Given the controversy surrounding Qatar as the host of the FIFA World Cup 2022, it was difficult to imagine the tournament proving a success. It may come as a surprise, then, to hear that it may actually be worth consideration as the best ever. Here are some of the key reasons why.
Shock results are always memorable, tending to elevate the quality of a World Cup in the mind. And Qatar 2022 certainly had its fair share. On only the second full day of games, Argentina were beaten from a winning position by the much lower-ranked Saudi Arabia. Subsequently, and in a very similar way, Japan inflicted defeat on both Germany and Spain. Later on, in the quarter-finals, pre-tournament favourites Brazil were knocked out by an ageing Croatia side. However, it’s arguably Morocco that will be remembered most fondly in this category, due to their unexpected victories over Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, which saw them make it to the semi-finals.
There are many who would argue that the measure of a World Cup’s greatness begins with its final. This one was to be contested by two heavyweights in Argentina and France, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it was watched by almost 20m people in the UK, and was the second most popular sports match of the year in betting in the US and other countries. Some online betting platforms had Argentina as the favourites.
It’s not uncommon for the games themselves to underwhelm. Occasionally, the reason for this is that the game is one-sided, which looked for the majority of normal time in this final to be the case, as Argentina dominated for the opening 80 minutes and held a comfortable 2-0 lead. But two quick-fire Kylian Mbappe goals for France, followed in extra time by another for each side – including Mbappe’s third – meant that it would be decided by penalties. Not incidentally, Mbappe became only the second player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. Nevertheless, in the end it was Argentina who emerged as champions.
Iconic moments can also impact the perception of a World Cup. Down the years, they have often come from within a match, in the form of a goal, a save, a piece of skill, or even a controversial incident. Disappointingly, some tournaments can’t boast a truly iconic moment at all.
This one, though, will forever be associated with the image of Argentina captain Lionel Messi kissing and lifting the trophy. An extremely popular player – considered by the many to be the greatest footballer of the modern era – he had announced that this World Cup would be his last, and therefore his last chance to win the one major trophy that had eluded him. his success here will undoubtedly have made Qatar 2022 more popular in turn.
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