FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Review: Messi, Mbappe, Morocco & More

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was a tournament that provided plenty of unforgettable moments. Relive one of the most controversial and spectacular World Cups of all time...

A feast of fantastic football and energised spectators (both in and out) of the stadiums went some way alleviate concerns many fans had ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Lionel Messi hoisted the trophy for the first time, which finally put a rest to the G.O.A.T debate.

Morocco defied all expectations to make it to the last four (where France ultimately defeated them) which was the first time an African nation reached the World Cup Semi-Finals (after 88 competitions)

Fans were able to consume the World Cup in new ways with Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and devoted apps gaining huge popularity which supplemented coverage from traditional media and live score websites.

Despite FIFA, greed, corruption and scandal surrounding it, football saved the World Cup and the glut of glorious games were enjoyed by billions of fans.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended the choice of Qatar as World Cup hosts ahead of the tournament kicking off in November 2022.

Controversy Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Since being awarded the tournament in 2010, Qatar’s selection as host was continuously questioned for a variety of reasons. These include their human rights record, environmental concerns, LGBTQ+ issues, their lack of footballing history, and the reported death of many migrant construction workers.

While allegations of bribery or corruption involving members of FIFA’s executive committee were well-publicised during this time.

Ahead of the tournament, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura sent a letter to participating nations stating “Please, let’s now focus on the football!”. Infantino followed this up in a bizarre pre-tournament press conference, taking aim at critics of the tournament, labelling them of hypocrisy and racism.

Qatar World Cup failure
The host nation, Qatar, failed to win a single game as they made their FIFA World Cup debut.

Group Stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Group A

Hosts Qatar and South America’s Ecuador kicked off the first of 48 group-stage games. However, it wasn’t the fairytale start for Qatar. Their 2-0 defeat meant they became the first host nation to lose their opening match at a World Cup.

Netherlands and Senegal completed Group A with the Oranje going through to the Round of 16 undefeated. They began their campaign with a 2-0 win against Senegal before drawing 1-1 with Ecuador. Louis Van Gaal’s side also won 2-0 against Qatar, who exited the tournament without a single point.

Senegal would join the Netherlands in the next stage after they defeated Ecuador 2-1.

Group B

England entered the 2022 World Cup as one of the favourites and backed up their potential by starting with a 6-2 victory over Iran. However, their 0-0 draw with the USA meant a win over Home Nations rivals, Wales, was needed for England to qualify. Nevertheless, goals from Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden meant England qualified as Group B winners.

In addition to their draw with England, USA drew 1-1 with Wales before ending the group stage with a 1-0 win over Iran, confirming their place in the next round.

Saudi Arabia FIFA World Cup
Saudi Arabia caused considerably the shock of the tournament with a 2-1 win over Argentina.

Group C

Eventual winners Argentina got off to a disastrous start after a surprising 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia. The upset led to a public holiday being declared in the Arabic country. Argentina would turn their form around with 2-0 wins against Mexico and Poland to top the group.

The second qualifying spot would be separated by 1 goal. Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari consolation goal against Mexico meant the Central American nation finished with a -1 goal difference, leaving them on level points with Poland. However, with a zero-goal difference, Poland clinched second place.

Group D

2018 FIFA World Cup winners France kicked off their tournament with a 4-1 win over Australia. This is despite the Socceroos taking the lead within 10 minutes. France secured their place in the second round with two Kylian Mbappé goals against Denmark. Didier Deschamps made nine changes for their final group game with Tunisia, losing 1-0.

Outside favourites, Denmark, exited without a win and only 1 point. After drawing 0-0 with Tunisia and losing to France, Australia surprised many with a 1-0 win. The Aussies also beat Tunisia 1-0 to qualify for the Round of 16.

Group E

Group E had an eventful start with Japan stunning Germany with a 2-1 win, before Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0. The European heavyweights then drew 1-1 as Costa Rica bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Japan.

The final round of games saw Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 but it wasn’t enough for them to qualify. That is despite Japan pulling off another shock win over Spain (2-1). Japan deservedly topped the group with Spain going through on goal difference.

Group F

Morocco became the surprise team of the tournament, that’s despite an opening 0-0 draw with Croatia. While much-fancied Belgium began with a 1-0 over Canada, it would be their only victory of the tournament.

Goals from Zakaria Aboukhlal and Romain Saiss for Morocco led to a 2-0 win for the African side, and 0-0 with Croatia wasn’t enough for Belgium to qualify. Canada’s defeats to Morocco and Croatia meant the North American side and European favourites, Belgium, would be going home.

Cistiano Ronaldo 2022
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in five FIFA World Cup tournaments in 2022.

Group G

Tournament favourites Brazil didn’t waste any time qualifying for the Round of 16 with wins against Serbia (2-0) and Switzerland (1-0), topping the group.

Although they failed to qualify for the next stage, Cameroon had a somewhat eventful World Cup. Despite losing to Switzerland by 1 goal to nil, they followed it with a 3-3 with Serbia before a late Vincent Aboubakar goal clinched a shock 1-0 win over Brazil.

Switzerland’s 3-2 victory over Serbia meant they would join Brazil in the next round, with Serbia exiting with just one point.

Group H

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score at five FIFA World Cups with a penalty in Portugal’s 3-2 win over Ghana. They would follow it up with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay to secure their place in the next stage.

The group ended in a dramatic fashion. With South Korea beating Portugal 2-1, Uruguay were 2-0 against Ghana yet required another goal to qualify for the next round. In 10 minutes of injury time, striker Edinson Cavani clashed with Ghanaian defender Alidu Seidu in the penalty area. However, referee Daniel Siebert waved away calls for a penalty by Cavani and his teammates. At the final whistle, Uruguay surrounded the official.

Despite being on 4 points each, it was South Korea’s 4 goals scored (they lost 3-2 Ghana) that secured them second place in the group.

World Cup 2022 Morocco
Morocco were the surprise of the tournament. After knocking out Spain in the Round of 16, they would eventually reach the Semi-Finals, the first African and Arab nation to do so.

Round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

For the most part, the Round of 16 happened without many surprises. The Netherlands overcame USA (3-1), Argentina disposed of Australia (2-1), France saw off Poland (3-1), England sent Senegal packing (3-0), Portugal smashed Switzerland 6-1, and Brazil expectedly beat South Korea 4-1.

For Japan, it was the end of the road. Despite their surprise wins in the group stage, and taking the lead against Croatia, it would be the 2018 runners-up who would go through after a 3-1 penalty shootout.

The biggest surprise of the round came in the form of Morocco knocking out Spain. After a goalless 120 minutes, Morocco saw off the Spanish with 3 goals and no replies.

Croatia Brazil 2022
Brazil were the favourites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup but was knocked out by Croatia, captained by Luka Modric.

Quarter Finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup 

Many expected Brazil to defeat Croatia, yet that was not the case. As the game headed to penalties after a 1-1 draw, Croatia’s Nikola Vlasic began the penalty shootout with a goal. With the shootout at 4-2 to Croatia, defender Marquinhos stepped up to take their fourth penalty. However, he hit the left post, leaving the likes of Neymar in tears as Brazil departed the World Cup.

The meeting between Netherlands and Argentina was their 10th at the FIFA World Cup. Although the Netherlands had won four of their previous matches, Argentina would get their only second World Cup victory over the Dutch. Argentina went 2-0 up before two goals from Wout Weghorst led the game to extra time, and then penalties. After an intense game that saw  17 yellow cards plus a red for Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries, the South American side won 4-2 in the penalty shootout.

The other two Quarter Finals ended within 90 minutes, yet Morocco did continue to surprise many. Their 1-0 win over Portugal meant they were the first African (and Arab) side to reach the Semi-Finals of the World Cup.

The round ended with two European heavyweights meeting – England vs France. The reigning champions took the lead through a 17th-minute goal by Aurélien Tchouaméni. Harry Kane replied with a 53-minute penalty before Olivier Giroud saw France take the lead after 78 minutes. With time running down, England’s Mason Mount was fouled and rewarded with a second England penalty. Despite already scoring one penalty in the game, captain Harry Kane shot over the bar.

Théo Hernandez
Théo Hernandez (right) of AC Milan scored one of France’s goals to take the reigning World Cups holders to the 2022 final.

World Cup 2022 Semi-Finals

After becoming everyone’s favourite underdogs, Morocco’s time at the 2022 FIFA World Cup came to an end as goals from Théo Hernandez and Kolo Muani secured France’s place in the Final with a 2-0 win.

The other Semi-Final between Argentina and Croatia began cautiously until Julián Álvarez was fouled after 34 minutes. Superstar Lionel Messi converted the penalty to take the lead with Álvarez doubling the lead shortly after. Messi and Álvarez would pair up for a third goal as the Manchester City player (Álvarez) assured Argentina’s spot in World Cup Final.

World Cup 2022 Third place Play-Off

Having played out a 0-0 in the group stage, Croatia and Morocco faced off for the bronze medal. Despite an outstanding showing throughout the tournament, the Atlas Lions fell short. The match ended 2-1 in favour of Croatia thanks to first-half goals by Joško Gvardiol and Mislav Oršić.

Argentina 2022
After a dramatic final, Lionel Messi and Argentina lifted the FIFA World Cup in December 2022.

An Unforgettable 2022 World Cup Final

The 64th and final game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final took place between France and Argentina. The French wanted to regain the Championship they won in Russia in 2018. However, it would be the South American side who would be lifting the famous trophy after one of the most memorable World Cup Finals.

Taking place at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, it showcased some of the best footballers in the world right now including Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé. It was Messi who gave Argentina the lead with a penalty after 23 minutes. Angel Di Maria added to the lead 13 minutes later.

With 10 minutes left, Argentina had control of the game as France failed to make any attempts to score. However, Randal Kolo Muani was brought down in the penalty area by Nicolás Otamendi. Mbappé stepped up to give France any hope of a comeback. Shockingly, Mbappé scored a beautiful volley just a minute later to take the game into extra time.

After a goalless first half in extra time,  Lionel Messi scored again. With two minutes away from victory, Argentina made the mistake of giving France another penalty. Mbappé would secure a hat-trick (only the second in a World Cup Final), to take the dramatic final to penalties.

Mbappé and Messi comfortably scored their respective side’s opening spot kicks. Kingsley Coman’s attempt was saved by Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. After Paulo Dybala gave Argentina the advantage, Aurélien Tchouaméni shot went wide. Leandro Paredes made it 3-1 before Kolo Muani gave France hope of winning. However, it was Gonzalo Montiel’s winning penalty that would secure Argentina’s first World Cup victory since 1986.

The game was deservedly praised as one of the greatest matches in World Cup history.

Argentina World Cup Celebration
Fans took to the streets of Argentina to celebrate their memorable victory.
Photo by Agustin Fernandez on Unsplash


Despite FIFA and all of the controversy ahead of the tournament, football saved the 2022 FIFA World Cup. With 172 goals, the 2022 World Cup has the record for the most goals in a single tournament.

On top of that, it had surprising results, star-making performances (such as Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez, Gonçalo Ramos of Portugal, and the Netherlands’ Cody Gakpo), memorable matches, and in the case of Lionel Messi, solidifying his place as one of, if not THE, greatest football player of all time.

The winning captain was awarded the Golden Ball award for being the player of the tournament. While his Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappé, took the Golden Boot award, thanks to his 8 goals in the tournament, including his hat-trick in the final. Argentina’s Emiliano Martínez and Enzo Fernández respectively took the Golden Glove and FIFA Young Player of the Tournament awards. While England was rewarded the FIFA Fair Play Award.