Although many fans and pundits alike are adamant that this year’s World Cup is Brazil’s, Argentina’s, France’s or England’s to lose – there are a number of teams outside of the top four favourites in the World Cup 2022 odds who are a good chance of causing an upset.
With that in mind, read on as we dissect two of the teams who could pose a significant threat in Qatar.
The Danish national team has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years – so much so they are now ranked 10th in the world. Their run at Euro 2020 showed exactly what they’re capable of – reaching the semi-finals for the first time since they won the tournament in 1992. If the Kasper Hjulmand-managed side can exhibit similar form throughout the upcoming World Cup – they’re a team you don’t want to face in the knockout stages.
An added advantage the Danes will have this time around compared to their semi-final run two years ago is the inclusion of a fully fit Christian Eriksen. In harrowing scenes at Euro 2020, Eriksen collapsed on the pitch in Denmark’s group game against Finland after suffering a cardiac arrest. His subsequent return has been both an inspirational and productive one, with the 30-year-old’s form at Brentford last season and Manchester United this Premier League campaign very strong.
While Eriksen’s presence is sure to galvanise his teammates, there are some other elite members of the squad to keep an eye on. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is one such player who has established himself as a true world-class talent throughout his 16-year career – with his performances at the Euros in particular nothing short of exceptional. However, the 36-year-old has struggled for form this season at Nice and will need to wind back the clock if his team has any chance of making a deep run.
Denmark is widely tipped to finish second behind France in Group D – while African nation Tunisia and the 38th world ranked team Australia make up the remaining two spots in their group.
While it would hardly be a surprise for many if Spain were to win this year’s World Cup, they are currently outside the top four in the betting lines and continue to be overlooked by some. There could be a couple of reasons as to why certain fans and pundits aren’t high on The Red Fury.
A major factor is that people often have a habit of comparing current teams to those of the past. There’s no doubting that the squad as currently constructed is not as formidable as the group of players who reigned supreme at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and both Euro 2008 and 2012. Nevertheless, that’s a harsh comparison to make, as that group is in many people’s eyes the greatest national football team ever assembled.
Xavi, Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres are just a handful of the Hall of Fame calibre players that wreaked havoc in Austria and Switzerland, South Africa, Poland and Ukraine more than a decade ago. However, while Spain may be going through somewhat of a transitional period – they’re still not short on youth and talent. That was evident in their Euro 2020 performance, reaching the semi-final before losing to eventual winners Italy on penalties.
Spain are predicted to top their group – yet it won’t be easy with international football heavyweight Germany also in Group E. Their match-up is arguably the best fixture of the group stage, taking place on November 27. Multiple-time round of 16 participants Japan and former World Cup quarter-finalists Costa Rica round out their group.
Will Spain’s squad be a mix of the too-young and the too-old, or has manager Luis Enrique achieved the right balance? I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and find out.