World Cup 2022: Group Stage Highlights

by Johanna Roelich

This tournament is shaping up to be a memorable one for sure and we still have a long way to go. As the knockout stages loom, we are looking back at those group stage games that shocked nations, caused controversy, and produced great comebacks! 

Let’s start with England’s thumping win over Iran, shall we? Let’s be honest, no one thought England would come out and bag 6 goals in their opening match. Historically, England haven’t been the most exciting team to watch under Southgate and the poor run of form coming into this world cup, but the lads pulled it out the bag! 

There are always upsets and shocks at every world cup but Saudi Arabia coming from behind to beat Messi & Co 2-1 will forever be remembered. Many wrote them off before the first whistle, but Saudi Arabia showed that anything can happen in major tournaments. 

On the topic of upsets, another game that no one predicted occurred. Japan took down the giants that are Germany and came from behind to win 2-1 too. Both of these unforgettable games took place one day apart which made spectators start to realise this world cup could be a special one with full of twists and turns. 

Before major tournaments start, you always know who the “big” teams are, and Spain are constantly in that category. But what we didn’t know was the masterclass they delivered against Costa Rica. A ruthless 7-0 win to kickstart their campaign was the perfect statement to the world to show Spain have arrived and they mean business while also playing some beautiful football too. 

Many have tipped Brazil to win the tournament, in fact they are the favourites. Which makes them play with a lot of pressure, and that didn’t phase Richarlison. Brazil’s front man turned into prime R9 during the game against Serbia by bagging a brace and scoring a quality scissor kick for his second. The goal the tournament so far!  

Another big upset came from the Moroccans. Keeping a clean sheet and netting 2 against the red devils – Belgium that is, not Manchester United. Again, proving why this world cup has had many ups and downs and you can’t write anyone off as you never know what might happen on the big stage. Group F is a very competitive group and Morocco have just made it even more difficult to predict who will progress! 

One of the most entertaining games of the group stages came from a matchup you wouldn’t expect. Cameroon dug in to claw back from 3-1 down to rescue a point with 2 goals in 2 minutes which resulted in the game ending 3-3. The beauty of the world cup is watching players you never usually would and being thoroughly entertained. Aboubakar with a sublime chip summed up the quality of this game! For us, this game was a real highlight from this winter world cup. 

Arguably one of the biggest talking points so far was whether Ronaldo touched the ball for the header against Uruguay. He certainly claimed it but after looking at the replay many believe the trajectory of the ball didn’t change, insinuating Ronaldo didn’t touch the ball and the goal goes to Bruno Fernandes. In the grand scheme of the tournament, the goal is insignificant as Portugal already had a 1-0 lead but Ronaldo, as competitive as he is, wanted to be on the scoresheet. What do you think? Did Ronaldo touch or ball or not? 

Qatar wasn’t expected to go particularly far in this competition but being the first nation to not make it through to the knockout stages wasn’t the outcome they would’ve wanted. As the host nation, you will always want to do better than expected but unfortunately, they have been left with the title – The first host nation to not make it out of the group stage ever.  

England’s last group stage game came against fellow brits, Wales. It is always a tasty affair when a British rivalry is drawn in a major tournament and this one lived up to the hype (for England fans). A very lacklustre first half left three lions’ fans having déjà vu of the previous game against USA but they quickly turned it around in the second half by winning 3-0 and Rashford’s perfect freekick sent the whole nation into bedlam. 

Yet another extraordinary comeback was made by Japan last night, seeing them finish top of their group after victory over Spain. This victory came with great controversy though, as the winning goal that knocked Germany out of the competition, looked to have gone out of play before Tanaka hit it to the back of the net. This competition continues to prove its shock factor! What do you think, was the ball out of play? Bo decision has sparked more debate.

The last 16 stage kicked off on Saturday 3rd December, seeing USA and Australia leaving the competition. And that is our roundup of highlights from the world cup group stages! Some great games, shocks, and plenty of 0-0’s. A world cup is full of surprises and that’s why we love it. Now it is time for the real tests of the tournament, the knockouts. These are the games where everything is on the line and there can only be one team who advances and we can’t wait! 

Here’s the remaining last 16 games, kicking off today with England and Senegal. Let’s have it!

Last 16

Sunday, 4 December England v Senegal

Sunday, 4 December France v Poland

Monday, 5 December Japan v Croatia

Monday, 5 December Brazil v Korea Republic

Tuesday, 6 December Morocco v Spain

Tuesday, 6 December Portugal v Switzerland

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