The FIFA World Cup is an international spectacle that fosters a special feeling of togetherness that bridges differences between nations and cultures. Even with everything going on, this World Cup has provided outstanding matches, captivating storylines, rising stars and shocks like no other, it’s why we love football. Here’s our 2022 FIFA World Cup round up.
This year’s World Cup delivered multiple miraculous upsets and astonishing storylines; with many international powerhouses exiting the competition at the early stages. Ranked second in FIFA’s international rankings before the tournament, Roberto Martinez’s Belgium put in an utterly disappointing showing at the tournament as they bowed out in third place of Group F.
The side consists of some of the world’s best players often depicted as the ‘Golden Generation’; making the Red Devils’ exit even more shocking. The poor run of results has led to Martinez parting ways with the national side and Belgian fans will be hoping that the federation will put greater focus on rebuilding and driving the younger talent of Belgium going forward.
On the flip side of the most shocking eliminations, we have had some outstanding performances across the tournament such as Saudi Arabia and Japan’s wins over some of FIFA’s elites in the group stage – with Japan in particular creating a memorable end to their group with Spain and Germany.
However, our pick for the best performing underdog has to be Morocco – the people’s champions. Morocco conquered Belgium, Spain and Portugal to become the first African side to qualify for a semi-final of the World Cup. Unfortunately, defending champions, France, were too strong for Morocco and their World Cup run ended in the semi-final stage but Morocco’s heroic journey is one for the history books!
🔊 SOUND ON 🔊
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) December 14, 2022
Player of the tournament
For us, it has to be Argentina’s Lionel Messi. At 35 and most likely in his last World Cup, the little magician was the beating heart of Argentina’s success providing seven goals and three assists. Messi’s incredible run of performances in Qatar has reaffirmed his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time, a joy to watch.
A notable mention for us is Antoine Griezmann; a player who was a key cog throughout France’s World Cup journey. Situated as a playmaker behind Olivier Giroud allowed Griezmann so much freedom to create which he took with both hands and produced some magical performances.
Biggest underperforming player
Over the course of the tournament, there were a number of high-profile players who shocked us with their poor performances with two notable names being Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne.
Ronaldo’s last World Cup had an encouraging start with Ronaldo’s penalty helping Portugal defeat Ghana but it would all go downhill from there. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner would then have disagreements with Portuguese boss Fernando Santos in the country’s final group game, which led him to be left on the bench for the rest of Portugal’s matches. A disappointing end to an astonishing international career for Ronaldo.
For De Bruyne, a player often depicted as the greatest midfielder in the world at the moment, his controversial comments off the pitch about the Belgium squad being ‘too old’ would create a disjointed and hostile environment amongst the squad which reflected in their performances. The midfielder failed to create and perform to his usual standard as Belgium bowed out at the end of the group stages.
Goal of the tournament
We have seen some impressive goals at this World Cup but one that stands out to us is Richarlison of Brazil’s goal against Serbia. The goal encapsulated Brazilian-style football at its best, a perfectly executed scissor kick with such entertaining build-up play making it one of the most memorable goals you’ll see for a long time.
𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐳𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜! 🇧🇷🪄
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 24, 2022
Rising star of the tournament
Each World Cup, we see rising young players embrace the world’s biggest stage and showcase their talent. This year, we have seen some extraordinary talent from the likes of England’s Jude Bellingham, Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez and Morocco’s Azzedine Ounahi. However, our pick for the rising star of the tournament is Cody Gakpo of the Netherlands as he became the country’s first player to score in his first three World Cup matches.
Gakpo also became only the fourth Dutch player to score in three consecutive World Cup games, after Johan Neeskens, Dennis Bergkamp and Wesley Sneijder. These impressive stats would suggest that we should look out for this young player’s name come January as he will most likely be highly sought after across Europe.
The final battle: Messi vs. Mbappé
The final battle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be one to remember as Argentina took on reigning champions, France. Despite losing to Saudi Arabia in the first round, this match would be Messi’s final attempt to grab the elusive trophy that’s been missing from his collection. In one of the all-time greatest finals to finish a great tournament of enthralling football, Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties after a dramatic 120 minutes of fluctuating fortunes throughout the match.
Messi’s talismanic performances throughout the tournament would earn him his second FIFA World Cup Golden Ball award with Mbappé winning the Golden Boot award for his 8 goals, including a hattrick in the final. It felt like Messi was on a mission, yet coped well with the pressure on his shoulders – almost like it was his destiny, prophetic, written in the stars; the perfect ending for one of football’s greatest.
Simultaneously, the match felt like a passing of the torch, Mbappé has to be one of the most frightening forwards the world has seen in the past decade with one World Cup already to his name and has added another final to his experience. France will no doubt be title contenders in future World Cups to come, with Mbappé leading the forward line. We were privileged to watch this final, it felt like the perfect game.
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) December 18, 2022