Diving Into The Field— A Recap Of The World Cup

¡Olé, Olé, Olé! , And it begins!

This year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar has been a collection of numerous enthralling moments. From Kylian Mbappé scoring a hat trick in the finals to equalise Les Bleus against Argentina to Lionel Messi realising his World Cup dream and concluding the 36-year wait for Argentine victory in the prestigious tournament. 


As the four vital weeks slowly passed, the world was on the edge of its seat, deliberately anticipating what could happen next. 


Being heralded as the most incredible World Cup in history by moguls and laymen alike, this year’s cup has been nothing short of a spectacle. The 32-team tournament was played in 8 stadiums, with the final being held in Lusail Stadium. Being the first Middle-Eastern country to host a World Cup, Qatar did not hold back on any facet by spending an estimated $220 billion in the past 12 years, making this year’s World Cup the most expensive in history. 


The Opening Ceremony took place on November 20, 2022, and commemorated the start of the tournament with pomp and grandeur. A stellar performance by Jungkook, a member of the South Korean band BTS, and narration by renowned actor Morgan Freeman, finessed the ceremony performance. The closing ceremony created the same vigour as the previous by displaying a roster filled with famous personalities like Ozuna, Nora Fatehi and Rahma Riad. Furthermore, actor Deepika Padukone and Spanish former professional footballer Iker Casillas unveiled the World Cup trophy made of solid gold from its travel case.


Some records and significance of this year’s World Cup

“NOW IS ALL” these three words say everything, it justifies that everything that’s happening is in the present nothing concerns the past nor future but just the moment, just now, and that’s what FIFA is all about; ceasing that very moment because when that adrenaline hits, the feeling can’t be defined; and that how exciting was FIFA 2022 because it was all about now. 


It was held in Qatar in such a short time frame of 29 days and 64 matches, making it the first world cup held in the Arab World and the second held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan, also making it the first time that Qatar National Football Team entered the event.


Like every other year, there were some record-breaking facts during the game, which made this year’s competition unique.


  1. Mbappe converted another penalty to join Geoff Hurst as the only man to score a hat-trick in the World Cup Final and force a penalty shootout.


  1. Record the most goals Spain has ever scored in a single World Cup match.


  1. Mexico 0-0 Poland, Denmark 0-0 Tunisia, Croatia 0-0 Morocco and South Korea 0-0 Uruguay. Qatar 2022 has set another record, with eight teams drawing the opening game 0-0 in the same World Cup for the first time.


  1. With Marcus Rshford’s second goal for the country, England registered its 100th FIFA World Cup Goal.


  1. Steve Mandanda becomes the oldest player representing the French national football team.


6.+172 goals scored, surpassing 171 goals in 198 and 2014.


  1. Messi became the first player to get two Golden Balls and is now the most appeared player in the world cups, i.e., 26 times.


  1. It was suspected that the finals had nearly an average of 26 million viewers on Fox, Telemundo, and streaming in the US, with a projected 5 billion people globally watching some part of the month-long tournament.


  1. Morocco became the first African nation to advance to the world cup semi-finals.


  1. Spanish referee Antonio Lohoz handed out a record 16 yellow cards to players during Argentina’s intense quarter-final win over the Netherlands, which went to penalties.


  1. Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score at five different World Cups.


The Davids are the Goliaths: Noteworthy Teams

Korea Republic
Undoubtedly, one of the strongest faces from the Asian nations, South Korea or the Korean Republic, has shown its prowess in the sport in this year’s cup. After beating Portugal in Group Stage H by a score of 2-1, it qualified for the Round of 16, eliminating Uruguay. The Taegeuk Warriors consist of a plethora of up-and-coming players. 


The captain of the South Korean National Team and Tottenham Hotspurs “Sonny”, Son Heung-Min, and Hwang Hee-Chan led his team to victory against Portugal with his 91st-minute goal, have garnered public attention through their stellar performance. After showing its mettle in the Group Stages of the 2018 World cup by defeating Germany with a score of 2-0, it seems they will keep their momentum until the 2026 World Cup.


The Blue Samurai is a very nascent team, having played its first cup in 1998. The team, however, has proven itself as a worthy contender through its amazing plays in the tournament. The goals scored by Takuma Asano and Ritsu Doan have impressed many onlookers. 


The Qatar World Cup is Japan’s fourth time where they have secured a position in the Round of 16. The team had the world awestruck after beating two European powerhouses, Germany and Spain, in Group Stage E, which was also monikered by many as the Group of Death in this year’s World Cup. Japan secured 9th position after seeing its loss in penalties against Croatia, which is quite notorious for its 100% success rate in penalty shootouts in the World Cup. The Land of the Rising Sun is surely not soon meeting its dusk.


The gift which keeps giving, the Slavic Nation didn’t disappoint football fans this year as well. The Vatreni, having started in the same year as Japan in 1998, are a relatively new team. It, however, has already established itself as a formidable opponent by coming in 3rd place this year, having already won 2nd place in 2018 and 3rd place in 1998. With Captain and Midfielder of La Liga Club Real Madrid, Luka Modric, and exceptional goalkeeper Dominik Livaković, the team was bound to go far into the tournament. The Vatreni are renowned for being extremely lucky in the game of penalties. This year was no exception for the Croats as they retained their 100% success rate in penalty kicks, with the Vatreni winning all of the three penalty shootouts they played in this year’s World Cup.


Shining Stars: Noteworthy Players


Emiliano Martinez
Emiliano Martinez is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Aston Villa and the Argentina national team. Martínez has represented Argentina in junior international matches. He played on under-17 and under-20 levels. He earned his first senior cap for the Argentina team in 2021, helping his nation win the 2021 Copa América, the Golden Glove trophy, and keep a clean sheet in the final. FIFA 2022 was also a banger for Martinez when he secured another Golden Glove by displaying his heroics and best performance in the finals by helping his side prevail 4-2 on penalties. However, there’s been controversy and an argument about the way he made gestures with the glove; hey! He doesn’t seem to give a damn about it.


Son Heung Min
Son Heung-min is a South Korean professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and captains the South Korean national team. He is considered one of the best forwards in the world and one of the greatest Asian footballers of all time. Also known for his speed he’s one of the fastest players who’s the first Asian player to win the Premier League Golden Boot. And yet again, keeping his morality forward more than anything else he’s going through, he decided to play 2022 FIFA with all his grit and power leading South Korea to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2002. He displayed a true sportsman spirit and hunger for his passion.


Lionel Messi
No one but the GOAT himself; as people say, Lionel Messi doesn’t need an introduction per se; he lives in billions of hearts and is a reason for someone dreaming of being a footballer one day. As always, Messi was flawless throughout the competition, goal after goal, and man is now the fourth on the all-time list securing 13 goals throughout the world cup. He played his 5th and last world cup since he’s already 35 by cutting the dry spell for Argentina and winning the First World Cup. Messi also took away a Silver Boot and became the first player to earn his second Golden Ball. After this win, he realised his love for the game and wanted to play more. Also, there’s a buzz going around that Messi’s face can be on the notes of Argentina; well, the man’s gotta do what he’s got to do.


Moments to Remember


Richarlison’s Scissor Kick
The Seleção Canarinho have yet again shown their style this year, but one Samba Boy has stolen the limelight through his gracile scissor kick in the Group Stage game between Brazil and Serbia. Scoring a brace in the same match, the Brazilian showed his skill by achieving the Hyundai Goal of the Tournament and leading his team to victory as well. The forward is already well known for his performance after transferring to Premier League Club Tottenham Hotspur for the 2022/2023 season. His showmanship in this World Cup has solidified his proficiency in the field.


Mbappé’s Hat trick in Finals
French Professional Footballer and Forward for Ligue 1 Club Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappé, had surprised football fans worldwide through his remarkable skills during the Finals between Argentina and France. After Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria scored one goal in the first half, things looked dismal for Les Bleus. Mbappé managed to turn the tables by scoring a brace and forcing the game into extra time. After Messi scored his second goal in the 108th minute, Mbappé again managed to equalise with a penalty kick and complete his hat trick. It is also the second time in history that a player scored a hat trick in the World Cup Finals, the first being executed by former English Footballer Geoffrey Hurst in 1966 against Germany. 


Emiliano Martínez’s Eccentric Celebration
Argentine Professional Footballer and Winner of this year’s Golden Glove Award, Emiliano Martínez, has recently been under scrutiny by the press and public for his somewhat questionable celebration after receiving his award. The goalkeeper has received both support and criticism in equal parts, some perceiving it as light humour, others ascertaining it as crude and distasteful. Emiliano is also well-known for his eccentricity on the field, from aggravating the opposing strikers to delaying penalty shootouts. He also performed this celebration after he won the Best Goalkeeper Award in Copa America 2021. In the words of FIFA, his celebration was certainly a huge upset. 


Japanese Etiquette and Courtesy
Out of all the things that happened at the world cup this year, one thing that caught everyone’s attention was the Japanese fans who were seen and captured cleaning up the stadium after the match. Even when the country won their game, beating Germany, they kept the trail going. Even the lock room of the players was found to be super tidy, with notes of gratitude left for the officials. This tells us that, however, wherever you go, you can overpower everyone just by your morals.


Saudi Arabia defeats Argentina 2-1
Saudi Arabia didn’t take a chance in snapping Argentina’s win streak. Argentina came in with 36 unbeaten games, but all that was shattered when the second lowest-ranked team Saudi Arabia defeated them by 2-1.


First Female Referee in Men’s World Cup
Stephanie Frappart created history by officiating the Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar when Germany played Costa Rica. “It’s a strong sign from FIFA and the authorities to have women referees in that country,” she said.



A Phenomenal Conclusion to 2022

The 2022 World Cup was a delightful experience, filled with the most exciting events in football history. Lionel Messi got to lift his deserved trophy and the sombre elimination of Portugal, which perhaps robbed Cristiano Ronaldo of a World Cup forever. It also saw some massive upsets, like Japan’s victory over Spain and Germany and Saudi Arabia defeating Argentina 2-1. It also set the foundation stone for a new generation of talent in the sport, giving rise to new fan favourites like Kyllian Mbappé, Phil Foden, and Ferran Torres, who will have big shoes to fill. 


The rise of countries like Japan and South Korea also challenges the status quo of European and South American nations’ combined hegemony in the knockout stages. 


After all these events, the 2022 Qatar World Cup has left the world desperately wishing for the next four years to pass as a fleeting second. 


Football is reaching new heights, larger audiences, and breaking old records as tournaments keep passing us by. As Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, remarked, “Football is becoming truly global”. 


Written by Yoihen Elangbam and Shubhangi Garg for MTTN

Edited by Advaith Gurunath and Aayush Niraj for MTTN

Featured Image courtesy of Hindustan Times

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