World Cup 2022: Year of the Underdog

Sophia Langlois, Reporter

Extraordinary things have been happening in this year’s World Cup- the favorite teams to win are losing group matches. The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar, after a few month postponement due to the massive heat wave, in the Lusail stadium, that created unplayable conditions for the players. Many people around the world have been anticipating this year’s tournament as a chance to showcase their patriotism in a fun, competitive way after the long emotional rollercoaster caused by Covid-19.

Each country with a full soccer team plays qualifying matches to enter the World Cup. After this, FIFA takes the top four countries in every region who qualified into the group stage. The group stage is ranked through a point system, three points for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. There are eight groups with four teams in each, ranged from A to H, each team in a group plays three matches against the others. The top two teams with the most points in the group advance to the playoff stages. In the playoffs, it’s all or nothing; if a team ends up tied when the 90 minutes end, they go into a shootout where the team with the highest number of goals wins. Then begins the quarter, semi, and final round where the ultimate winner is determined.

The first surprise happened on Nov. 22, when Saudi Arabia beat the two-time winner Argentina, 2-1. Especially when Argentina outplayed Saudi, with 70% possession of the ball and 6 shots on target when Saudi Arabia only had three shots total the whole game. Since the 1990 World Cup, Saudi Arabia is the first non-European team to beat Argentina. Lionel Messi scored the only goal for Argentina, while Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari scored for the Saudi team. Despite Argentina’s unexpected loss they’re in first for Group C with six points, and Saudi Arabia in fourth with three.

“Argentina is not as good as they used to be,” junior varsity soccer player, Tyler Gambino said. “They’re overhyped this year.”

On Nov. 23, Japan beat four-time Cup winner Germany, 2-1 in the Group E match. Germany had 88% possession, 771 passes and 26 shots overall, compared to Japan’s 12 shots and 269 passes Germany faced an embarrassing loss. Despite having control of the ball for most of the game, Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano managed to score against the German goalkeeper, Neuer. Currently, Japan is in second with three points while Germany is on the brink of elimination with one point.

“I was pleasantly surprised, it was an upset no one expected,” senior varsity soccer player, Kaylan Baptiste, said.

Germany is in a peril situation, resulting from their almost loss in their match with Spain. On Nov 27. Germany tied the game at the 83’ with a goal from Niclas Füllkrug. This tie awarded Germany with a much-needed point. Their last match with Costa Rica determines whether Germany is going to advance, an anxious time for the team and fans. Germany is in fourth place for Group E, with one point, they’ve lost one game and tied another.

“It was a good game,” junior, three-year varsity soccer player Alexandro Quintanilla said. “A draw was deserved; no team should’ve won.”


Arguably, one of the most shocking match outcome yet, Morocco beat the favorite team Belgium 2-0. Morocco becameo  the first African country to defeat a colonizer country in the World Cup. Belgium had around 67% possession and an equal number of shots, but Morocco had more shots on target. Romain Saïss hit one in at the 73’ mark and Zakaria Aboukhal scored an exciting goal nearing the end of the match at 90+2’. Morocco is in second with four points and two GD (goal difference), under Croatia who also has four points, but a three GD. Belgium is in third with three points and a negative one GD.

“It was a fantastic performance by Morocco, they put a really good fight against an organized team,” senior Bryan Langford said.

In Group G, an exciting match between Cameroon and Serbia ended in a tie, with the final score of 3-3. This is Serbia’s first tie in a World Cup match. 60% of possession was to Serbia, but Cameroon had eight shots on target, three more than Serbia. This was a cutthroat match, Serbia leading the match in the first half 2-1 and scoring again at 53’ while Cameroon caught up with two more goals at 63’ and 66’ during the second half. Their standings in the group are Cameroon in third, Serbia in fourth. They both have one point, but Cameroon’s GD is negative one and Serbia’s GD is negative two.

“A tie at zero-zero usually means the teams are really good,” junior Craven Clark said. “There must have been mistakes made to tie that high.”

The biggest shock so far, was when most popular and favored team to win, France, lost to small team, Tunisia, 1-0. France out played Tunisia, with a higher pass accuracy, shots and possession of the ball. Yet, at the 58’ mark, Wahbi Khazri scored for the Tunisian team. France tied at the 90+9’ but the goal was recalled on the basis of it being offsides, and France lost. Regardless of their loss, France is moving on to the playoff stage as they are still first in Group D with six points and a GD of three.

“I think that France could’ve had a better approach towards the game,” junior Kaitlyn Loivarez said, “they didn’t show all their strengths.”

The first team to be eliminated, ironically, is the home team, Qatar. Canada is also out of the running, along with Mexico, Ecuador, Wales, Iran, Denmark, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia. While some of these teams have defeated big name teams, they failed to garner enough points overall in the grouping to move up.

First up in the playoff bracket is the Netherlands vs the USA, then it’s Argentina vs Australia, France vs Poland, England vs Senegal, and the others are still being decided in the final rounds of group matches.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is sure to be exciting the closer it gets to the finals. Stay tuned to find out the country that will be victorious this year and claim the title of best soccer team in the world.