By Alice Deyell, ’26
This winter, the FIFA World Cup took place in Qatar, four years after the last World Cup in Russia. 32 teams from around the world headed to Qatar for the 20th of November when the first match was held between the host country Qatar and Ecuador. Team Canada was one of these teams that qualified for the World Cup has been disqualified in the group stages. If you’re one of the people that hasn’t been watching the games or need a refresher, here’s what’s happened so far:
Group A was made up of Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the highest ranked of Group A, at 8th worldwide, followed by Senegal at 18th, Ecuador at 44th and Qatar at 50th. In the first game of the world cup, Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0. The Netherlands then beat Senegal 2-0 a day later. On the 25th, Senegal beat Qatar 3-1, and the Netherlands tied 1-1 with Ecuador. The final Group A games took place on November 29th, with Senegal beating Ecuador 2-1 and the Netherlands beating Qatar 2-0. Group A finished with the Netherlands on top with 2 wins and a draw and Senegal second with 2 wins and a loss, which moved both teams onto the round of 16. Ecuador and Qatar were sent home with a win, loss and draw, and three losses, respectively.
Group B was made up of England, Iran, Wales and the USA. England’s FIFA ranking was the highest in the group at 5th, followed by the USA at 16th, Wales at 19th and Iran at 20th. The first game of Group B was England against Iran, which ended in England winning by a large margin, 6-2. That same day, the USA tied with Wales. Wales then played Iran four days later, with Iran winning 2-0. England played the USA that same day, tying 0-0 in a game that should have been dominated by England. In the final games of Group B, the USA won 1-0 against Iran while England beat their neighbours Wales 3-0. Group B finished with England on top with two wins and a draw, the US second with two ties and a win, moving them into the round of 16. Iran’s win and two losses, and Wales’ 2 losses and a draw sent both groups home.
Argentina, Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia made up Group C in the World Cup this year. Argentina is ranked third in the world, followed by Mexico in 13th, Poland in 26th and Saudi Arabia in 51st. Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia 2-1 in the first game of Group C, which was a major upset. The same day, Mexico and Poland tied 0-0 in a close match. Next, Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 while Argentina beat Mexico 2-0 as well, putting Poland at the top of the group. On the final day of Group C games, Argentina beat Poland 2-0 and Mexico beat Saudi Arabia 2-1. Group C finished with Argentina on top with two wins and a loss, Poland second with a tie, a loss and a win, Mexico in third with a win, draw and loss, and Saudi Arabia in fourth, with two losses and a win. Argentina and Poland advanced to the round of 16, while Mexico and Saudi Arabia flew home.
Group D was made up of France, Australia, Tunisia, and Denmark. France lead the group in 4th, followed by Denmark at 10th, Tunisia at 30th, and Australia at 36th. On the first day of games for Group D, Denmark tied 0-0 with Tunisia and France beat Australia by a large margin at 4-1. On the second day, Tunisia lost 0-1 to Australia, and France beat Denmark 2-1 in a close game. On the final day of Group D games, Tunisia beat France 1-0, another great upset to the highly-ranked teams. Australia then beat Denmark 1-0 and Group D finished with France on top and Australia second. They advanced to the round of 16 while Tunisia and Denmark went home, failing to qualify.
Group E was made up of Japan, Spain, Germany and Costa Rica, making Group E the group with the highest-ranked teams. Spain lead the group in 7th, followed by Germany in 11th, Japan in 24th and Costa Rica in 31st. The games in Group E started with Germany losing 2-1 to Japan. Spain had a great first game, destroying Costa Rica with a score of 7-0. On the following day of Group E games, Spain and Germany tied 1-1 and Costa Rica had a comeback, beating Japan 1-0. Japan then beat Spain 2-1, putting them at the top of Group E. Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2, but it wasn’t enough to push them through as they lost out to Spain based on goal differential. Group E sent Japan and Spain into the round of 16 while Germany and Costa Rica didn’t qualify.
Group F was made up of Morocco, Croatia, Belgium and Canada. Belgium lead the group in 2nd followed by Croatia in 12th, Morocco in 22nd and Canada in 41st. The first game of Group F, Morocco vs. Croatia, ended in a draw of 0-0 while Belgium then beat Canada 1-0. The second day of games in Group F ended with Morocco beating Belgium 2-0 and Canada losing to Croatia 4-1. Canada got their first-ever World Cup goal in the 2nd minute of the game but ended up losing to the finalists of 2018. On the last day of games for Group F, Croatia and Belgium tied 0-0, and Canada lost 2-1 to Morocco. Group F finished with Morocco on top and Croatia second. Belgium and Canada were eliminated while Morocco and Croatia were sent into the round of 16.
Group G was made up of Brazil, Switzerland, Cameroon and Serbia. Brazil lead the group in 1st, followed by Switzerland at 15th, Serbia in 21st and Cameroon in 43rd. The first day of games for Group G started with Switzerland beating Cameroon 1-0. Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 a few hours later. Cameroon tied Serbia 3-3 on the second day of Group G games which was the most goals in a tie game in this World Cup. Brazil also beat Switzerland by a small margin, 1-0. Finally, Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2, in a close game. Brazil also lost to Cameroon on the final day of their group-stage games. Group G finished by sending Brazil and Switzerland into the round of 16, while Cameroon and Serbia were eliminated.
Group H was made up of Portugal, South Korea, Uruguay and Ghana. Portugal lead the group in 9th, followed by Uruguay in 14th, South Korea at 28th and Ghana at 61st. Group H started its games with a tie (0-0) between Uruguay and South Korea, while Portugal beat Ghana 3-2. Ghana then managed to beat South Korea 3-2, while Portugal beat Uruguay 2-0 that same day. The final games of Group H ended with South Korea beating Portugal 2-1, which, coupled with Japan’s win over Spain, was a good day for the Asian countries. Ghana lost to Uruguay 2-0 that day as well, but it wasn’t enough to get Uruguay to the round of 16. Group H finished with Portugal on top and South Korea in second. Ghana and Uruguay were eliminated from the tournament while Portugal and South Korea were sent on into the round of 16.
Round of 16
The round of 16 is the first of the elimination rounds where the top 16 teams play one game, if they win, they move on to the quarter-finals, if they lose, they are out of the world cup. In the round of 16, a team must lose, and if the game is tied at 90 minutes, there are two extra 15-minute halves. If the teams are still tied after extra time, it goes to a penalty shootout, where each team gets 5 shots and whoever gets the most wins. If they score an equal number of penalties, it goes to sudden death where they continue penalties until one team gets more than the other.
Netherlands VS USA
The first game in the round of 16 was The Netherlands vs. the USA. Although the USA had a few chances on goal, nearly all attempts were blocked by the Dutch keeper. The Netherlands scored their first 2 goals in the first half, and one more in the second half of the game, coming to a final score of 3-1 for the Netherlands, who continued to the quarter-finals.
Argentina VS Australia
Argentina and Australia faced off on December 3rd. The match’s first goal was scored by none other than Lionel Messi for Argentina after a few passes around the box. The second Argentinian goal was also scored in the first half. The Australian team put up a good fight in the second half, managing to score a goal, which ended the game at 2-1 for Argentina, who moved on to the quarter-finals, while Australia was eliminated.
France VS Poland
The reigning World Cup champions, France, played Poland in an aggressive match. The French put on pressure from the beginning, which was met by equally good saves from the Polish team. The first French goal was awarded during the first half by Giroud and the second goal came early into the second half by Mbappé, who scored again in the final minute of the game. In the 5th minute of added time, the Polish scored a goal via penalty taken by Lewandowski. The final score was 3-1 for France, who moved on to the quarter-finals while Poland went home.
England VS Senegal
England and Senegal were the next to battle it out for a spot in the quarter-finals. Senegal had their first real chance at net in the 31st minute, although it was just saved by the English keeper. Shortly after, England scored their first goal. The second England goal was scored in the second minute of added time to the first half. Early in the second half, the third English goal was scored. Senegal had a free kick just outside the box in the 73rd minute, which was just wide of the goal. The game thus ended with England winning 3-0, letting them advance to the quarter-finals where they would play France.
Japan VS Croatia
In the Japan vs. Croatia game, Japan got the first goal nearing the end of the first half. In the 54th minute, Croatia scored their goal. The game stayed 1-1 even after 30 minutes of extra time, so the game went to penalties. Japan’s first shot was saved by the Croatian keeper Livaković, which was followed by 3 more misses and one goal. Croatia scored 3 penalties, dubbing them the winners of the game and sending them into the quarter-finals.
Brazil VS South Korea
Brazil, number one in the FIFA rankings, played South Korea on December 5th. Brazil dominated the game with strong possession. Their first goal was scored in the 6th minute, thus beginning the iconic lineup of Brazilian celebration dances. In the 10th minute, Neymar scored again for Brazil through a penalty. Brazil’s third goal was scored by Richarlison, still in the first half, which was celebrated by a team huddle with their coach. The final Brazilian goal was scored in the 35th minute. With Brazil up 4 at halftime, South Korea tried to win back some goals, and successfully scored one after a strong corner shot by Paik. They still lost, however, and Brazil moved on to the quarter-finals.
Morocco VS Spain
Morocco played Spain on December 6th, causing another major upset as the game went to penalty shootouts. Both teams were matched in a very even game. After 120 minutes of play, penalties started with Spain taking the first shot. Spain squandered the first three of their penalty kicks, while Morocco scored three, thus eliminating the Spanish team from the World Cup and moving Morocco into the quarter-finals.
Portugal VS Switzerland
In the final round of 16 game, Portugal faced off Switzerland. Portugal scored their first 2 goals in the first half of the game, the first by Ramos, and the second by Pepe’s signature header, and making him the oldest men’s player to score in the knockout stage of a World Cup. Portugal’s third goal came in the second half from Ramos again, while the 4th goal came minutes later. Two minutes after this, Switzerland managed to scrape a goal in off of a cross, but it was followed by a third goal from Ramos, giving him a hat trick. In the added time at the end of the game, Portugal scored its sixth goal, ending the game 6-1 for Portugal, and knocking Switzerland out of the tournament.
Croatia VS Brazil
The first game of the quarter-finals was between Croatia and Brazil. The game was 0-0 for the entirety of the game’s full time, but in the 106th minute of added time to the first period of extra time, Brazil’s Neymar Jr. was able to finally score. Croatia got their first goal in the 116th minute, by Petović. Although Brazil had a few more chances, no more goals were scored and the game went to penalties. Brazil started the penalty kicks with a shot that was saved by the goalkeeper, then missed another one when the ball hit the sidebar and bounced out, which lost them the game. Croatia scored 4 out of 5 penalty kicks while Brazil had only 2, moving Croatia on to the semi-finals.
Netherlands VS Argentina
The Netherlands played Argentina in the next quarterfinals game. The first goal of the game came in late in the first half for Argentina. After a foul by The Netherlands in the second half, Argentina was awarded a penalty that let Messi score his tenth World Cup goal. The Netherlands got their first goal near the end of the second half, and their second goal came in the tenth minute of added time, making the score even. The game went to penalties once again, where the Netherlands scored 3 and Argentina scored 4. After an aggressive game, Argentina moved on to the semi-finals.
Morocco VS Portugal
Morocco and Portugal faced off on December 10th in another major World Cup upset. Morocco scored their first goal near the end of the first half. Throughout the game, Portugal had many chances to score, but the shots went just above the net. In added time after the second half, Morocco had another great chance to score with a breakaway, even with one less player (Cheddira got a red card and was sent off the field), but it was met by Portugal’s keeper. The game ended with Morocco winning 1-0 and eliminating Portugal from the Cup.
England VS France
The final game of the quarter-finals was a highly anticipated match between two powerhouses: England and France. France’s first goal came early in the first half, while England played well and had many chances, but didn’t score. The referee called a penalty kick for England, which was taken by their team captain, Harry Kane, who managed to tie the score. Both teams had more chances until Giroud scored for France. England received another penalty in the 80th minute, which was taken by Kane again, but the shot was wide and England failed to bring the score up. France thus won the game 2-1 and moved on to semis.
Croatia VS Argentina
The first of the World Cup semis left Argentina fans hopeful for the possibility of their first win since the famed Maradonna. Argentina dominated the game against Croatia, not letting them score a single goal and ending with a final score of 3-0. The first goal was a penalty scored by Messi, and the next two goals followed in the next 5 minutes of the first half. The second half was spent with Croatia’s defence trying to keep the Argentinians away from the goal. Although Croatia had more shots than Argentina, they couldn’t successfully hit the target and were sent to the 3rd place playoff while Argentina prepared for the final.
Morocco VS France
The last semi-final had France starting out very strong with their first goal in the 5th minute of the match. The rest of the game was spent by Morocco dominating possession and, unfortunately, missing many great opportunities to score. France scored again midway through the second half, and Morocco wasn’t able to make any goals to even out the score. The game ended with France winning 2-0 and sending Morocco to compete against Croatia for 3rd place, while France would face Argentina in the final.
3rd Place Playoff: Morocco VS Croatia
The third-place playoff between Morocco and Croatia was an incredibly even game, with both teams having nearly equal possession and scoring their first goals within the first 10 minutes of the game (Croatia in the 7th minute and Morocco in the 9th). Croatia scored again in the last 3 minutes of the first half, and the rest of the game was spent by Morocco desperately trying to score and maintain their strong defence. In the end, Croatia won 3rd place, and Morocco ranked 4th. Despite their failure to reach a spot in the final, Morocco has still made history as the first African country to reach semi-finals and performed extremely well.
Final: Argentina VS France
The highly-anticipated final had 2 of the strongest teams facing each other, both with high stakes. The Argentinians were craving a win, which hasn’t been awarded to them since Maradonna played in 1986, especially since it would be Messi’s last World Cup before his retirement. France was also searching for a win, hoping to repeat their win from 2018 in Russia, and join Italy and Brazil as the only teams to win back-to-back World Cups. The game started with Argentina playing strong, with Messi scoring a penalty for their first goal, and Di María following with his own goal in the first half. France picked it up in the second half, however, as Mbappé scored a penalty in the 80th minute, following it with another goal in the 81st minute. The two goals in under a minute tied the game until Messi scored again. This was quickly evened out by Mbappé scoring again, awarding him a hattrick and leaving the score 3-3 even after additional time. As the penalties came along, Argentina finally pulled ahead for good, scoring 4 times while France only managed 2. Despite the Argentinian goalie being given a yellow card, Argentina won their 3rd-ever world cup, knocking out France’s dream of a repeat win. Two notable achievements coming from this final, however, are Argentina’s Messi finally winning his first World Cup and making him one of the only players to have won every international football award, as well as France’s Mbappé being the first player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final in about 30 years, and the youngest player to ever do so.
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