The 2022 World Cup has come and gone, just like it does every 4 years. However, this World Cup will go down as one of the top World Cups in history.
The 2022 tournament in Qatar brought tons of surprises, and wrapped up with the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) completing his trophy collection and accomplishing the most decorated career possible in the sport of football(or soccer).
If you don’t know much about the World Cup, don’t worry, I’ll give a brief explanation real quick. It is played between the national teams of the qualifying country. To qualify for the tournament, teams need to be successful in the World Cup Qualifiers or be the host country. The tournament starts in the Group Stage, where there are 8 groups of 4 countries, and after each team plays 3 matches (against the 3 other teams in the group). Then, the top 2 countries from each group enter the knockout stage, where if you lose, you go home. The winners keep advancing until they reach the last match of the tournament, the World Cup Final. The 2 teams that lost in the semifinals also receive a chance to compete for the 3rd through a 3rd place match.
In the 2022 World Cup, we saw Belgium, the team ranked 2nd in the FIFA national team rankings, go out in the group stage. Denmark, the 10th ranked team, and Germany, the 11th ranked team, also failed to advance to the knockout rounds. However, the biggest surprise came from Italy, the 6th ranked team, not even qualifying to take part in the World Cup.
A pleasant surprise came when we saw Christian Pulisic and the USMNT (US Men’s National Team) qualify for the round of 16, before ultimately falling 3-1 to The Netherlands. In the Round of 16, we also saw Morocco knock out Spain on their way to the Quarterfinals.
In the Quarterfinals, we witnessed some more surprising upsets. First, Luka Modric and Croatia stunned Neymar Jr and Brazil by drawing with them at the end of extra time, even after Neymar’s 105+1’ goal as Petkovic (Croatia) came up with an equalizer in the 117’ of the match, 3 minutes before the end of extra time. If you only watch one highlight from the World Cup, I suggest it be Neymar’s goal against Croatia. Then, Croatia proceeded to beat Brazil in penalties 4-2, sending the 1st ranked team home. We also saw Morocco shock the world by upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal 1-0. Some believe that the Portugal manager, Fernando Santos, made a mistake by bringing Ronaldo off the bench, as it was too late for them to come up with an equalizer. Ronaldo, in probably his last World Cup, was eliminated in the Quarterfinals, with his dream of winning the international tournament being just a dream. Messi and Argentina barely got past the Netherlands in a Penalty Shootout, after the Netherlands came back from a 2-0 deficit and came up with an equalizer in the last minute of second half stoppage time (90+11’). France beat England after Giroud scored a decider (go-ahead goal) in the 78th minute of the contest. Soon after, Harry Kane skied (hit over the goal) a penalty, missing out on the chance to equalize.
In the Semi-Finals, the favorites won, as Lionel Messi and Argentina comfortably handled Croatia 3-0, while France defeated Morocco 2-0. However, Morocco’s record-breaking World Cup journey was a huge accomplishment as they became the first African Nation to make the Semi-finals in the tournament. Morocco also received 4th place in the tournament, losing to Croatia in the 3rd place match.
Finally, in the World Cup Final, we saw 2 powerhouses, Argentina and France, face off for a chance to make history. France was looking to be the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their title and be back-to-back champions. Lionel Messi on Argentina was looking to add the last missing trophy to complete his accomplished trophy cabinet. The match started with Argentina looking dominant while France was worse than terrible. Argentina started off their scoring with a penalty from Messi. Then, Angel Di Maria finished the counter-attack with an outstanding goal, making it 2-0 Argentina. In the 79th minute of action, France received a penalty, and Mbappe nailed it through the bottom left corner (80’). Then, 1 minute later, in the 81st minute, Kylian Mbappe scored another miraculous goal, tying it up at 2-2. It went to Extra time before Messi knocked in another goal in the 108th minute, cleaning up the save from the French Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. In the 118th minute, Mbappe scored another penalty, accomplishing a hat trick and knotting the game at 3-3. However, France also received another chance to score in the 120+3’ where Randal Kolo Muani took a shot between him and the goalkeeper, which the Argentine goalkeeper Emi Martinez saved. The biggest regret for France is Kolo Muani had Mbappe running on his left, and a pass to the French superstar could’ve won them the tournament. Argentina outlasted France in the penalty shootout, winning 4-2 and giving Messi his much desired World Cup victory.
In conclusion, the 2022 Qatar World Cup was definitely one of the wildest World Cups yet, and I await the 2026 world cup with tremendous excitement.