The World Cup is not traditionally the tournament for underdogs. The trophy has been lifted by just eight countries — and five of those have won multiple times. But there’s usually enough room for a few Cinderella stories to creep into the knockout phase: Bulgaria (1994), South Korea (2002) and Turkey (2002) were unexpected semifinalists, while Cameroon (1990), Ghana (2010) and Costa Rica (2014) crashed the quarterfinals. At least one country seems to do this every four years.We see three teams that could fit the bill this summer. Before the tournament, each of them had no greater than a 3 percent chance of winning it all, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model, but each has performed well so far and could make a strong run in the knockout rounds.Croatia3 percent chance pre-tournament to win it all, 7 percent nowAs we noted in our preview of Group D, Croatia is blessed with an abundance of central midfield talent, most notably Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona. Getting the pair ticking together was the most important challenge for manager Zlatko Dalic coming into Russia.The two started together as a double pivot in Croatia’s opening game against Nigeria, but the risk of playing two aging, attack-minded central midfielders is too great against teams with a potent counterattack — as Germany found out after fielding Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos together against Mexico. Dalic’s solution against better teams seems to be playing the pair in front of Marcelo Brozovic, who is comfortable taking care of the defensive duties, freeing up Modric and Rakitic to focus on the attack.In its second game, Croatia comfortably outclassed Argentina — which employed an extremely high press to avoid playing through Croatia’s midfield. The Argentine press allowed Modric and Rakitic to become the focal point of Croatia’s counterattacks, feeding the ball quickly into their wingers, Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic. Spain5.0 Belgium7.5 Source: Opta Sports Shots3.838 France5.0 Unlike other small teams, the Swiss press high and aggressively rather than waiting for their opposition to come to them: The team ranks second for possession regains in the attacking third of the pitch per game so far in Russia. Brazil7.0 Against Serbia, Switzerland came from behind dramatically to snatch a victory. The Swiss now have a 96 percent chance of making the round of 16, despite a controversy over political celebrations that threatened to embroil the team: Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, who each scored a goal against Serbia, made eagle gestures referring to their Albanian Kosovar heritage,1Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, and Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as a country. and team captain Stephan Lichtsteiner also made the gesture. Luckily for the Swiss, though, FIFA decided to fine rather than ban them.Switzerland has a style of play that could cause serious problems for bigger teams — and is in the strongest position it has been to reach a quarterfinal for the first time since 1954.Check out our latest World Cup predictions. Among attackers with a minimum of 800 minutesSource: Football Whispers Russia5.5 Goals0.653 Rank Assists0.3014 Argentina8.0 Denmark6.0 Successful dribbles2.3426 Serbia6.0 Offensive statistics per 90 minutes for Mexico’s Hirving Lozano with PSV in the Dutch Eredivisie, 2017-18 The terrifying pace of Lozano, who is rumored to be a target of Barcelona, is complemented well by the positioning and hold-up play of Javier Hernandez, with the two combining for goals against both Germany and South Korea. Carlos Vela, meanwhile, has a relatively free role in the attack, drifting into pockets of space to get the ball and take men on.If Mexico does manage to finish first in the group, it will probably have to play Switzerland, another team that has performed surprisingly well in Russia.Switzerland2 percent chance pre-tournament, 3 percent nowTwenty minutes into the opener against Brazil, when Philippe Coutinho scored a characteristically brilliant long-range goal for the Selecao, many had already written off Switzerland’s chances of getting anything from the game. But the underdogs rallied in the second half, grabbing an equalizer to frustrate the Brazilians and hold out for a crucial point. Switzerland7.5 Both Modric and Rakitic scored in a victory that crystallized Croatia’s position as an underdog to watch this summer. Croatia should get a relatively easy matchup against Denmark in the Round of 16 and would be a tough out for any team after that.MexicoLess than 1 percent chance pre-tournament, 1 percent nowMexico’s chances haven’t risen much, but that’s mainly because of how tight Group F is after Germany’s last-gasp winner against Sweden. Despite winning its first two matches, including beating the defending champions in the opener, El Tri has just a 72 percent of making it through the group right now, with its fate riding on the match with Sweden.If it does make it through, Mexico has a pesky combination of compact defensive structure and electric counterattacking ability that will cause any big opposition real problems. Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is looking like this World Cup’s breakout star, with a goal and an assist in his first two appearances — no surprise to those who saw him help PSV Eindhoven to a title this season in the Dutch Eredivisie. Possessions won per match in the attacking third of the field for 2018 World Cup teams, through June 24 England5.0 Open-play assists1.4523 teamPossessions Won
Kit Harrington aka Jon Snow in Game of ThronesFacebook/ Game of ThronesHBO’s Game of Thrones will stop airing in May 2019 and it will leave millions of fans in a dizzy asking for some more drama. Filming the last episodes were also not easy for the cast and crew of this acclaimed fantasy TV series. Kit Harington recently talked about his feelings and how he cried after reading the last pages of the script.Game of Thrones season eight entered into production a long time ago. Several stars of the show have talked about their feelings towards the end of it and how much they are going to miss playing their respective characters. As it turned out, Kit Harington was apparently the last person to read the end. He recently told Stephen Colbert on his show, The Late Show that he apparently was too lazy to read the script but when he did, he cried a lot.”We had a table read and I was the one person who hadn’t read the episodes,” Kit explained. “Everyone else had them like, three days before and read them and… I think I told everyone it was because I didn’t want to know what happened but I think it was just laziness that I didn’t read them.”Kit Harington further revealed that when he got to read the script, the showrunners were pretty excited to know his reactions. After reading Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6’s script, Kit, who plays Jon Snow, was pretty shocked and surprised for the change in the events.”And then I blubbed my eyes out. I cried. I cried, yeah,” he added.Kit Harington also talked about having a child and extending his family. He and his GoT co-star Rose Leslie got married last year. The couple met during season three and have been together ever since. While talking to The Sunday Telegraph’s Watch via DailyMail, Kit talked about his future family as his work with Game of Thrones is finally over. Actors Kit Harington and Rose Leslie attend the premiere of HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ season 7 at Walt Disney Concert Hall on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images”I met my wife in this show so, hopefully, it gave me my future family and my life from here on in.” Kit added: “It has changed my life completely. You could not ask for a better job than to be an actor in Game of Thrones.”Kit Harington will return as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones season 8 in April.