The biggest sporting event in the world was held from November 20th to December 18th, and we witnessed something like never before. The last dance for the footballing GOATs, the last World Cup for many Legends of the game, everyone was hyped up for the tournament to kick off. The very first time a World Cup was played in December (mid-season), hosted in the Middle East for the first time and it all happened in a very small geographical area, which made it a very unique tournament in the footballing world.
Never forget this was the highest-spending World Cup ever with a massive outlay of over 220 billion US dollars across 12 years. A usual World Cup budget is around 15-18 billion US dollars, which shows the enormity of this tournament. Out of the 8 hosting stadiums, 7 were specifically built for the event with the newest technology while the only pre-existing stadium ‘Khalifa International Stadium’ was also upgraded with the latest technological advancements. ‘Stadium 974’ got its name from the number of shipping containers used to build it and Qatar’s international dialing code, and it is said to be completely dismantled after the World Cup. It is the first-ever temporary stadium used in a FIFA World Cup.
Qatar 2022 didn’t disappoint us on the group stage at all, though it wasn’t amusing for the hosts. Qatar became the first host nation to lose the opening game in World Cup history. The tournament's biggest shock happened when Argentina lost the opening game to Saudi Arabia 2-1, ending their 36-game unbeaten run while just being 1 game away from leveling up with Italy to the World Record (37).
While one GOAT witnessed defeat on match day 1 the other created history in the opening game being the first player to score in 5 different World Cups, as Cristiano led Portugal to victory over Ghana after a scintillating game of football. Japan shocked the world by defeating both Germany and Spain in the group stage and finishing as group toppers. Also, South Korea got qualified for round 16, thanks to an injury-time goal.
Canada scored their very first goal in a World Cup by their very own star Alphonso Davies, even though they ended last in their group. With a very strong squad, England dominated their group with a goal fest, with many of their brilliant attackers balling out on the pitch. Prolific Goal scorer, Robert Lewandowski finally got his World Cup goal at the age of 34.
Morocco coming as underdogs for the 2022 Qatar World Cup topped a group consisting of Croatia and Belgium, showing signs of a very promising team. Vincent Abubakar did something that only the great legend Zinedine Zidane had done before in a World Cup, scoring and getting a red card in the same game. In the recent World Cups, it has been a trend or rather a curse that the World Cup holders are to have a group stage exit, but the title holders France, were the first team to qualify for round 16, showing that they’re not here to mess up but to retain their title and that no World Cup curse can stop them.
When it is football, everyone remembers Brazil, from the great Pele to Romario, Ronaldo Nazario, the one and only Ronaldinho, Kaka and now in the present, their main man Neymar and the Brazilians' ballers didn’t disappoint us at the group stage. Joga Bonito - Brazil kept entertaining the whole world. Brazil was marked as a favourite by many bookkeepers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. To the shock, great teams such as Belgium, Germany, Uruguay and in-form Denmark failed to pass the group stage. Overall, the group stage had it all; drama, excitement, fights, dance moves, passion and of course records.
The knockout stage was expected to be even better after an amazing group stage campaign and so it was. The Atlas Lions eliminated the Spanish tiki-taka. Portugal thrashed Switzerland after scoring 6 goals as Goncalo Ramos scored a blistering hat-trick on his debut in a World Cup. Japan despite all the effort throughout the tournament, finally lost to Croatia in the penalty shootout. Brazil destroyed South Korea 4-1 and shattered the last Asian hope of the tournament.
The quarter-finals were fully actioned packed clashes among the heavyweights. Argentina defeated the Netherlands on penalties after a thrilling 2-2 game, that had everything. Fights, red cards, extra-time comebacks and so on but in the end, Messi and his men emerged victorious. Title favourites, Brazil were out after losing to Croatia on penalties. Croatia, a country with just 2.8 million citizens defended their lives with the hope of another miracle just as in 2018, but this time not to be runners-up.
The biggest clash of the quarter-finals was among the heavyweights France and England. Title holders France showed their character and why they were to be World Champions by defeating England 2-1. Morocco continued their impressive run as they eliminated Portugal and ended Cristiano Ronaldo’s dreams. The whole football world was in tears, as one of the greatest in the game was leaving the pitch without the only trophy that was missing in his illustrious career, the World Cup.
While one GOAT’s hopes were ended the other was still on the mission. Croatia, last year's runners-up was only aiming to champion this time. For Argentina, it was also to seek revenge on the 3-0 defeat against Croatia back in the 2018 World Cup. Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi lit the stage as Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0 to reach another Final Cup after 8 years.
Morocco carrying the hopes of an entire Continent and the entire Islam race faced off against France in the semi-final. Morocco had been so solid in defence throughout the World Cup conceding just 1 goal so far. But France with the experience and quality of the players opened up the Moroccan defence and emerged victorious to reach back-to-back World Cup finals since Brazil in 2002. For Morocco, there was nothing to worry about, in the 88-year-long history of World Cups, this was the first time an African nation had reached the semi-final. It wasn’t an easy route for Morocco at all, a group with Croatia and Belgium, a Round of 16 against Spain, a quarter-final against Portugal and the semi-final against mighty France.
Croatia faced off Morocco for the 3rd place and won 2-1 after a thrilling end-to-end encounter. The great Luka Modric has led Croatia to be runners-up in 2018 and to 3rd place in 2022. It is an extraordinary achievement for a country that small.
After all, it was the final, and France awaiting back-to-back World Cups. Argentina was eying a 3rd World Cup and redemption after the 2014 final loss. More than that a World Cup trophy to the great Lionel Messi to cement him as the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ his long-lasting rival for over 15 years Cristiano Ronaldo had missed it out. This was Messi’s chance to win the only trophy he was missing. France was here before they eliminated Argentina in the quarter-finals and went on to be Champions. Just as the tournament had been, everyone knew it was going to be one hell of a final.
Messi’s Argentina faced off Mbappe’s France in a thrilling final. The 2 Parisians as expected set the stage on fire. As Messi scored a brace and Mbappe scored a hattrick in the final after 60 years. After a 3-3 draw the game went to penalties and Argentina was crowned Champions. Since the great Diego Maradona lifted the World Cup in 1986 his successor and now arguably the Greatest player ever lifted the prestigious World Cup trophy for Argentina after 36 Years.
We have to speak about this team, they were a team entirely different from what Germany faced back in 2014. A team that would die for their captain Lionel Messi, a team that had been on an unreal run before the world cup, coming to the tournament after winning Copa America and Finallysima, they were only eying the price. Surprisingly, it was a shocking result on match day 1 but as many believed 2022 was to be Argentina’s year, and it was to be Messi’s trophy. Lionel Messi was unreal throughout the tournament as he broke record after record proving again and again why he was the best. Just like Peter Drury commentated ‘He is the point of difference, he has always been’. Not to forget this is a 35-year-old we are talking about. Being a Ronaldo fan it’s tough to accept but surely the debate is over. Lionel Messi, you have completed football and here I’m saying you are the GOAT!
Qatar FIFA World Cup, the tournament with the most goals scored is the best or one of the best. It had everything. Qatar’s organizing had been done to perfection. With over a million spectators attending the 64 matches and over 3 billion fans watching from home, the footballing world will remember it as a World Cup like no other!