Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in action

FIFA World Cup 2022: The dark horses to keep an eye out for

Who remembers Turkey at Euro 2020?

In a Grand National of dark horses, Burak Yilmaz and co collapsed before the first hurdle, highlighting just how wrong pre-tournament predictions can be.

But we cannot stop making them.

Ahead of Qatar 2022, here are three dark horses who can follow in a great World Cup tradition, from Croatia in 2018 to Germany’s shock 1954 win.


The casual’s dark horse, you can expect to see at least one neck-bearded, flat-capped hipster leaning over their Madri and whispering, “I tell you what, Denmark are my shout for this tournament.”

Semi-finalists at Euro 2020, tenth in FIFA’s world rankings and fresh from beating France home and away in the Nations League, it is hard to argue that Denmark’s silver generation are just dark horses.

Still managed by Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark can rely on stalwarts Christian Eriksen, Simon Kjaer and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, while youngsters Andreas Skov Olsen and Jesper Lindstrøm inject exciting new blood into an already brilliant side.

Qatar 2022’s Black Beauty, Denmark are experienced, cohesive and jam-packed with talent.

The land of Hans Christian Andersen may have one fairy tale still to write.


Can Germany, four-time World Cup winners, ever be dark horses?

This is perhaps the closest a “Nationalmannschaft” has come to that epithet since the 1954 Miracle of Bern and certainly since 2006.

Hansi Flick’s side come into this tournament in a similar situation to England in 2018, unburdened by the usual pressure after their group stage collapse in Russia.

Yet in Jamal Musiala, Nico Schlotterbeck and Karim Adeyemi, Germany possess almost unparalleled young talent, alongside modern titans like Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer and Serge Gnabry.

Well-poised to make it to the knockouts in a group with Japan and Costa Rica, Germany are blessed with the players and manager to make a subtle surge for glory.


Alongside Croatia, Uruguay are the natural dark horse at every World Cup.

Despite a population of less than 3.5million, they have won two previous tournaments and made the semi-final as recently as 2010.

Renowned for their attacking greats of late, Uruguay have conceded just two goals this calendar year.

They have an embarrassment of centre-backs at their disposal, especially Barcelona youngster Ronald Araujo.

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani still lead the line for Diego Alonso’s side, now supported by the chaotic forces of Darwin Nunez and Federico Valverde.

As they have so often before, Uruguay could affirm their role as the football establishment’s great disruptors in Qatar.

Featured image: Steindy via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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