Does 2018 FIFA World Cup Belong To The Underdogs?
The last few days have gripped the world with football fever, as the 2018 edition of the Soccer World Cup is currently underway in Russia. However, the group matches are proving to be anything but predictable. With dominating teams like Germany and Argentina having a hard time, can 2018 FIFA World Cup belong to the underdogs?
Yesterday the defending champion Germany faced an unprecedented defeat at hands of team Mexico. This upset didn’t just shock Deutschland supporters but the entire world. Then there was first timer Iceland, who drew a match with two-time world cup winner Argentina, despite the latter having Lionel Messi on its side. While we may continue to root for our favourite teams, these emerging teams demand our attention.
No matter who wins, if group matches are anything to go by, then it seems like the 2018 World Cup belongs to the underdogs.
As per a report in The Guardian, Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations said that highly sensitive earthquake sensors registered tremors at two sites in Mexico City, when Mexico scored the goal which would give them victory over the German team. This showcases how unprecedented yet glorious moment it was for Mexican football fans.
A similar sense of happiness spread over Serbian supporters as their team, which had failed to qualify for last three World Cups, managed to defeat previous tournament’s quarter-finalists Costa Rica. Most Groups in FIFA tournament have dominating teams which all of us know will cruise to the next round. From Brazil, England, Germany to Spain and Argentina. These are the favourite football teams which seem to be indomitable specifically at the group match level.
So if Mexico, Iceland, Egypt or Panama – touted to being major game changers in upcoming matches, rustle up the groups and make the qualification rounds tense and exciting, then they have our money and hearts because this disruption means good news for both FIFA and football fans.
The surprisingly good performance of these underdog teams will increase the intrigue around the sport in non football playing nations.
One reason why football has not achieved a breakthrough appeal in continents like Asia, is the stagnancy in teams which rule the game. It is kind of monotonous when winners and qualifiers emerge from the same pool of dominating countries. What the game needs is massive disruption from emerging nations. This will make FIFA a more interesting tournament and add to its global appeal. It will give nations like India a hope that even they can make a cut in the World Cup.
With Panama playing Belgium today and Morocco playing two big teams (Spain and Portugal) in coming days, the group matches still hold a lot of prospect for upheavals. Who knows maybe teams of emerging football nations may not just end up in next round, they may knock out a giant or two from the tournament as well. Let’s root for them while hoping that Team India will join the league of the underdogs by 2026.
Picture Credit: sport-locker.net
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.