For the first time in the history of the Men’s FIFA World Cup history that three Asian sides (AFC) – Japan, Australia, and South Korea made it to the knockout stage. The Asian and African sides showcased stunning performances on the Group stage and one of the most thrilling group stages at a World Cup came to an end on December 2, Friday.
Some big names like Germany and Belgium were crushed out early from the tournament and the Round of 16 fixtures were confirmed.
The teams qualified for the Round of 16 are the Netherlands, USA, Argentina, Australia, Japan, Croatia, Brazil, South Korea, France, Poland, England, Senegal, Morocco, Spain, Portugal & Switzerland.
With an Arab country hosting the big event, controversies surrounded the FIFA World Cup 2022. However, once the tournament started, the focus shifted to football and the football fans experienced a non-stop thrilling ride. The most thrilling and tangled ride of the 47 matches of the Group stage ended with a bang on Friday.
There were upsets before the Round of 16 fixtures were confirmed. Many powerhouses were Shaken in the tournament and Asian and African sides scripted history. The African sides proved that they have grown as a force.
Also, for the first time since 1994, no team in the Group stage has won all three group games. The 4-time champions Germany suffered a shocking exit in Qatar and this is the second time Germany exited the World Cup in the Group stage.
The 2018 Russia World Cup semi-finalists Belgium also showed the door to exit early. Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ has been over as an aging Belgium lost against Morocco.
Qatar became the second host nation to exit in the Group stage of the big event. In the final match, Qatar outplayed the Dutch and created the record of being the 1st ever host nation failing to get a point in the Group stage, losing all matches.
Saudi Arabia started producing upsets in the Group stage beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the opening match.
After the win against Ecuador, Senegal became the first African nation to advance to the Round of 16 since 2014. In 2018, Senegal suffered a heartbreak as they were knocked out of the tournament based on disciplinary record.
Morocco also flew the African flag higher, finishing the 2018 runners-up Croatia and Belgium in Group F.
Japan proved to be an outstanding team in the World Cup, beating the former champions Spain and Germany in the Group stage even though they lost to Costa Rica.
Australia has won the matches against Tunisia and Denmark to score 6 points in Group D to advance to the next round.
South Korea defeated Ronaldo’s Portugal in the final match 2-1 and with the goal difference, paved the way for Group 16.
The final day of the Group stage was a shocking one. The giants Portugal and Brazil who won the first two matches and are the first in the group had a shocking failure against South Korea and Cameroon respectively. Cameroon is the first African team to beat Brazil in a World Cup.
If the same thrill of the Group Stage continues in the knockout stage also, then there will be a spectacular show in Qatar in the coming days.
ROUND OF 16 FIXTURES AT FIFA WORLD CUP 2022
- Netherlands vs USA: December 3 at 8:30 pm IST
- Argentina vs Australia: December 4 at 12:30 am IST
- France vs Poland: December 4 at 8:30 pm IST
- England vs Senegal: December 5 at 12:30 am IST
- Japan vs Croatia: December 5 at 8:30 pm IST
- Brazil vs South Korea: December 6 at 12:30 am IST
- Morocco vs Spain: December 6 at 8:30 pm IST
- Portugal vs Switzerland: December 7 at 12:30 am IST
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