2022 FIFA World Cup

A deck of upsets and surprises excite the stadiums as the quadrennial game reaches the final round.


Nicholas Yoo, Editor-in-Chief

With France and Argentina chosen to compete for the treasured golden FIFA World Cup trophy in the final round of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, there have been a lot of mixed emotions with the outcomes of other matches along the way. The 2022 World Cup has been a rollercoaster, giving fans around the world the thrill of a lifetime. Here are just some of those upsets and wins that made this year’s match unforgettable. 

  1. Saudi Arabia vs. Argentina

Perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the entire group stage, Saudi Arabian fans cheered in as their national team beat the Argentinians, 2-1, in a shocking victory in Group C at the Lusail Iconic Stadium. Within a span of five minutes from the 48th minute to the 53 minute, two goals from Saleh Al-Sheri and Salem Al-Dawasari made a striking come back from the first half of the game. Saudi Arabian fans were seen yelling “Where is Messi?” as they cheered in victory. And while Messi and Argentina’s dream of winning the World Cup may have seemed to end right there, they only continued to improve. 

  1. Tunisia’s shock Against Denmark and France 

Tunisian coach Jalel Kadri had announced that he would resign his position if his team couldn’t qualify for the knockouts stage that began on December 3rd. Though the national team did not reach the round of 16 from Group D, they defied odds, playing an exciting 0-0 draw against Denmark and narrowly lost, 0-1, to Australia courtesy of Mitchell Duke in the 23rd minute.

However, through their tribulations they created their own history, beating the defending WC champion, France, 1-0. Unfortunately, that victory was not enough for them to qualify for further rounds as Australia had beaten Denmark.

  1. Australia through to the Round of 16

Speaking of Australia, they had made quite an impact on their fans too. After the “Socceroos” reached the round of 16 for their second time in all WC appearances (2006 was the first), they were bombarded by the French, losing 1-4, in their first match, then faced victory moving on, beating Tunisia 1-0 as well as Denmark in a nail-biting game. 

  1. Japan takes the world by surprise 

The Japanese national team shocked the entire world as they scored two major victories in this year’s WC defeating Germany in 1-0 win and an amazing 2-1 success against Spain. While expected to not even qualify for the round of 16, the Blue Samurais came out fighting. After Japan’s dramatic 0-1 loss to Costa Rica and Germany’s draw against Spain, the third-round games in the “group of death” became exciting. The country needed a win at any cost against Spain because Germany would have won against Costa Rica. 

Unfortunately, the first match in the round of 16 would ultimately be their last. After their quarter final tie, the Japanese fought with 2018’s 2nd place WC team Croatia, going down in the Penalty Shoot-Out. 

Through it all, they were most remembered for their behavior after their games with fans cleaning up in the stadium and players bowing down to their fans. An act of true modesty and respect—perhaps something more important than actually winning the WC title. 

  1. South Korea defies all odds 

The South Korean team, captained by international superstar Son Heung-Min, started their WC journey with a tie against Uruguay. Their frustrating loss to Ghana, 3-2, ended with a dramatic red card to head coach Paulo Bento after a call from the referee, ending the match on a corner kick led the stadium and social media in a frenzy. Despite the loss, the highlight of the match was upcoming footballer Cho Gue-Sung heading in 2 goals within a span of 3 minutes in the second half. 

In what seemed like a hopeless following match against the star-studded Portugal in their last Group H game, the Taeguk Warriors came out with a 2-1 victory. After the game, the team bit their nails in anxiety while being tied on goal difference to Uruguay then went to the round of 16 courtesy of more goals scored. 

  1. Croatia’s resistance to the final whistle 

Croatia, the runner up team from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, showed the world an exciting couple of matches. 

With an initial 0-0 tie against Morocco in their first game, the team came back and pummeled Canada 4-1. Hanging onto a 0-0 draw against Belgium, they moved forward to the round of 16, continuing their flurry of success against Japan winning it from the penalties after a 1-1 game. 

However, the biggest test was in the quarterfinal, after being victorious against their match with Brazil. After the initial game ended 0-0 in regulation, they kept their head in the nerve-wracking penalties and moved forward to the semifinal round, winning 4-2. 

  1. Morocco’s mighty leap of faith

Throughout the WC, analysts and fans throw bets around like flying cash and wrack their heads on statistics for the likely winning team. Never did the majority consider those bets would be in favor of Morocco. 

In the group stages, to beat Belgium 2-0 and tie with Croatia 0-0 was a feat of its own. Their success against Spain in the round of 16 and 1-0 win against Portugal in the quarterfinal led them to be the first African nation to advance to the semifinal round of the FIFA World Cup.