With the World Cup in progress, here are the title favourites who have disappointed.
One of the reasons which makes football as exciting as it appears is the sport’s unpredictability. Fair to say, the FIFA World Cup 2018 has been one such enthralling tournament; it has had a bunch of eye-openers in store for the fans right since day 1.
Predictions are much like mandatory norms in every sport, and football is no different. As such, many of you might have your guesses as to who will lift the most coveted trophy on 15th July 2018.
However, I am sure many of you might’ve been disappointed over the performances of certain teams who were expected to do better. On that note, here are 3 nations who have performed way below the expectations of the fans.
France have been touted as the favourites by a large number of fans to lift the World Cup in Russia this summer. And you can’t blame them, given the insane squad depth and big-name players Les Blues boast in their ranks.
Yet, it’s fair to say that France has been far from matching the expectations, given their performances in the first two group stage games.
When you have one of the most potent attacking line-up including Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Nabil Fekir, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud and Florian Thauvin, a tally of just 3 goals in 2 games seems almost negligible to those who expect the nation to win the tournament.
True, those goals have won them a qualification to the round of 16, but the style of play has been unsatisfactory. France haven’t dominated as much as they were expected to; they have maintained an average of just 50.4 percent possession in their first 2 games.
If they dream of bringing the trophy home, Didier Deschamps’ men definitely need to up the ante as the competition advances towards the next stage.
It’s always exhilarating to see underdogs beating favourites in dramatic fashion. As much as the winners receive well-deserved appreciation in such cases, a mountain of criticism, sometimes more than expected, is handed to the losers.
Germany’s shock defeat at the hands of Mexico is one such example. Being the title defenders and one of the top 3 contenders to win the World Cup, Joachim Low’s men succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game of the competition.
It was rather jaw-dropping to see how they were overrun by Mexico in the middle of the park, falling prey to the latter’s slick counter-attacks.
Next, they beat Sweden, courtesy to a last-minute Toni Kroos curler which will definitely go down as one of the greatest goals of all time in the competition.
However, that doesn’t cloak the fact that Die Mannschaft were dragged by the Swedes till the last minute to complete a comeback victory. Highly unconvincing, isn’t it?
Clinging on to the results of the last group stage game in order to secure qualification to the next round doesn’t exactly seem to be the characteristic of the defending champions and title favourites, does it?
Argentina have been the most disastrous team so far, period. When you look at their mediocre squad, no one in their right mind would brand them as favourites. But having a demigod, nay, the god himself, in your ranks does put you amongst the contenders for the title.
However, the strain of having Lionel Messi’s name on the team-sheet seems to be far more than what La Albiceleste can actually handle.
No doubt the Barca forward has been responsible for his country’s plight, following his penalty miss against Ireland and failure to score a goal in the competition.
However, the team’s dependency on their star man coupled with some eye-raising tactical decisions by coach Jorge Sampaoli has done far more damage to the country’s hopes of winning a third World Cup.
The Argentinians have found themselves under massive pressure after a draw against Iceland and a horrible 3-0 loss against Croatia. With just a point in the bag, the Albiceleste are light years away from securing a place in the round of 16.
If they wish to avoid the humiliation of a group stage exit, Lionel Messi and co will need to thrash Nigeria in their final fixture.