Qatar 2022 – Group Stage Review

Asleep At The Wheel

This tournament’s group stage had the usual slow start for some; of which a few managed to shift gears with each passing game. Then there were some who didn’t bother to get off the plane, two players who got back on the plane, some that looked like they were playing to not get injured and clearly there were teams with little to no preparation, or ideas as to what they were going to do when they had control of the ball. The Belgians were the most obvious of that lot.

The Netherlands never had to get out of third gear to win their group so it will be interesting to see if they can motivate themselves against a fierce opponent in the United States who have been raring to go since their lackluster draw with the Welsh.

Although a flu virus is plaguing the Dutch dressing room right now, let’s hope it doesn’t have an affect on the match.

Gareth Southgate was screamed at by every punter in the UK to get Phil Foden on the pitch after England were well dominated by the aforementioned resurgence of the US. Their test against Senegal should be seen out but with this World Cup having so stunning moments one after another?

Did we really think we would see the demise of Messi and Argentina in Qatar? That Saudi Arabia game earned one team Rolls Royces from their royal family and the other the largest slice of humble pie one could consume. A team that needed to get into third and fourth gear quickly, Argentina rose to the occasion and have placed themselves in a favourable position in the bracket with two good performances.

As good as Australia were against Tunisia and their brave effort to beat Denmark, the lack of quality showed when they faced France and I fear that will be the same when they face Messi and co.

Giant killers Japan, who tripped over a rock with Costa Rica, are incredibly disciplined, hard working and very skilled. They were rewarded with Croatia who are ready to turn it up another gear with their play steadily improving through the group.

The emergence of their highly touted young defenders, real class of players in front of them, incredible camaraderie and the legend that is Modrić are going to provide one of the top round of 16 matches versus Japan.

An incredibly tough match was expected against Germany for the Spanish, and with their 7-0 obliteration of Costa Rica, they just needed to see out the game versus the Germans. Until the Japanese took the lead on Thursday and those same Germans had to save the Spanish from a similar fate. Spain still look a threat to anyone and have got away with the lesson about not shifting down and getting to the finish line without slowing down.

Morocco are a team that have kept the foot down and are getting plenty of notice going into this match. For Morocco, it isn’t possession that matters as much as what you do with it and that has shown in all three of their group matches with terrorizing counter attacks. Spain will certainly be favourites but we remember, this is a World Cup worthy of a Netflix series already with the drama.

Brazil have performed well enough to entertain their people and only slowed down to give Cameroon a goodbye present to Vincent Aboubakar as the referee gave him his goodbye dismissal shortly after for his second caution. With the first team rested for most of the game, Brazil will be well prepared by their manager for the challenge of South Korea, a team gaining notoriety for their never say die attitude. South Korea deserved something out of each group match and Brazil will be wise to not take the country with a 24/7 channel of Son Heung-Min, lightly.

Portugal keeper Diogo Costa allowed the group to be flipped on its head if it wasn’t for Inaki Williams’ feet letting him down as have happened to many other players on these pitches. Dispatching of Uruguay with relative ease and although getting pipped by the never say die Koreans, Portugal handled their group stage well and are certainly favoured to take out the Swiss who were almost embattled in a street fight against Serbia which could have certainly seen some dismissals if it weren’t for the kind refereeing. They were not on the same level as Brazil regardless of how long it took Casemiro to score and don’t look a complete match for Portugal. Especially with Cristiano Ronaldo now having more time to prepare after cancelling all hair appointments.

With the next World Cup going to 48 teams, this type of drama will not be seen until we are much further in to 2026 so I was happy to be able to soak in as much of the genuine passion on display in Qatar. Finally, with father time able to catch us all this great tournament will say goodbye to many world class talents that have been caught by such after this group stage. Suarez, Cavani, Muller, Neuer, Qatar, Gareth Bale (did he even get off the plane), Guardado, Navas, Ayew brothers, a high percentage of Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, and most importantly, the Canadian legend – Atbia Hutchinson.

Round of 16 Predictions

  • Netherlands/USA
  • Australia/Argentina
  • Poland/France
  • Senegal/England
  • Croatia/Japan
  • South Korea/Brazil
  • Spain/Morocco
  • Switzerland/Portugal

Who do you think will be progressing?

Join the discussion for "Qatar 2022 – Group Stage Review"

  1. December 3, 2022 @ 8:54 pm
    The element of surprise from the perceived weak teams is now over making the task for sides like Japan, Senegal, Morocco much, much harder. I'll go with the favs in all Round of 16 matches except Switzerland/Portugal. Let's stick with "Rossocrociati" on that one.
  2. December 5, 2022 @ 8:23 am
    Best goal/assist: South Korea's last goal to advance to the knockout round vs Portugal. The calmness with the ball with 3 defenders around him, then he just push the pass between the defender's legs. Not again moment: Ghana missing another penalty kick in the World Cup. Canada: The coach needs to be more active in getting most of his players into the top five leagues for Cdn to compete at the World Cup level.

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