Dark horses are the single greatest joy of any World Cup, and Qatar 2022 has a host of potential darlings.
International tournaments enable underdogs in a way that domestic football simply cannot. This is because the competitive level is slightly lower.
International teams have much less time to train together, and aren’t as stuffed with superstars as club sides. You don’t have to be a bombastic whirl of near perfection to succeed in international football. Often, a functional team sprinkled with some stardust and serendipity can be enough.
In that vein, we outline three teams who would capture the hearts of fans over the next four weeks.
The idea that Serbia is a good team won’t be news to anybody. However, the 2022 World Cup could be when they show everyone just how good they are. Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic will play up front behind Ajax’s Dusan Tadic in midfield. No defense will feel comfortable playing against them. The team which also boasts Lazio star Sergeij Milinkovic-Savic qualified without losing a single game and will not be afraid of anybody.
Poland are a problem for any team they face because they have one of football’s greatest ever goalscorers. Teams have to adapt to play against Robert Lewandowski because he is so good. They have further firepower in the shape of Juventus striker Arkadiusz Milik. In defence, they have Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski and Wojciech Szcesny in goal. Have an off day against Poland and you’ll be in trouble.
Son Heung-min isn’t having the greatest season for Spurs, but that could be an opportunity. Away from the Premier League, propelled by the support of a nation that adores him, Son could be revitalised. At 30 years old, this World Cup is his chance to show how much he has learned over his career. As Spurs fans know, there is perhaps no other player in the world more capable of going supernova and banging in goals from all over the place for a few weeks. If he gets going, he and South Korea will be difficult to stop.