Football fans all over the globe will look on in anticipation as today, at 3:00pm GMT, the draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is made.
Gareth Southgate and his England squad are among those hoping to go deep into next summer’s competition, but to do that they will no doubt have to overcome some serious tests. We at Football Whispers have taken a look at some of the dark horses who could pose a threat.
Portugal may have won Euro 2016, but few see them as serious contenders for the upcoming World Cup. Their stars, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, are reaching the latter stages of their careers, but youngsters such as Manchester City winger Bernardo Silva could help them cause a stir.
Next summer could be the last stand for many of Croatia’s stars. Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Perišić are all in their late 20s or early 30s, so they will want to make the most of this tournament. With a quality squad full of hunger, they could make it to the latter stages.
Having topped a tough qualifying group that also included Austria, Wales and the Republic of Ireland, Serbia earned their place at next summer’s finals the hard way. They could surprise many given their fourth-seed status.
Having shown their quality in a 4-2 friendly win over Argentine, Nigeria are an exciting young team whose pace and skill could lead them to the late rounds in Russia. Premier League fans will be aware of their talent, with Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses, Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi and Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho in their squad.
Another African nation capable of surprising at the 2018 World Cup is Egypt. With in-form Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah leading the line, they have the ability to score against anyone.
To learn more about these teams and why they could do well next summer, watch our video above.