Image credits – Iceland
Football is a sport loved by millions not only because of the beauty of the game but also because of the romantic which the game sometimes presents. What do we mean with romantic? Every neutral fan loves to see an outsider or a debutant to win against its greater and much more experienced opponent. The number of times during the World Cups in which we had seen small nations doing something great is countless. We had seen miracles from teams like Costa Rica (1/4 Finalist), Ukraine (1/4 Finalist), Romania (1/4 Finalist), Senegal (1/4 Finalist), Cameroon (1/4 Finalist), North Korea (1/4 Finalist), Northern Ireland (1/4 Finalist), Wales (1/4 Finalist), Cuba (1/4 Finalist), Bulgaria (4th place), Serbia (4th place), Turkey (3rd place), Croatia (3rd place) and many other successes of nations that are not among the world’s best when we speak about football. For this reason, we turn our focus to the debutants of the 2018 FIFA World Cup – Iceland & Panama.
Both countries are fairly small and in the same time, football cannot be counted as the absolute sports number 1 in the country. The fans of those nations won something that can be counted as equally well as the World Cup title (at least from their point of view). They received the chance to see their team playing in the biggest tournament in the world. Iceland became a bit more ‘’seriously taken’’ team after the UEFA Euro 2016 and for this reason, we do not think that their opponents in the group stage (Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria) will underestimate them. This was the biggest joker of the Europeans during the last big tournament in which they participated, now they will be no longer viewed as ‘’weak’’ debutants.
While all this is relevant for Iceland, the situation for the other debutant at the World Cup (Panama) is much different. No one expected to see Panama at the World Cup, especially counting the fact that instead of them we could have seen the USA as a participant from North America.
Panama does not have even one major star that plays for a good European club team and this makes them a total outsider. The lack of experience in such tournaments will even decrease the chances of the North Americans. Still, we do not think that Panama will be destroyed at the World Cup. They might not have chances against Belgium in their first game at the World Cup, but they could surprise England which always have problems with the so-called ‘’minions’’ and after that Panama could even think about the three points against Tunisia in the last match day of those group battles. Who knows, we might see some romance with vibes from Panama…