By Satvik Shubham
The first part of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar has come to an end, and to say the least, football has conquered the political side of this spectacle. With upset after upset, this tournament has certainly not disappointed this year.
GROUP A: Perhaps the least surprising results in this group, with Qatar coming rock bottom, being the first host nation to lose their opening game, and the Netherlands and Senegal are progressing to the next round, despite high quality performances from Enner Valencia and Ecuador as a whole.
GROUP B: Oh, the United States, two goals scored, one goal conceded, through to the knockout stages of the World Cup this year. Impressive, especially when one considers that they are one of the few teams still unbeaten in the tournament. They have managed to make it out by engaging in a shock goalless draw with England. England, as expected, have made it out quite comfortably, despite having a slight blip against the USA and a continuous display showing the lack of ruthlessness in front of goal.
GROUP C: When Argentina lost their opening game against Saudi Arabia, everything in the group was wide open, one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history. However, they quickly picked up form and won their remaining two games to top the group. While the final standings did not end up as shocking, the group’s journey certainly left some with their hearts in their throats.
GROUP D: The dark horses have been shown a light. Denmark, the Euro 2021 dark horses, coming bottom of the group, below Tunisia and Australia, was one of the surprises this year, only collecting one point, with Australia going through level on points with France.
GROUP E: What happened here? Where to get started with this group, Germany, the team with the highest expected goals in the entire competition, only managed a win against Costa Rica. Meanwhile, Japan raised more than a few eyebrows, strangely beating Spain and Germany, but falling short against Costa Rica due to complacent rotation. Well, it is safe to say that the stadiums are not the only setting the Japanese have been cleaning up.
GROUP F: Too old, golden generation over, these are all terms one would hear about this Belgium side, and if you are Kevin De Bruyne, you might as well say it out loud. Morocco, one of the unbeaten sides in this tournament, managed a dominant win against Belgium to secure their place in the round of 16; the latter drew all their cards against Croatia, with the only joker being Romelu Lukaku.
GROUP G: Another group that took it to the final day, with Cameroon triumphing over one of the favorites of the tournament, Brazil, pitching themselves in with a chance of making it to the Round of 16. However, Switzerland had other plans, and while Serbia had a top team on paper, they proved to disappoint. Despite scoring the most goals in the group, the displays against Cameroon and Switzerland exposed the holes in their defense.
GROUP H: Picture this, final day, Portugal has topped the group, Uruguay against Ghana, to decide the other team to progress. Suddenly, South Korea manages to win against Portugal, and they move on instead. This group sums up this World Cup so far as impossible to predict and spontaneously exciting, and anything seems possible in this edition.
From the 75 seconds where Costa Rica and Japan were progressing instead of Spain and Germany to the top nations crashing out early, this World Cup has moved on from its political backlash in swift fashion, providing displays and upsets that belong in the hall of fame when it comes to this tournament.
The author is an aspiring journalist currently studying at Michigan State University.
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