The Underdogs’ World Cup?
World champions Germany are out of the World Cup at the first hurdle. It’s the first time they’ve experienced this in 80 years. Coincidently, it’s now the third time in succession that the holders have been dumped out at the group stage.
While the shock will undoubtedly reverberate around the globe, the focus should be on the theme that seems to be developing in Russia: this could be the year an underdog goes all the way to lift the famous trophy.
Russia have been very impressive so far, despite the fact that they failed to top their group. The hosts have topped one particular table, the distance covered in the matches so far. However, they were beaten to top spot by Uruguay, a possible candidate to surprise many in this competition.
The South American side are the only team yet to concede a goal in the competition, which is largely down to their sensational defensive partnership of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez – Diego Simeone’s proteges.
The former Copa American champions also have a star-studded strike partnership to go along with their solid defence, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez don’t need much to finish off the opposition.
Manager Óscar Tabárez switched his tactics in Uruguay’s final group game against Russia, opting for a 3-5-2 which the saw the inclusion of rumours Arsenal new-boy Lucas Torreira. The results of this switch give further credence that this could be the year of the underdog in the World Cup. Uruguay dispatched of the hosts with a comfortable 3-0 win.
Elsewhere in Group D, Croatia are the only other side to boast a 100% record in the group stages of the competition and made light work of humbling the favourites in their group, Argentina. A midfield consisting of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic will always cause problems.
Croatia have also been solid at the back, with the only goal they’ve conceded coming from the penalty spot in their final group game against Iceland.
The likes of Mexico, Switzerland and Colombia have also all impressed, the latter of which is still in a three-way fight in Group H to see if they make into the last-16.
We’re at the stage now where most people can throw their predictions out of the window, and re-work their way through the tournament brackets, carefully considering the result of each match as the final draws near.
It’s not inconceivable to imagine one of the aforementioned ‘underdogs’ making it to the final four and, if they reach that stage, anything is possible.