With 48 video games and your entire group stage in Qatar behind us now, listed below are a number of the issues we have realized up to now…
1. Time flies once you’re having enjoyable
Fifa has insisted that referees precisely add time that has been “misplaced” on purpose celebrations, VAR choices and normal time-wasting. It was initially astonishing to see 9 or ten minutes added on at half-time and on the finish of matches, however midway by way of the group stage followers appear to have mentally adjusted to being disenchanted that the officers had solely added six or seven minutes of additional play. And when the conclusions of the matches have been as enjoyable as Portugal vs. Ghana or as tense as Ecuador vs. Senegal, who would not need extra?
2. It isn’t sufficient to drag off an upset
Morocco and Japan upset the percentages to high their teams, however each wanted greater than a shock consequence to take action. Japan made identikit comebacks from a purpose right down to beat each Germany and Spain 2-1 to advance. Morocco added Belgium’s defeat to their draw in opposition to Croatia, giving them the springboard for fulfillment. However a shock shouldn’t be sufficient, as Saudi Arabia proved. They had been unable to capitalize on their gorgeous opening win in opposition to Argentina. Whereas it can nonetheless rank as one of many greatest World Cup shocks of all time, and the Saudis received a nationwide vacation out of it, Argentina completed high of the group and into the spherical of 16, and Saudi Arabia didn’t.
And picture telling Cameroon earlier than the match began that they had been going to beat Brazil and draw with Serbia and nonetheless not qualify?
3. Semi-automatic offside is a ache
The thought of utilizing in-ball sensors and participant motion monitoring to assist make marginal offside choices is not horrible in itself. However implementation, relatively than dashing up decision-making, appears to have led to a flurry of cumbersome choices. Targets are chalked off or penalties are denied due to microscopic offside violations within the build-ups that no human has seen and even appealed about. Offside wasn’t so damaged that it wanted to be mounted like this, was it?
4. The golden boot continues to be related
Enner Valencia has gone residence along with his Ecuador team-mates, however whilst you would not again Kylian Mbappé flourishing as France go deeper into the competitors, England’s Marcus Rashford, Netherlands’ Cody Gakpo and Spain’s Álvaro Morata all have extra minutes forward of them and are tied. with Mbappé with three targets.
Lionel Messi, Richarlison, Bukayo Saka, Olivier Giroud, Ritsu Dōan, Bruno Fernandes, Breel Embolo, Andrej Kramarić and Ferran Torres additionally rating twice with second spherical matches forward. A hat trick may swing it.
5. It has been probably the most well-disciplined group video games ever
World Cups are sometimes marked by a flurry of crimson playing cards after Fifa issued new refereeing directives – suppose prompt crimson for a deal with from behind which instantly appeared in 1994, resulting in Bolivia’s Marco Etcheverry being given his marching orders within the opener in opposition to Germany, simply the primary of many . Not this 12 months.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was despatched off for a excessive problem, and Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar obtained a second yellow card for taking off his shirt to have fun his winner in opposition to Brazil, and that was it for gamers all through the group stage. Admittedly, South Korea’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento was additionally proven a crimson card for protesting after South Korea’s defeat by Ghana, however that was kid’s play in comparison with the 18 crimson playing cards within the 2006 group stage and the 13 in 2002.
6. Brazil will at all times be Brazil – form of
They topped their group for the eleventh consecutive time. It might have been on purpose distinction after that surprising defeat to Cameroon, however 1978 was the final time Brazil did not win their opening World Cup group. The lesson stays, if you’re drawn with Brazil, intention to complete second.
7. Steadiness in confederations (considerably) restored after 2018
Uefa nations are likely to overperform in Europe-based World Cups, and in Russia 2018 – because it had been in Germany 2006 – a whopping ten of the 16 locations within the second spherical had been taken by European groups. There is a larger combine to emerge from the teams this time round – eight European groups, two from South America, one from North America, two from Africa and an unprecedented three from Asia make for a extra globally balanced Spherical of 16.
8. European groups with star gamers cannot simply flip up and count on to undergo
Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Wales all went into the match assured of progressing, with a few of them even believing that they had an out of doors probability of going far sufficient to say the primary prize. All put in a string of lukewarm performances in opposition to groups from different confederations, which meant Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne, Thomas Müller and Gareth Bale, regardless of being the massive names earlier than the match, all ended up on early flights residence.
9. The specter of human rights remained at Qatar’s get together
The fixed vacillating by organizers and Fifa over whether or not captains may put on LGBTQ+ armbands, or whether or not followers may herald rainbow clothes, meant the query of Qatar’s human rights was by no means out of the image. Qatar received no comfort on the pitch. With 12 years to arrange and a reported $200 billion spent for the privilege of internet hosting, Qatar turned within the worst World Cup efficiency ever by a bunch nation. Was it value it?
10. We are going to by no means see its like once more
The 32-team format was first launched for France in 1998, however this 12 months marks the final time. For 2026, co-hosts the US, Mexico and Canada will welcome a further 48 groups. In response to present plans, this implies 16 teams of three. Seeding will imply the probabilities of ‘teams of dying’ are slim, and there may be each probability teams may find yourself in tepid closing matches the place two groups know a draw will go well with their functions and see them each by way of. Nonetheless, there are whispers that Fifa might rethink this resolution. Whatever the format they select, this was the final World Cup group stage as we have recognized it for the final 24 years.
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