Between now and June 2014 when the World Cup gets started, you will hear a lot of talk about teams who are dark horses. Already a number of people have come out and stated Colombia and Belgium are dark horses in Brazil. Frankly, mentioning both those teams as such is incorrect and missing the point.
You cannot label Colombia and or Belgium as a dark horse for the 2014 World Cup for a couple of reasons. Firstly, both countries are going to be seeded when the World Cup draw is held on December 6. This means that both will be expected to reach the quarterfinals of the competition — whether or not they deserve to is a different story.
The other reason that they aren’t dark horse teams is the simple fact that they have reached the point where everyone is giving them that label. They’re like that band whom you really like and once they reach a certain level of radio play, they are no longer an underground group.
When I think about a dark horse team at a World Cup, I automatically think about Uruguay and Ghana in 2010, Germany in 2002 and Croatia in 1998. Colombia and Belgium do not fit the description like the teams I just mentioned. You may be asking then, who do I think fits the description?
That team is Chile. After a bad start to CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying under Claudio Borghi, Chile turned to another Argentine in Jorge Sampaoli to turn around its fortunes, which he did as he helped Chile finish third and gain automatic qualification.
Chile qualifies as a dark horse when you look at a couple of other key factors. First and foremost, let’s look at the betting odds. In most sportsbooks, Chile is listed at 50/1 to win the World Cup — that’s in line for what one would consider to be a dark horse team, especially when compared to Colombia whose odds are 20/1 and Belgium, who are 14/1 favorites to win the World Cup.
Another reason for Chile fitting the bill is their team makeup. While Chile do not have that one or two players whom are standout, world-class players, they have several players who are on a level below, as well as having a number of quality and talented players combine to make a very strong and dangerous team.
Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are not world-class talent, but players like Eduardo Vargas, Matias Fernandez and Jorge Valdivia help add to a team that can take down on of the big boys in any given game.