3 possible dark horses at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Montenegro v Netherlands - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Depay and Co. in action for Netherland

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in 46 days, with the excitement of football’s biggest competition building up steadily. At the moment, national team coaches are finalizing their tactics, and the squad announcement for the competition is near.

The favorites are already on everyone's lips. The likes of Brazil and France have massive quality and can be victorious. However, the World Cup has had its fair share of surprises in the past. In 2010, Ghana were the side on everyone’s lips after the Black Stars missed out on a semi-final spot on penalties.

In 2014, Costa Rica were the dark horses of the competition. First, they topped a group with Italy, England, and Uruguay and made it to the quarter-finals. In 2018, Croatia emerged as the dark horse and made it to the final for the first time in their history.

With the World Cup around the corner, this article looks at a few countries that might emerge as dark horses in this edition of the FIFA World Cup..

#1 Denmark

Denmark are ranked 10th in the world
Denmark are ranked 10th in the world

Denmark were the dark horses in the European Championships last summer. Their impressive display saw them progress to the semi-finals, only to be outdone by a controversial Harry Kane penalty. Denmark can be the dark horses again with similar quality in the squad headed for the FIFA World Cup.

The Danish side is currently ranked 10th in the FIFA rankings, and rightfully so. The Danes topped their qualifying group, losing only one game. They finished second, only behind Croatia, despite beating France 2-0 in their final match.

Last time out, Croatia knocked Denmark out of the competition in the second round on penalties.

Their best finish at the FIFA World Cup was in 1998 when Brazil knocked them out in the quarter-finals.

#2 Senegal

Mane and Co. can make it out of the group for the first time in their history
Mane and Co. can make it out of the group for the first time in their history

The African Champions are ranked 18th in the world rankings. Their famous victory against France in 2002 is regarded as one of the biggest shocks in FIFA World Cup history. This is only Senegal's third appearance in this competition. Their other appearances were in 2002 and 2018.

With the likes of Sadio Mane and Eduoard Mendy, Senegal could emerge as one of the dark horses this winter. Last time out, they were knocked out of the group stage on a fair-play basis, allowing Japan to qualify ahead of them.

However, they have the quality to become the first African side to make it past the quarrter-finals this time.

They topped their group in the initial qualifying stage before beating Egypt to qualify for the competition. They were handed a relatively tough group with the hosts, Qatar, the Netherlands, and Ecuador.

#3 The Netherlands

Netherlands are ranked eighth in the world
Netherlands are ranked eighth in the world

The Dutch national team was notably absent in the 2018 edition. Their last appearance, in 2014, was one to remember as they finished third in the competition.

They are led by the same man who took them to their last FIFA World Cup, Louis Van Gaal. The 71-year-old tactician will be keen on taking his country further this time.

The Netherlands have been unbeaten since Van Gaal returned to the squad and have drawn only four games. They topped their Nations League group, beating Belgium home and away. At the moment, they are ranked eighth in the world.

The Netherlands have been in the FIFA World Cup final on three occasions and have lost all three. In 2010, they were beaten by Spain 1-0.

Nonetheless, with the quality of this team in all areas, the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Memphis Depay, and Frenkie De Jong, they have the quality to clinch the title for the first time in the nation's history.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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