Dark Horses[edit | edit source]
Countries like Croatia, Portugal and the Czech Republic can be labelled 'dark horses' ahead of major international tournaments. They impress in the group stage before fizzling out in the knockout phase.
Ahead of a big event such as a World Cup or European Championship it is traditional for at least one pundit, often Mark Lawrenson, to back an unlikely side to lift the silverware.
The 'expert' in question will cover himself against looking like an idiot by also backing Brazil or Germany before suggesting that the team in question 'could surprise a few people'.
Almost invariably, these second-tier sides such as Croatia play some brilliant football in their first few games but lack consistency. Eventually they fall short and the expert will assert that their conquerors 'knew too much for them'.