Football World Cup 2022 – the story so far (3)
I confess after having written two installments of my “Football World Cup 2022 – the story so far” (see here and here) mini-series, I hadn’t expected to be doing a third until after the final. But I relent given the football has been of a high standard and a lot better than what I predicted would be the case before the tournament.
Lots have been happening since the end of the group stage that I would like to share before I clear the way for presenting my final thoughts, confident there is lots of footballing drama to come. The good news is most of it is to do with football and not politics. And the football has been better than good, dramatic and entertaining. As for my predictions for the round of 16, I surprisingly got 6 of my 8 predictions right, and with the other two losing after penalties.
Netherlands 3 USA 1
USA did not discredit themselves and played with verve and passion, but were up against a superior team, well able to absorb anything thrown at them, even if by playing their boring brand of football. The three goals scored by Netherlands though were of the highest quality though and their win was deserved and emphatic.
Argentina 2 Australia 1
Again, Argentina did just enough to win, and did so with relative comfort, against a limited albeit spirited Australian side.
France 3 Poland 1
France gave a formidable performance, featuring quality players like MBappe at their best, and turned out to be convincing winners.
England 3 Senegal 0
While some wobbles in the first half hour, after that it was all England, who performed well, team wise and individually, and ended up with a score line that did not flatter them.
Japan 1 Croatia 1 AET
A game of two halves, with Japan doing better in the first half and Croatia better in the second and then winning the penalty shoot-out. the under-rated Japan team was perhaps the find of the tournament with their enthusiastic in your face approach on the field and their refreshing attention to etiquette (both fans and players) off it.
Brazil 4 South Korea 0
The game of the tournament so far, with Brazil turning in a dazzling first half display, with dancing and celebrating to go with it.
Morocco 0 Spain 0 AET
The result at the end was a fair one, with Morocco withstanding everything Spain threw at them. They keep the flag flying for the less fancied sides after a convincing win in the penalty shoot-out.
Portugal 6 Switzerland 1
A great performance by Portugal against an unconvincing Swiss side, to rank along with that of Brazil in terms of entertainment and skill, and seeing their new young hat trick star wonderfully perform.
It seems to have been non-stop football since the start but now we have a two-day break for teams to recuperate and prepare for stiffer challenges to come. From a football lover perspective, these look to be mouth watering ties. As for my quarter finals predictions:
Croatia vs Brazil
I still fancy Brazil, especially after watching their last performance.
Netherlands vs Argentina
A game between two contrasting sides with quality and a hard one to call, although I still go with Argentina.
Morocco vs Portugal
Now on a high Morocco is up against a rejuvenated Portugal side that I reckon have too much quality not to win.
England vs France
The game of the tournament thus far if one is an England fan and featuring two decent sides coming good at the right time. Hopefully, my predicting a France win will turn out to be their kiss of death.