FIFA World Cup 2022: Good, bad and silly

An overview of the journey of teams and players at the festival of football.

Published: 19th December 2022 11:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th December 2022 11:44 AM   |  A+A-

Fireworks explode as artists perform during the World Cup closing ceremony.(Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

Lionel Messi & Kylian Mbappe have dazzled at the World Cup, while Morocco caught the imagination of a continent on their run to the semifinals. The hosts Qatar flopped, Germany made a swift exit and Cristiano Ronaldo discovered he was no longer an automatic pick for Portugal. Here are the hits and misses...



The team became the first African side and the first Arab team to reach the WC semifinals. Walid Regragui’s men, ranked 22nd in the world, beat Belgium and drew with Croatia on the way to topping their group before dumping 2010 champs Spain & Portugal out of the tournament. Roared on by thousands of fans and supported across Africa and the Arab world, they came up short in the semis, but they have broken new ground.


The Asian nation shocked Germany and Spain to top their group before losing on penalties to Croatia in the round of 16.


The country underlined the progress Asian football is making by beating Portugal to qualify from their group but came unstuck against Brazil in the first knockout round.


Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, who went head to head in the final, have certainly lived up to their stellar billing. The forwards were vying for the Golden Boot till the final.

Messi, 35, though lacking his former pace, has shown an uncanny knack to turn on the style at key moments, highlighted by his dazzling run to set up Julian Alvarez for the third goal against Croatia in the semifinals.

Mbappe, 23, is ready to take on his Paris Saint-Germain teammate’s mantle as the best player in the world, looking unstoppable at times for defending champions France.


  • A clutch of young players have announced themselves on the biggest stage in Qatar.
  • Man City forward Julian Alvarez has already scored four goals while Portugal’s Goncalo Ramos smashed a hat-trick against Switzerland after being brought in to replace Ronaldo.
  • England pair Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham caught the eye along with Dutch forward Cody Gakpo, while Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol enjoyed an outstanding tournament.​


Cristiano Ronaldo: The superstar left the pitch in tears after Morocco ended his WC dream. The forward, without a club after his painful divorce from Man United, scored Portugal’s first WC goal from the spot in their win against Ghana. But he was left out of the starting line-up for their last-16 clash & watched from the sidelines as Portugal ripped Swiss apart.

Neymar: He equalled Pele’s record haul of 77 goals for Brazil but watched in agony as his side lost to Croatia on penalties in the quarter-finals. The Brazil great announced after his side’s exit that he might have played his final match for his country, saying he was “psychologically destroyed”.


Qatar: The hosts came into the WC with high hopes as reigning Asian champions but bowed early. They became only the second home team to crash out of the group stage after South Africa in 2010.

Germany: Four-time winners Germany exited at the group stage for the 2nd straight time. Coach Hansi Flick clung on to his job but German football has launched a review to find out what went wrong.


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