Before each tournament, there are the favorites who assume their status and the outsiders who manage to seize their chance. Here are our five surprises for Worlds 2022.
Senegal: Lions not yet satisfied
Never, in the long and rich history of the World Cup, has an African selection managed to climb into the last four. If any team can break the glass ceiling in December, it’s Senegal. It must be said that everything succeeds for the Lions of Teranga in 2022. Winners of their very first AFCON at the start of the year, they then validated their ticket for Qatar by taking the best of Egypt during a stifling barrage ( 0-1, 1-0, 3-1 TAB). Aliou Cissé’s band is very competitive on all lines, even if Sadio Mané’s package is necessarily a blow. With players who mostly evolve in big European clubs and a remarkable collective solidarity, the Senegalese pack should be able to get out of a group which includes the host country, the Netherlands and Ecuador. Next ? All dreams are allowed.
Iran: we can’t stop the progress of the Tim Melli
In 2018, Iran fell just one point short of qualifying for the round of 16, giving Spain and Portugal a hard time. This performance gave a good overview of the progress made by the Tim Melli who, in five participations, has still not managed to extricate himself from the group stage. Four years after the Russian meeting, we would put a small piece on the troop of Carlos Queiroz. Returning to the Iranian bench last September, after having already been there from 2011 to 2019, the Portuguese technician has taken over a well-established team, which has grown in maturity and knows how to rely on its strengths. We obviously think of his offensive strike force, embodied in the first place by Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi, engaged in the Champions League with Bayer Leverkusen and FC Porto. It is certain, the Lions of Iran will have a good card to play in a very English-speaking group B, which also includes England, the United States and Wales.
Denmark: the strength of the collective
Zero: like the number of points taken by the French team against Denmark during the recent group stage of the League of Nations. Cooled in Saint-Denis (1-2), the world champions were then dominated in wide widths in Copenhagen (2-0). Some will say – and they won’t be wrong – that the Blues weren’t very dashing then. Others will say – and they will also be right – that these Danes can go very far during the World Cup. The Reds and Whites show impressive collective strength, especially since the heart attack suffered by Christian Eriksen in June 2021. The talented playmaker has returned to a very good level and brings his little touch of madness to the semi-finalists of the last Euro, which show no apparent flaw. Kasper Schmeichel’s teammates (who will cross paths with the French again during the group stage) can aim for the quarters. At a minimum.
Canada: a breath of fresh air from the north
Ghosts. Absent from the final stages of the World Cup since 1986, Canada is preparing to make its return to the big table this winter. And he did it, finishing top of the CONCACAF zone qualifiers (ahead of the United States and Mexico) after an impressive campaign from start to finish. Admittedly, the Canucks will suffer from a lack of experience compared to their opponents in group F (Belgium, Morocco, Croatia). But they can easily compensate by focusing on the enthusiasm and carelessness that have carried them for many months now. It’s up to Jonathan David from Lille, Alphonso Davies from Bavaria and all their teammates to breathe a breath of fresh air into this World Cup that we would obviously be able to appreciate at its fair value.
Serbia: abundance of goods does not harm
As in 2018, Brazil and Switzerland will face Serbia in the group stage. The Selection and the National However, they will have a hard time recognizing it, the aging selection of the Russian World Cup having given way to a training that is clearly rejuvenated and, above all, steeped in talent. Dušan Vlahović, Filip Kostić, Dušan Tadić and Sergej Milinković-Savić are among the stars lighting up the Old Continent, while the amazing Aleksandar Mitrović continues to wreak havoc in the Premier League. Dragan Stojković therefore has the choice of the king when putting the names of his holders on the score sheet. In November, the Eagles had struck a blow by seeking their qualification in Lisbon, on the ground of a Portugal mortified at the last minute (1-2). A major success and a reference match for the Serbian armada, aware of its ability to overthrow the leaders. Attention danger !