Which Country Could Cause an Upset at the 2022 World Cup


As we begin to count down the days until the 2022 World Cup, anticipation is beginning to build with each passing domestic fixture. The European football leagues are in full swing and games will be coming thick and fast to keep up with the demand of November’s enforced winter break. Of course, the tournament taking place in Qatar will feel unique compared to the usual summer slot, but after waiting so long, everyone is looking forward to the return of international football’s biggest competition, especially those who bet on World Cup 2022 with Paddy Power.

It’s still proving difficult to pick an outright winner in the Middle East, but with the likes of France and Brazil storming through qualifying, it’s hard not to see the defending champions or the South Americans reaching the latter stages of the competition. However, this is the World Cup and things are unpredictable. There’s always an outside chance that a team can go on a fairy-tale run to the final and therefore it’s impossible to rule any side out. With that in mind, read on as we look at the nations we think are capable of an outside shot at this year’s World Cup.

Netherlands 

This will be the first time since 2014 that the Netherlands have featured in a World Cup, having embarrassingly failed to qualify for Russia four years ago. Finalists in South Africa and third in Brazil, the Dutch have always had a reputation for performing well in major tournaments — making the maiden final of the Nations League when there were four teams involved — and while this current crop of players are inexperienced at international level, they still possess some genuinely world class footballers who will be relishing the opportunity to represent their country. 

On top of this, manager Louis van Gaal, who was diagnosed with cancer, will be stepping down from his role at the end of the tournament, giving the players that extra bit of motivation to get the job done for their boss. While Georginio Wijnaldum’s leg break is unfortunate, the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Frenkie de Jong have enough quality to go all the way in Qatar, despite their lack of tournament football together.

Senegal

It’s important not to rule out Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal, who are enjoying a golden era of players, with a squad comprised of Premier League regulars. Sadio Mané, Édouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly will be hoping to help Senegal become the first African winners of the World Cup, and with World Cup news reporting defender Bouna Sarr will be fit to play despite game time dwindling at Bayern Munich, there’s every chance they can top a group with fellow outsiders the Netherlands, Ecuador and hosts Qatar.

Argentina 

It might seem strange to see Argentina on this list given that they are current holders of the Copa América and recently won the Finalissima at Wembley against Italy, but the South Americans struggled at the last tournament and their lack of squad depth could cause them issues. That being said, the brilliance of Lionel Messi, who looks back to his best domestically this season for Paris Saint-Germain and now finally got his hands on international silverware, could be enough to carry Argentina through. 

Their squad is threadbare, particularly in defensive areas, and they’ll miss the leadership of Javier Mascherano, who was such a reliable Albiceleste servant for so long, but should their attackers work as a cohesive unit there’s every chance Lionel Scaloni’s side can finally win another World Cup. What a crescendo it would be for the international career of football’s greatest ever player.

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