Three nations who underperformed at this year’s World Cup
With the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar well underway, there have been some notable absentees from the group stages onwards — with several of the world’s biggest nations suffering shock exits in the opening round after failing to get out of the blocks in the Middle East.
Whatever the reasons for their early flights home, there can be no excuses for some of the below par performances of the top-ranked sides, some who were tipped to go far with those placing World Cup bets. With that said, let’s take a closer look at three nations that underperformed in Qatar.
Branded dark horses by most media outlets ahead of the tournament, many Danes were actually offended as they felt they deserved more respect after reaching the semi-final of Euro 2020 18 months ago and beating defending world champions France home and away in their recent Nations League campaign.
However, Denmark — the 10 th best team in the world according to the FIFA rankings — have been sent home with their tails between their legs after embarrassingly finishing bottom of Group D without a win.
Expected to compete with Les Bleus for the top spots, the Red and Whites drew with Tunisia in round one before suffering a 2-1 defeat to France. They couldn’t even spare their blushes against Australia, losing 1-0 to the Socceroos as they progressed to the round of 16 for just the second time ever.
It was well documented that this would be Belgium’s Golden Generation’s last chance to do anything of note before they start to go their separate ways, but it was never going to be for the Reds Devils — as reported rifts in the dressing room and a lack of belief from key players like Kevin De Bruyne, who said the side were ‘too old’ to compete in Qatar, became clear.
Still, when the world no.2 ranked side beat Canada (albeit unconvincingly) 1-0 in their opening game of Group F, they would have expected to progress. However, a 2-0 defeat to Morocco left them needing a win against Croatia in their final game — which ended 0-0 as Romelu Lukaku missed a bucket load of chances.
Roberto Martinez resigned from his post immediately after the game, but you have to question the side’s mettle and why a manager of his caliber was in charge of this potentially great group of players for so long.
Another European powerhouse to exit in the group stages, Germany were pitted in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside continental rivals Spain, as well as Costa Rica and Japan, but were still expected to progress with nothing more to worry about than a battle for first with La Roja.
However, it was the Samurai Blue who caused a stir to top Group E — beating both Germany and Spain 2-1 either side of a disappointing loss to Costa Rica. With a 1-1 draw to Luis Enrique’s side in the second round of fixtures, DFB-Team ideally needed to beat the Central Americans and Spain to dispatch of Japan.
Germany did their bit, winning 4-2 after going 2-1 down, but Spain suffered a loss to the Asian outfit as La Roja’s performances fell below the bar of expectation since that 7-0 win over Costa Rica and Hansi Flick’s men were sent home.