The spots for next summer’s World Cup in Russia are almost filled as only the playoffs are left. The typical big boys Brazil, France, and Germany are favorites to hoist the trophy, but who could possibly make a surprise run at it? Let’s take a look.
Returning to the world stage for the first time in eleven years, many are calling this the greatest Polish team of all time. Star man Robert Lewandowski led Poland with 16 goals and even led all players in qualifying. With a player of his ability spear heading the Polish attack, they have the ability to be dangerous and if Arkadiusz Milik is able to be healthy by next summer, their attack becomes even more lethal. Łukasz Piszczek and Kamil Glik are both experienced defenders and rocks at the back of this Polish defence. Both Piotr Zieliński and Karol Linetty inject some youth into this team and have shown how dangerous they can be in the Italian top division. With a good mixture of youth and experience, this “golden generation” of Polish football could turn some heads in Russia next summer.
The surprise of the Euros in France last summer will be looking to make another shock in Russia next summer. They have no problem being the underdog and will relish the opportunity in their first ever World Cup. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, depending on his health, will be crucial to this Iceland side if they want any chance at making it through to the knockout rounds. The experience gained at last summer’s Euros will pay dividends for this Iceland squad and they will look to build on their impressive campaign last summer.
After their disappointing 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 campaigns, Spain look revamped and ready for next summer. With Vincent del Bosque out the door and Julen Lopetugui in, this Spanish team looks much more dangerous than in recent years. The utilisation of Isco in the false nine role has worked tremendously for them so far, especially in their 3-0 drubbing of Italy. With Isco at top form right now for Real Madrid, he might even make a run for the best player in Russia next summer. David de Gea has established himself in goal and as one of the best in the world, and it helps when he’ll have the experience of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in front of him and Sergio Busquets sitting in front of them. Spain may have one of the most complete squads going into the tournament. This Spanish team may fly under the radar going into next summer, but don’t underestimate them to be the ones hoisting the trophy in July.
Star man James Rodriguez led an experienced Columbia side into Brazil in 2014 and stole the show. Rodriguez scored six goals and led Columbia to the quarterfinals but were narrowly beaten by the hosts Brazil. Four years later, they have much more experience and a healthy Falcao leading the line, which could make all the difference. James Rodriguez will certainly be the focal point of this Columbian side but they have plenty of other top talents. Young centre back Davinson Sanchez, who moved to Tottenham in the summer, has only made five appearances for Columbia, but if he continues the form he’s shown in the Premier League he’ll be a lock for a starting spot in Russia. Columbia’s outing in 2014 was a surprise, but don’t be so surprised if they are torching the Russian nets next summer on their way to the knockout round.
Cody Mefferd (@MartialSpice)
Which outsider are you backing to lift the trophy next summer? Let us know in the comments below!
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