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  • Writer's pictureNoah Nikolai

Reviewing the Historic 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar

Last month, the FIFA World Cup finally came to a close after 64 matches across 29 days of competition. With the dust finally settled, let’s take a look back at this World Cup–its most notable players, teams, moments, and the records that were set.

Right from the start this World Cup was already one of the most exciting and unpredictable ever with the group stage–-the initial set of games—presenting amazing performances, surprising upsets, and new records. One such record was an unfortunate one for the host: Qatar. Qatar produced the worst ever result from a World Cup host nation, losing all three of their matches, scoring only one goal, and failing to advance past the group stage. There were also records set by individual players in the group stage, most notably by Lionel Messi, who became the oldest player to both score and assist in a single World Cup match. Additionally, Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty in Portugal’s first match made him the first man to ever score at five different World Cups.

In addition to these new records, there was plenty of excitement in the opening round. There were several surprising results, both in individual matches and in the group tables. In Group C, underdogs Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina in the first match, winning 2-1 and snapping Argentina’s 36-game unbeaten streak. However, unfortunately Saudi Arabia was unable to advance out of the group. In Group D, Australia was able to move onto the round of 16 for the first time since 2006 by knocking out a favored Denmark team with a 1-0 victory in the last group stage match. Group F also saw a surprising finish with Morocco going unbeaten to win the group, and #2 ranked Belgium crashing out. However, the most exciting group was Group E, which saw Japan win the group and knock out 2014 champions Germany, and almost had Costa Rica advance as well.

The United States also made an appearance in the group stage after having made it back to the World Cup this year. Their first match was against a Wales team–-who was playing in their first World Cup since 1958–-in which Timothy Weah, a winger for the U.S., scored the opening goal off Christian Pulisic’s assist. Despite maintaining that lead through most of the second half, the U.S. conceded a penalty near the end of the game, bringing the final score to a 1-1 tie.

Following that match was a game against group favorites England, where the U.S. managed to outshoot the opposition and get a 0-0 draw, setting up a must-win game against Iran which was won on a 38th minute goal from Christian Pulisic to send the U.S. to the round of 16. Despite having more possession than the Netherlands, the final result still went the Dutch way, with their 3-1 win eliminating the United States. Despite the loss, there is still reason for the team to look forward to the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted primarily on U.S. soil.

Along with the United States’ loss, most upset teams were eliminated in the round of 16, with the exception of Morocco, who managed to hold on to a win in penalties against Spain. Then came the quarterfinals, all four of which would come down to the very end. Argentina managed a win in penalties after the Netherlands came back from 2-0 down in the last minutes of regulation, including a goal in the 101st minute. This match was also notable for historical reasons as it set the record for the most yellow cards given in a single World Cup match with 18.

More history was made in Brazil’s quarterfinal loss as they became the first team in World Cup history to lose after scoring first in extra time, with underdogs Croatia equalizing then winning on penalties. France managed a 2-1 win over England which largely came down to a miss by England’s captain, Harry Kane, on a late penalty. Likely the most memorable result of the quarterfinals was Morocco’s 1-0 win over Portugal, making them the first ever African nation to make it to the World Cup semifinals.

However, Morocco’s run would end there, as a late goal by France sealed their 2-0 victory over the underdogs and saw France through to their second straight World Cup final. The other semifinal was not as competitive, but still saw some of the best plays of the tournament as Argentina cruised past Croatia 3-0. Those results set up a final showdown between Argentina and France and their two superstars, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe (who are actually teammates at their club, Paris Saint-Germain).

Argentina controlled the match early, and it was reflected in the scoreline with Argentina taking a 2-0 heading into halftime. Argentina held that lead most of the second half until Mbappe made a penalty to cut the lead to one, then–-just 90 seconds later–-put a volley into the back of the net to tie the game and send it into extra time. Once again, Argentina took the lead with Messi scoring in the 108th minute, but Mbappe converted another penalty in the 118th minute to tie the game and make him only the second man in history to score a hat trick (the scoring of three goals in one game by a single player) at a World Cup final. After France almost put the game away in the last minute of extra time, the final went to penalties, where Argentina’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was able to stop one shot and saw another go wide, which let Gonzalo Montiel win the game for Argentina with his penalty kick.

This result sealed the trophy not only for Argentina (their first title since 1986), but also for Messi, as he captured the trophy that had evaded him in what was likely his last World Cup. On top of that, he became the first man to score in every round of a World Cup and won his second golden ball for the best player at the World Cup. Despite his final hat trick not being enough to secure France the win, it did give Mbappe the golden boot for the tournament and took his all-time World Cup goal tally to 12. Overall, despite the controversy surrounding this World Cup, it will still likely be remembered as one of the best World Cups of all time and will not be forgotten anytime soon by those who witnessed it.

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