A dark horse is a team lower down in the World Cup Outright Winner Betting that is being tipped to do well. Sometimes these dark horses defy their odds and enjoy a deep run. Who can forget Cameroon in 1990, Turkey and South Korea’s runs to the semi-finals in 2002 and Costa Rica upsetting Italy, Uruguay and England to top their group in 2014?
The Qatar World Cup is like no other in that it is played in the middle of a season. It feels like the type of tournament where an underdog could surprise everyone. But who are the dark horses at the 2022 World Cup? At BetVictor, we looked at our Football Odds and picked four teams to watch out for.
FIFA World Ranking: 21
2018 World Cup Finish: Group Stage
Our first World Cup dark horse to keep an eye on in 2022 is Serbia. Under manager Dragan Stojković they enjoyed a fantastic qualifying campaign, topping their group ahead of Euro 2016 champions Portugal with six wins and two draws from eight matches. Since qualifying, they have continued to rack up impressive results, beating Hungary, Sweden and Norway away from home in 2022.
The Eagles have a wealth of talent within their squad, particularly in the forward areas. Aleksandar Mitrović has 50 goals in 76 appearances and is his country’s all-time leading scorer, while Luka Jović and Dušan Vlahović ably support him. Add to that quality midfielders like Dušan Tadić, Filip Kostić and Sergej Milinković-Savić and Serbia certainly can go deep in Qatar. They can make a massive statement on matchday one when they take on tournament favourites Brazil.
Group Opponents: Brazil, Switzerland, Cameroon
FIFA World Ranking: 18
2018 World Cup Finish: Group Stage
Next is Senegal, who have already proven their pedigree in major international tournaments in 2021. The Lions of Teranga won the Africa Cup of Nations in February for the first time in their history, defeating Egypt in the final. They then secured World Cup qualification with another win over Mo Salah and co and could be a side to watch in Qatar.
They are led by Aliou Cissé, who was part of the Senegalese side that made the quarter-finals on their World Cup debut in 2002. He will try and recreate that spirit ten years on, and he has a squad that can compete. Édouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gueye form a solid spine, while Sadio Mané gives them star quality at the top end of the pitch. The Bayern Munich forward has 33 goals and 20 assists in 92 caps and can cause opposition defences all sorts of problems in Qatar. No African nation has ever lifted the World Cup. Could Senegal be the first to do it?
Group Opponents: Qatar, Ecuador, Netherlands
FIFA World Ranking: 44
2018 World Cup Finish: Did Not Qualify
Another World Cup underdog sitting in Group A is Ecuador. The South Americans have something of a golden generation of young players on their hands, including Brighton duo Pervis Estupiñán and Moisés Caicedo and Bayer Leverkusen’s Piero Hincapié. They also have an experienced striker in Enner Valencia, who has 35 goals in 74 caps.
Recent results have been strong for La Tri. They have not conceded a single goal in their last five fixtures and held Argentina and Brazil to draws towards the end of qualifying. That shows that they are difficult to beat, which is always a good trait to have at a major tournament. Gustavo Alfaro’s side kick-off the competition against Qatar and are third favourites to qualify from their group, priced at 11/8.
Group Opponents: Qatar, Senegal, Netherlands
FIFA World Ranking: 10
2018 World Cup Finish: Round of 16
Perhaps a more obvious choice, but with odds of 33/1 to win the World Cup outright, Denmark still feel like dark horses going into Qatar. The Danes were outstanding at Euro 2020, going all the way to the semi-finals before suffering an extra-time defeat against England. They continued their strong form into World Cup qualifying, winning nine of their ten matches, scoring 30 goals and conceding just three.
Kasper Hjulmand has a talented pool of players, including Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Joakim Mæhle and Kasper Schmeichel. Additionally, Christian Eriksen is back in the fold after returning to Football following his cardiac arrest in 2021. The Manchester United man remains the key man for De Rød-Hvide. He has 39 goals and 26 assists in 117 caps and announced his return to international Football with strikes against the Netherlands and Serbia earlier in 2022. Can he help Denmark better the quarter-final finish they achieved in 1998?
Group Opponents: France, Australia, Tunisia
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All odds are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.