’ hearts. The collapse of Christian Eriksen and the team"s subsequent run to the semi-finals showed that football is only a game and with a now fit miracle man again in Eriksen in the squad, Denmark was seen as getting out of the group stages. A defeat and a draw have left them needing a win over the Socceroos in their final game. If both Denmark and Tunisia win, then second place will come down to the tiebreaker rules.
United States of America
A 1-1 draw against Wales in the opening group game, followed by a hard-working goalless draw against England, means that the USA has everything to do to make the round of 16. Iran is their final opponent, who has been a Jekyll and Hyde team so far. A 6-2 defeat at the hands of England had them looking as certainties to be eliminated, but they came back to stun Wales 2-0, leaving them on three points and the US on just two points. Iran simply needs a draw, whereas the USA needs to win to proceed.
Difficult Task for World Cup Underdogs
The final group games will be tough for each of these World Cup underdogs, but each hopes they can spring one final shock in the group stages and sneak into the round of 16.
Let us know your thoughts, who you feel will go through, and who will be heading home knowing that the World Cup dream is over for another four years.
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