As the World Cup draws closer, everyone will be talking about the pre-tournament favourites. But, as we’ve seen with international competitions before, there are always surprise packages who perform well. And, in many cases, upset the apple cart. But in Qatar, which teams will live up to the surprise package billing?
Believe it or not, we’re going to kick off this list by naming England as one of the surprise packages ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, even though they’re one of the favourites where the betting is concerned. What counts against England is their lack of success on the international stage in terms of winning trophies and their form coming into the tournament. Looking at the World Cup 2022 group tables, you’d expect England to progress. Still, it’s whether they can build on a semi-finals appearance at the 2018 World Cup and a penalty shootout defeat in the Euro 2020 final that will be the surprise, as the next step is to be a tournament winner.
Belgium have gone from being one of the best international teams on the planet to rank outsiders heading into the Qatar World Cup, which is surprising in itself. Again, like England, you expect Roberto Martinez’s side to make it out of the group, one which includes Canada, Croatia and Morocco. When they’re faced with what many will describe as tougher challenges later in the tournament is when it will count. And it’s not like Belgium doesn’t have the players, with the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in their ranks. Belgium have big game players, but they’re yet to really deliver on the international stage, but Qatar could be where it finally all comes together.
Mexico is an interesting prospect heading into the Qatar World Cup because while they’re massive outsiders, they’re a South American nation that always has that knack of impressing on the biggest stages. One of the first points to note is that it’s unlikely the heat will be an issue for the Mexicans, but it could be for the players from other teams, so this will potentially be an advantage. Mexico have a respected manager in Gerardo Martino too, who has led the team since 2019, and several of their players, such as Raul Jimenez, Jesus Corona and Edson Alvarez, will be keen to impress. And they can.
The final surprise package on our list is Poland. They’re in the same group as Mexico, alongside Argentina and Saudi Arabia. And while many will expect Argentina to make it through Group C with relative ease, the battle will be on for Poland to join them. What Poland have heading into the World Cup is a proven goalscorer in Robert Lewandowski. He remains one of the best number nines on the planet, even at thirty-four years old. And he will always give Poland a chance of fairing well against any team in the world.