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World Cup 2018: Three underdogs who could cause an upset in Russia

Divesh Merani
Top 5 / Top 10
2.35K   //    08 Jun 2018, 15:36 IST

The World Cup is a platform for great players to become legends
The World Cup is a platform for great players to become legends

Every time at the World Cup, there are a few surprise packages who step up on the grand stage and take the world by storm. A combination of team spirit, talismanic players and low expectations could propel certain underdogs to a respectable position at the World Cup. We saw the likes of Costa Rica and Colombia surprising many people last time out, with the former winning a group featuring Italy, England and Uruguay. That was some feat.

Teams like Senegal, South Korea, Ukraine and Uruguay have also stepped up in recent years. There will be a few teams who will want to take advantage of fewer eyes on them to really flourish on the global stage. When the entire squad of players is focused on the prize, their hunger and desire could cause problems to many teams in the tournament.

There are so many fantastic players scattered in different teams, strong or weak. Some of them may not be able to lift a nation on their shoulders, while others might. The supporting cast can be as important as the stars after all.

On that note, here are three teams you should watch out for in the World Cup:

#3 Egypt

Salah is crucial to Egypt's World Cup prospects.
Salah's supporting cast is as important as him for Egypt's World Cup prospects

There is one obvious reason why Egypt could be considered a potential threat in the World Cup in Russia. A national hero and footballing icon has the chance to enter a state of immortality. Although Mohamed Salah injured his shoulder in the Champions League final, he has been included in the Pharaohs’ 23-man squad. The Liverpool superstar will miss Egypt's opening group game against Uruguay, but will likely play a part in the games against Russia and Saudi Arabia.

This is a similar situation to Luis Suarez in 2014. After an excellent season for Liverpool, he suffered an injury which looked like it would ruin his World Cup ambitions. Suarez missed Uruguay's first game in Brazil against Costa Rica but returned with a bang, scoring a brace against England to save his country from certain elimination. Salah could make a similar impact for Egypt when he returns for the last two games. His brilliance helped to propel Liverpool to the Champions League final and with the expectations of an entire nation on his shoulders, he is sure to relish the pressure.

Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990, so this group of players will want to make the most of this opportunity as it may or may not happen again for a while. Their captain is the 45-year-old goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary. He could set a record for the oldest ever player to play at the World Cup, and this will be his first one. If Egypt’s supporting cast can manage to rise to the astonishingly high-level Salah has been playing at this season, they could possibly surprise a few people. However, it is a tough ask as they will likely have to fight the hosts, Russia, for a place in the knockouts

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