The World Cup Finals have become synonomous with shock results throughout the 92-year history of the competition.
Some of the world’s greatest names have been humbled in front of a worldwide audience as some the game’s lesser lights have taken their chance to shine. From the United States’ 1-0 win over Stanley Matthews’ England in 1950 to Jung-Hwan Ahn goal that gave South Korea a 2-1 win against Italy in 2002, there are always results that cause a major stir during the tournament.
But what about this year’s World Cup Finals? Which players could write their names alongside the likes of Papa Bouba Diop, Joe Gaetjens and Pak Doo-Ik by scoring the goal that shocks a supposed contender and claims immortality for both individual and team? 3AddedMinutes picks out five possible shocks that lie in wait during the group stages in Qatar.
Group A: Senegal v Netherlands - Monday 21st November
Now, given recent news about Sadio Mane’s absence through injury, this one may seem a long shot - but Senegal still have more than enough talent in their squad to cause a shock against the Netherlands. The Lions of Teranga already have a famous tournament win to their name after a 1-0 triumph against France in 2002 and there is every chance their talented squad could cause a similar upset here.
With plenty of experience of facing top-level opposition, the likes of Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly will be key if they are to see off what looks a very capable Netherlands side managed by the vastly experienced Louis van Gaal.
Group E: Japan v Germany - Wednesday 23rd November
Japan’s form heading into the tournament has been mixed with wins against the United States and South Korea sitting alongside a draw with Ecuador and a recent friendly defeat against Canada. We can all expect the Germans to be at their clinical best with a squad packed with experience and knowhow in a major tournament - but the Japanese will provide plenty of threat.
The likes of Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo and former Liverpool star Takumi Minamino have plenty of experience playing against players in top leagues in Europe and they will be familiar with the intensity and strength of the Germans.
Group B: USA v England - Friday 25th November
There is just something about this England side - for all of their exciting talent and experience - that makes you feel they have an unexpected result in them. Defensively, there look vulnerable, and the United States have more than enough talent to punish any shortfalls in concentration and attitude.
There are familar names across the US squad, with the likes of AC Milan defender Sergino Dest, Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna and Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie all producing high quality performances in their respective leagues over the last few years. This one feels like a real banana skin for Gareth Southgate and his players. Brace yourself for the endless repeats of that Rob Green blunder in 2010 - Jordan Pickford, don’t let it happen again!
Group D: Denmark v France - Saturday 26th November
There is no doubt this France squad sit alongside Argentina and Brazil as the major contenders to win the tournament. The star names roll off the tongue with Kylian Mbappe in particular providing considerable threat to even the most capable of opposition. Throw in young talent like Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni and there is a potent mix in this Les Bleus squad. Even With Karim Benzema out injured, they’ve more than enough firepower in reserve to cover his absence.
But Denmark are no mugs - Euro 2020 semi-finalists, we must remember - and they are disciplined at the back with a defence well controlled by the likes of Kasper Schmeichel, Andreas Christensen and Joachim Andersen. In midfield they have the class of Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney. There shortfall may well come in the final third but if they can create chances and stay disciplined, you just never know!
Group H: South Korea v Portugal - Friday 2nd December
Twenty years have passed since South Korea stunned Italy and created one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history and it is four years since Son Heung-Min scored in a 2-0 win that ended holders Germany’s hopes of retaining their title in Russia. What chance of adding Portugal to their list of scalps?
Of course, they will take on a Portugal squad brimming with talent and will have to contain Cristiano Ronaldo in what is sure to be his final international tournament. But South Korea are a genuine threat and they will surely relish the opportunity to bring an end to the international career of one of the greatest players of the modern era.