Now Reading
What The 2022 FIFA World Cup Teaches Us About The Underdog

What The 2022 FIFA World Cup Teaches Us About The Underdog

As major sporting events tend to, the 2022 FIFA World Cup games have yielded a grand showing of dazzling talent and fierce competition. There is a palpable sense that any outcome is possible when all the players in the park genuinely believe in their ability to win, without deference to the status and calibre of their opponent. It is, of course, part of what makes the game so beautiful to watch. The odds may be obvious to football enthusiasts, but the possibilities are audaciously endless. No prospect – no matter how seemingly trivial – is small enough to ignore. 

It is good to see underdogs assert themselves unapologetically in the quest for the ultimate prize. Characteristically, the games – now in the semi-final stage – have delivered a few spectacular upsets. This article delves into some rather unlikely outcomes to surface hidden insights we might glean from a closer look. 

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit.

Underrated Doesn’t Mean Unqualified

An obvious starting point relates to how we assess prospective outcomes between competitors. We all know the names of great footballing nations, and when they’re up against a lesser-rated team it almost feels like a foregone conclusion. We revert to a mental ranking algorithm that spits out a likely outcome we naturally accept as true, without much forethought. 

But let’s stop for a moment and think about it from the viewpoint of the underdog. They haven’t just shown up to the games uninvited. They’ve earned their spot in the big league, beating the competition to it. They too can compete at the highest level, and that says a lot about their abilities. Merely saying it is not enough; Give them a chance and they’ll gladly prove it to us. 

This point brings to mind the group-stage matchup between Saudi Arabia and Argentina. Coming into the games, Saudi Arabia was ranked 51, a far cry from Argentina’s position close to the top at number 3. Despite Argentina’s early lead from the spot, the Saudis showed grit and class to level the playing field early in the second half. A one-all outcome would have been an impressive feat for the underdogs, but the Saudis had other plans, stealing the lead through a sensational strike in the 53rd minute of the game, and sending Lusail Stadium into ruptures.  

And that’s how it ended, 2 – 1 to Saudi Arabia. A stunning upset, ending Argentina’s 36-game unbeaten run. Remarkably, the Saudi team achieved this feat with only 30% of the ball possession. They only needed half a chance to make a point.

The win is always there for the taking, despite the odds. 

This leads neatly to our next point. 

Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee Of Future Performance

Without offending the bookmakers, this discourse forces us to consider the role of statistics in informing our expectations. Past performance is indeed the best indicator of future performance. But that has a lot to do with circumstances, the status quo if you will, remaining unchanged.

The World Cup is teaching us a different lesson: It doesn’t take much to shake things up. And in a dynamic environment, where anything could happen, the very odds some would swear by can prove incredibly pliable. 

I enjoyed watching the Cameroonian outfit render this message in their fixture with Brazil – the best-ranked team coming into the games. Both teams had met 6 times prior, resulting in 5 losses for Cameroon. As stats go, Brazil scored 12 times against Cameroon in previous encounters, conceding only 3. To simplify that, for every goal Cameroon scored against Brazil, they let in 4.  

That’s the kind of picture – and prospect – we get from tallying up the stats. But these teams met again in the group stages of the FIFA 2022 World Cup games. The outcome couldn’t have been further from the initial outlook. To be candid, both teams put in an impressive effort, creating numerous opportunities in a game that could easily have gone either way. In the end, it was a solitary goal by a Cameroonian forward in the 92nd minute that would separate the two sides. Leaping onto a right-wing cross, Vincent Abubakar’s sublime finishing touch put the odds, and all the history, squarely in the past. Almost as if to say “Things are different now.” 

The big idea here is that we can’t always look to the past and hope to see the future. We should leave room for surprises, pleasant or otherwise. 

One final thought remains. 

See Also

What We lack In Talent, We Can Make Up In Tenacity

This is easily the most important point to be made here. It’s at the heart of what makes the underdog such a formidable force. This notion lays bare the truth that tenacity and resolve can indeed go the distance. So if it’s all you have, it may well be all you need!

As noted, the 2022 FIFA World Cup games have already given us many special moments to feast our eyes on, and cherish. The story of Morocco’s Atlas Lions is one for the books. Dubbed the Moroccan marvel, their world cup campaign is still going strong. 

Coming into the games, Morocco (like Cameron) didn’t have history on their side. They’ve featured at the world cup 4 times, exiting in the group stage on three occasions, and at the round of 16 once. But The Atlas Lions have played their game with spirited resolve, making history and dazzling spectators in the process. While cruising into the semi-finals, team Morocco have made light of football heavyweights like Spain, Belgium and most notably Portugal, setting up a decidedly captivating semi-final with yet another heavyweight. 

Ranked number 4 coming into the games, the Blues, as the French football team is colloquially known, are no pushover. The fixture is set for 15 December. Will the poise and passion of The Atlas Lions deliver the outcome we’re all hoping for with bated breaths? It remains to be seen. This truly is the stuff of dreams, the very thing we watch movies to catch a glimpse of. Only this is real!

We’ve all heard the Bible story of David and Goliath. These examples are updated versions of the same idea that underdogs can – and often do – make a big impact. Of course, the idea is not unique to the FIFA World Cup games or even the sporting arena. Businesses, governments, academics and artists – any realm in which distinction is sought after – can exemplify it uniquely. 

I’ve always been a supporter of the underdog. I admire their resolve and how they shake things up. There’s much to learn from observing how they approach their biggest challenges like small fry. And when they succeed, they inspire us to dream big, and dream again. 

Viva Morocco!

© 2024 The Finance Chapter. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top