The 2022 edition of the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar has entered the tournament’s knockout stages. The one-month-long competition has seen dramatic sporting upsets, the likes of which no one had anticipated in the months and years preceding this controversial edition of the biggest sporting event in the world.
France’s football phenom Kylian Mbappe leads the way in goals in the tournament with five scored so far across the defending champions’ four games played, causing havoc for his opponents with his speed and ball-handling abilities. At only 23 years old, Mbappe was awarded with being the Best Young Player of the 2018 edition of the tournament in Russia where France beat Croatia in the final 4-2 to lift their second-ever World Cup title. The center-forward player has already equaled the tally of goals scored in World Cup matches by legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in half the time. It is likely that he will break more records as he continues to display his role as arguably the most talented soccer player of this current generation of young stars beginning to enter the prime of their careers.
In the 2018 final Mbappe became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Brazilian icon Pelé had done so himself in the 1958 edition. Based on his current form and the precedent that France has set regarding star soccer talent, it would not be a surprise if Kylian Mbappe breaks records once set by Pelé.
Argentine legend Lionel Messi is competing in what is his final FIFA World Cup. At 35 years old, Messi, also known as “La Pulga” or “The Flea,” continues to pull wonders for his nation, bouncing back from a shocking opening match defeat to Saudi Arabia with statement wins against Mexico and Poland. The Argentinian captain will step up against the well-drilled and talented Netherlands team led by Dutch coaching veteran Louis Van Gaal, tackling his next obstacle on his quest for the World Cup trophy that eluded him in Brazil 2014 and has been yearned for since Diego Maradona last brought the cup home in 1986.
Team USA’s run in Qatar came to an unfortunate end on Saturday as they were dispatched and outplayed by the Netherlands, an experienced and skilled soccer team. The USA lost their knockout stage game 1-3 against the well-coached Dutch team that was ready for the do-or-die circumstances of the elimination rounds. Despite their defeat, many remain optimistic about the potential and heights that the United States Men’s Soccer program can reach in the future.
With the USA playing on home soil for the next edition of the tournament in 2026 and more young stars emerging from American and European academies every year, it is certainly still a very exciting time to support team USA. A sizable portion of this tournament’s young starting players will have gained much more playing experience and ability by 2026 and will all be in the prime of their respective soccer careers.
Frontman and Hershey, Pennsylvania hometown hero Christian Pulisic made it clear in the final game against Iran to his American supporters on his social media that this is not the end of their story as a team. “We’ll be back,” the UEFA Champions League winner said.
South Korea had pulled off an incredible come-from-behind victory against Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese team to reach their first knockout round since 2010, and they had also eliminated Uruguay and Luis Suárez, who were supposed to be moving on to the next round after their victory against Ghana. Some fans see this as Suarez’s karma for competing in his final tournament after an infamous incident against Ghana in 2010 where he was sent off for blocking a goal with his hands, debatably causing the elimination of Ghana as they failed to convert the ensuing penalty kick. The quarterfinals swiftly approach as Croatia goes up against Brazil and the Netherlands compete with Argentina on Friday, Dec. 9, respectively. The final day of the quarterfinals will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10 when Morocco and Portugal go head to head with England versus France following suit. For more information on match scheduling and how to tune in, refer to the official FIFA website.