Curtains of the 2022 FIFA World Cup have just concluded, with one of the best and most thrilling finales ever between the eventual winner Argentina as well as the then defending world champion France. Apart from being a controversial edition in the history of the competition, its dramas, debates and discussions will make it a memorable one for generations to come.
We take a look at the winners and losers of the inaugural FIFA World Cup to be held in a Middle-East State and during the winter season.
Winners: The Two Lionels
Lionel Scaloni came into the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as the youngest head coach at 44 years of age. Only nine years older than the captain of his men, Lionel Messi, he had played alongside La Pluga as a player, hence winning the World Cup, also the third major silverware at international level coaching the Messi-led La Albiceleste is a unique feeling. As for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, the World Cup win had allowed him to edge out his arch-nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo in their storied and fascinating rivalry that spread across more than 15 years.
Messi and three others won these individual awards at the World Cup this year, read here for more.
Losers: Denmark, Germany and Belgium
European powerhouses were struggling prior to the Qatar World Cup, as seen in their UEFA Nations League matches, thus many had predicted most of the teams from that continent will fare poorly in the quadrennial contest. Although the UEFA members contributed half of the spots in the Round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final of the tournaments, three teams from the Top 11 teams in the world disappointingly bowed out in the group stage, namely Denmark, Germany and Belgium. Die Mannschaft and Die Roten Teufel were by far the biggest losers this year since one won the title four times in the past while the other has occupied either the 1st or 2nd spot of the FIFA ranking in recent years.
Winners: Proud Members of the CONMEBOL
The wish “This Time for Africa” had been realised with two teams making into the last 16 stage of the competition, while Morocco did the wonder by becoming the first nation from the African continent to reach the semifinal. Their heroic run in the tournament includes beating Belgium, Spain and Portugal in the group stage and knockout rounds, and efforts were almost paid off with a famous first World Cup medal for a CONMEBOL country, after they eventually lost to Croatia 2-1 in the bronze medal playoff.
It is difficult to write this, but Neymar, with all eyes on him to help lead Brazil to its record sixth World Cup this year, did not deliver his best.
But his upsets in the World Cup, including Brazil’s home edition, were shadowed by injuries and unnecessary showboating. The 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014, in which Neymar was forced to not play due to a severe back injury still rings loud amongst the Seleção and world football fans. While in 2018, play-acting and arrogance got in his way in Brazil’s shock exit from the tournament, after losing to Belgium in the quarterfinal.
With a much more mature personality and playing style as well as many young and talented forward options in the squad, Brazil was destined to win it all in Qatar. But Serbia’s rough nine tackles in the tournament opener made Neymar sit out for the rest of the group fixtures, and he looked to have flipped the negative narrative with performances against the South Koreans and the wonder goal versus Croatia. 34 years of age by then, the 2026 edition is most likely the last dance for the supremely-gifted player, but can he turn the frown of Brazilian fans upside down like finally in USA, Canada and Mexico?
(Photo Credits: Reuters)