By Jack Hamrick
With the World Cup less than one month away, soccer fans and sports fanatics are feeling the excitement. Being the most watched sporting event in the world, this years World Cup, hopefully, will be no disappointment. Germany and Brazil come in as favorites at 9-2 and 5-1, respectively, but lets look at some underdogs. The World Cup has shown us some of the greatest upsets in sports history; can it produce another Cinderella tale?
Probably my favorite team in the World Cup this year, England has finally gotten the respect they deserve. Although they have the seventh-best odds, England, to me, is very underrated and unappreciated. With talent spilling out, including Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker, and Dele Alli, England’s star power isn’t a question. Usually, the problem with teams in the World Cup is chemistry, but a lot of these players also play club with their fellow England teammates. Not a big sleeper, but if anyone’s looking for a safe yet different bet, England’s a team that could make a deep run.
Lead by premier goal scorers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay has quite the attacking front 2. Uruguay is also a very balanced team, and being able to quickly turn on the counter attack could be vital. The reason I like this bet is because of their draw, a particularly weak group. Uruguay’s easy route to the elimination stage should be enough for the players to adapt, as well as rest until the winner take all games.
In my mind, Croatia is the most underrated team in the playing field. Their talent level alone, with Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, and Mario Mandzukic could make them a top contender. Considering they have a tough draw, being in the same group as Argentina, Croatia will have one of the harder trips out of the group stage. Overlooked for years and years, Coatia finally has a team that could, and should, surprise soccer fans around the world.
If you’re looking for the ambitious bet, this is where you want to pay attention. Egypt is a sleeper for 2 reasons and 2 reasons only: 1.) they have a weak group, and 2.) Mo Salah. The golden boot winner and possible (maybe even probable) Ballon d’or winner is absolutely lighting up the scoreboard this year at the biggest stage, playing for Liverpool. One of the most electrifying players I’ve ever watched play, Salah just makes everyone around him better. Although, Salah’s injury, with no date of return, could ruin Egypt’s improbable run. Already ruled out for the Uruguay game, Egypt is hoping to have their star back for game two. The Egyptian has lead Liverpool to the Champions League final; can he lead Egypt all the way to the World Cup final?
This year’s World Cup has plenty of toss ups and smaller teams could smell blood in the water from powerhouse teams. Hopefully we’ll see plenty of surprises and upsets, making Russia 2018 one for the history books.