A week has passed since the 2022 FIFA World Cup has concluded. Even though some domestic leagues and tournaments have already restarted, most have not yet recovered from the thrilling drama that was provided by the biggest sports event in the world.
One last time, we are going to grade this year’s men’s football World Cup.
Final match (A+)
It had everything a sports fan would ask for.
A thrilling comeback, goals at extra time, a dramatic penalty shootout, a meme-able awards ceremony. Aside from that, records were broken, set, and equaled.
Coaches at opposing benches at the top of their game, making tactical adjustments before and during the match, one wrong move could spell doom in their own game of chess.
An engaged crowd hanging on to every movement on the pitch, from missed opportunities and errors, to goals and successful conversions.
Two legends of the sport, one in the twilight of his career and the other a young up and comer, staking their claim of who is the best not just in this contest but also overall.
This is the bar set for future World Cup fixtures and final matches. And how high of a benchmark it is.
Knockout rounds (A)
Just like the battle for the championship, the knockout round matches as well as the third place play-off, was replete of drama. Morocco and Japan set the tone of what the bracket would become. Although both fell short of winning it all, it gave hope to smaller countries and non-traditional football superpowers that, maybe one day, they would be the ones on top of the podium.
Nevertheless, it was familiar names that emerged. Save for that north African side whose biggest city is more recognizable as the title of a classic movie, the final four was comprised of the 2018 finalists and the reigning South American champion. But that does not take away from the achievements of perceived lesser squads that punched above their supposed weight.
Group stage (A)
As the Saudi Arabia versus Argentina match unfolded, no one was aware that it would dictate how the rest of the tourney would progress and looked at. From there, it would become open season. Germany and Belgium fell, while unheralded teams rose.
To put it succinctly, the group stage was bettors’ hell. It was no fun for them and the losing camps, but it was heaven for everyone else.
Match officials and VAR (A-)
The newfangled VAR that was introduced in Qatar took some time to figure out. But what I learned from music YouTuber Adam Neely is that “repitition legitimizes”. As long as calls are consistent, there was no problem with the officiating for me.
Some might not like the paper-thin offsides (or the ball-on-the-line one in the Japan versus Spain match). But that is the reason technology was introduced into the game; so that judgement and missed calls would become less common and the letter of the law is adhered to in every instance.
This has been the most engaging crowd since, dare we say it, the 2010 World Cup. There were no vuvuzelas, but every team’s supporters brought a unique flavor to the atmosphere as a whole. It felt like there was no empty seat in the venue.
African fans were festive, Latin American crowds were passionate, Arab supporters were rabid, and east Asian audiences were unwavering. Surprsingly, it was the Europeans, who can be spirited if they are into it, who were drowned out by the noise.
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