- The 2018 FIFA World Cup is the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men's national teams
- From Iran to Iceland, Peru to Panama, meet the underdogs out to bite the big boys
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is finally here, and we gear up towards the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
By now, many persons have already chosen their favourite teams tipped to lift the trophy. Definitely either of Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina and Spain will be in the picks of many soccer fans and pundits.
However, there are a couple of promising teams at this year’s World Cup that could pull surprises at the tournament.
Some countries qualified for the Mundial as underdogs, but will look to use that tag as an advantage to go far in the tournament.
Below we take a look at 5 national teams that could cause huge surprises at Russia 2018:
The Peruvian national team qualified for this year’s World Cup after proving their prowess in the tough South America qualifying zone.
The country managed to hold off heavyweights like Uruguay, Argentina and Columbia before defeating New Zealand in the playoffs to make it to Russia.
Paired in Group C with France, Australia and Denmark, Peru stands a big chance of progressing to the next stage of the competition.
They may be underdogs, but led by influential captain Paolo Guerrero, the team could surprise many in Russia.
Serbia have been mentioned as also-runs in the 2018 World Cup, but the European nation has all the tools to make an impact in Russia.
Boasting influential attacking players like Ivan Perisic, Mario Manzukic and the highly-rated Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, the country would cause a stir in the tournament.
Indeed, the Serbia midfield is one of the best representing at the World Cup, with the presence of Nemanja Matic good enough to match any other midfield pairing.
They might be placed in a tough group containing Brazil, Costa Rica and Switzerland, but Serbia could definitely be the surprise package.
Another small nation that could over-perform at the World Cup is Iceland. The 300,000-populated country qualified to the tournament at the expense of three-time World Cup finalists Netherlands.
Having announced themselves at Euro 2016 after dumping England out in the round of 16 stage, Iceland have only grown from strength to strength.
Drawn in Group D with Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia, the country faces an uphill task to qualify to the next round.
However, having done it against England two years ago, Iceland may just spring another surprise in Russia.
Egypt’s chances at the World Cup have been downplayed by many since the draw for the tournament was made towards the end of last year.
The North African nation will also miss the services of Mohamed Salah for their opening game of the tournament against Uruguay, due to a shoulder injury picked up by the Liverpool star during the Champions League final.
However, the 26-year-old will be back for games against hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia. This is a fairly even group which the Pharaohs could fight their way through.
Among the five African countries that qualified for the World Cup, Senegal and Nigeria have been tipped as the continent’s best hopes, however, Egypt could spring that surprise.
Sweden qualified for the 2018 World Cup as one of the most impressive sides in Europe.
The country gained qualification in style despite the retirement of the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And, in truth, Sweden are primed to surprise many in Russia.
Paired in Group F with Germany, South Korea and Mexico, the Europeans have a good chance of making progression.
Aside defending world champions Germany, Sweden should be able to record favourable results against the other teams.
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