By. Emmett Lyall
Underdogs are one of the many features of soccer that make the game so special. Whether it’s Greece’s historic Euro Cup victory in 2004 or Leicester City’s impossible title-winning season of 2015/2016, there’s just something about the little team making it big that brings joy to nearly all sports fans. That being said, I’m going to be taking a look at some of the most promising underdogs of the upcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup.
(Ghana Sports Page)
Despite coming last in their group this past AFCON, Ghana is looking to be a strong team to keep an eye out for during the World Cup.
With a lineup consisting of stars such as Mohammed Kudus, Thomas Partey, Mohammed Salisu, and the Ayew brothers (André and Jordan), they were always going to look a dangerous side. However, the Black Stars have gotten a slew of new talent through a large number of players choosing to cut ties with the nation they previously represented. This includes the likes of Iñaki Williams, Tariq Lamptey, Eddie Nketiah, and potentially Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is yet to decide whether he wants to represent Ghana or England.
With all of this new talent, Ghana looks to be a team with a significant attacking threat. They will be facing off against Portugal, Uruguay, and South Korea in Group H, and look to be a real attacking threat to their opponents. While Portugal may have a particularly strong defence with Manchester City duo Rúben Dias and João Cancelo, both Uruguay and South Korea might be a bit shaky at the back dealing with the Black Stars offence.
The only thing that I could see holding back the Ghanaian team is their lack of strength in the backline. Players like Daniel Amartey and Baba Rahman may not be good enough to fend off the likes of Rafael Leão for Portugal, Son Heung-Min for South Korea, or Darwin Núñez for Uruguay. If they can find a way to stop these attackers from running rampant, then I think they could go far in this World Cup.
The controversial defeat against The Netherlands in 2014 will still be a fresh wound for both Mexican players and fans, and El Tri will want to do everything they can to put some more positive memories in the minds of those watching.
Their bright stars like Hirving Lozano, Edson Álvarez, and Diego Lainez, as well as experienced veterans such as Guillerme Ochoa, Raúl Jiménez, and Andrés Guardado, Mexico looks like a team that might just get a few big results in this year’s tournament. If possible, they will want to replicate their fortune from the last World Cup, which saw them emerge from what looked to be an incredibly difficult group in second place. If their more experienced players turn up the way they did in 2018, that is more than possible.
El Tri will be facing off against Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Poland in Group C at this year's world cup, in what should be three highly entertaining games. Despite not having the star names that both Poland and Argentina have in Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi, Mexico looks to be a very strong team in nearly every position, and many of the players have been playing together in the Liga BBVA MX for years. This gives them the chemistry advantage that may be lacking in the other three squads and could edge them into a knockout round spot.
I believe that the only key area that could potentially hold back this Mexico squad is in their attack. Raúl Jiménez has not looked the same since his horrific head injury in November of 2020, only putting up 7 goals for Wolverhampton since coming back. Despite this, Hirving Lozano has been prolific for Napoli this year, and if he takes the reins for the El Tri attack, I think that they could make it deep into the knockouts.
After failing to qualify for EURO 2020 and not advancing past the group stage of a World Cup since 1998, Serbia will look to make their country proud at this upcoming World Cup.
Boasting a lineup consisting of numerous European stars, the Serbian squad looks very strong on paper. With options such as Dušan Vlahović, Aleksander Mitrović, Dušan Tadić, Sergej Milinković-Savić, and Filip Kostić, it can be expected that scoring goals will not be an issue. They also look quite sound defensively, with some stand-out players being RB Salzburg’s center-back Strahinja Pavlović and Mallorca’s goalkeeper Predrag Rajković, who have both been having stand-out seasons at club level.
The Eagles will be facing off against Brazil, Switzerland, and Cameroon in Group G this year, which looks to be one of the more contentious groups of the World Cup. While Brazil are expected to go through, the second-place spot is up for grabs and I think Serbia could manage to get it over their opposition. While both Switzerland and Cameroon are strong teams, I do not believe that they have the depth that Serbia does, as well as the star power. While the games may be tight, I believe that Serbia should be able to squeeze into that second-place spot.
The only issue that may arise for Serbia is similar to that of Ghana, and many other national teams: getting the players to gel. Having so many good players who play for different teams in different leagues can result in a team lacking chemistry. It’s all up to the coach to figure out how to get the best out of each individual. If The Eagles can achieve that feat and quickly gain some chemistry, there’s not much that can stop them from going far.