World Cup Underdogs – 2022

The group stage has seen some wild results to start the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. While there hasn’t been much of a change at the top of the favorites to bring home the trophy, some teams may be capable of making deeper runs than we thought possible.

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Group play thus far has seen Saudi Arabia topple Lionel Messi and Argentina, while Japan was able to score a win over Germany. While there are still plenty of games left to play, here’s an eye on some teams that could play spoiler as the tournament gets into its later stages.

Ecuador

Qualifying for the World Cup out of CONMEBOL, which doesn’t feature many countries but includes tournament staples Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, was no picnic for Ecuador. La Tri has shown a strong knack for attacking in its first two matches.

Ecuador scored two first half goals to bury Qatar, spoiling the home country’s first-ever World Cup match. Enner Valencia has scored all four of La Tri’s goals during this World Cup campaign. More importantly than how well Ecuador has played, La Tri has a good draw when it gets out of Group A.

Should Ecuador finish second behind the Netherlands, La Tri would likely draw the United States or Iran in the first round of the knockout stage. While Ecuador isn’t a serious threat to win at +10000, betting La Tri to reach the quarterfinals looks like a plausible wager.

United States

The Stars and Stripes impressed against England, but weren’t able to find a way to grab all three points with a win. However, what the United States proved is that its young players aren’t intimidated by having the attention of the world on them. While the Americans will need to beat a tough Iran side to get out of Group B, many are impressed the United States are in this position.

The Americans have the second-youngest roster among all teams in the World Cup this year. What the United States demonstrated in a 0-0 draw against England is that the American press can work against the top European teams. A championship is still out of this team’s reach, but they could make teams sweat in the knockout rounds. The United State is +20000 to win the tournament outright.

Japan

The Japanese soccer team scored one of the biggest shockers of early group play by scoring two goals in the final 15 minutes to stun Germany 2-1. In a group featuring two European heavyweight — including Spain, which pasted Costa Rica 7-0 in its opener — scoring such a victory put Samurai Blue in a good position.

Should Japan score a win over Costa Rica, the Samurai Blue will almost assured of moving on to the next round. Japan, which is +1400 to qualify, is in a great position to crash the round of 16 and make some of the top teams sweat.

Mexico

El Tri has been CONCACAF’s most consistent team for along time. Mexico has made the Round of 16 in every World Cup since 1994. Had El Tri not been banned from 1990 tournament, it likely would have been even longer as the Mexicans reached the quarterfinals in 1986.

Mexico hasn’t seemed to be its usual self recent. El Tri struggled in qualifying and don’t quite seem to have the same juice on its attack. Mexico didn’t score in its opener against Poland, but were able to keep them off the scoresheet as well.

El Tri will threaten any team that doesn’t take them seriously should they get through to the knockout rounds. While the Round of 16 has been Mexico’s nightmare round for nearly 30 years, this could be the year Mexico breaks through, when few expect them to.