Photo: The FIFA World Cup 2022
After nearly a month of matches putting 32 qualifying countries against each other, the final four games of the world’s most popular sporting event, The FIFA World Cup, arrived. The renowned football (soccer) tournament brought the top four countries (France, Argentina, Morocco, and Croatia) to the semifinals on December 13 and December 14. The quadrennial tournament came to an end on December 18, 2022, putting the winners of the two semifinal games against each other for the FIFA World Cup champion title. Here are the results of the final four games:
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SEMI-FINAL | Tuesday, December 13, 2022: Argentina VS Croatia
The first semi-final game matched Argentina against Croatia. Argentina is one of the front runners in the tournament every year. With being home to the football legend, Lionel Messi, Argentina posed a big threat to all competitors in the tournament. Croatia, having been the runner-up of the last World Cup in 2018 (losing to France), was another formidable contestant and strong team throughout the tournament as well.
Croatia maintained possession of the ball for the majority of the game, so it came as a shocker that the team was not able to score a goal, despite the 12 shots attempted. Argentina scored their first goal at the 34th-minute mark from Lionel Messi. Adding two more goals to their total at the 39th minute and the 69th minute from Julián Álvarez, the final score of the game came out to 3-0, letting Argentina advance to the finals and eliminating Croatia from the tournament. This is the sixth time that Argentina has made it to the finals.
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SEMI-FINAL | Wednesday, December 14, 2022: France VS Morocco
The second semi-final game put France against Morocco. France held the champion title, having won the World Cup in 2018. Additionally, France has an emerging football superstar Kylian Mbappé, who is only 23 years old and has set many records in his career already. Morocco has won FIFA Africa Cups, a FIFA Arab Cup, and has participated in the FIFA World Cup six times. Despite never winning the World Cup before, they remained undefeated in the 2022 World Cup until this game.
Morocco maintained possession of the ball for most of the game but was unable to score a goal. France scored two goals. One goal was scored by Theo Hernández at the 5th-minute mark and the second goal was scored by Randal Kolo Muani at the 79th minute. With a final score of 2-0, France advanced to the final, and Morocco was eliminated from the tournament. This is France’s fourth time reaching the finals in the World Cup. This is also the first time a country has reached the finals in back-to-back World Cups since 2002.
THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF | Saturday, December 17, 2022: Morocco VS Croatia
To decide which nation places third in the tournament, the two losing teams from each of the semi-final games face off. Morocco, having lost to France, and Croatia, having lost to Argentina, had an enticing match with what seemed like a game that was going to end in a tie. Croatia gained a point after Joško Gvardiol scored a goal in the 7th minute. Shortly after, Morocco gained a point at the 9th-minute mark from Achraf Dari.
With both teams maintaining an almost equal possession percentage, the game seemed like it could end either way or in a tie. To break the tie, Mislav Oršić scored a goal for team Croatia in the 42nd minute. Morocco, unable to score any more goals, ultimately lost. The final score was 2-1, naming Croatia the nation placing third in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
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FINAL | Sunday, December 18, 2022: Argentina VS France
Football fans could not have asked for a more exhilarating final game. A game so enticing it seemed it was the final game in a soccer movie. Argentina versus France had two possible outcomes in terms of adding to one of two players’ records. In the case that Argentina won, it would be a victory for Lionel Messi’s final World Cup, as he is expected to not participate after 2022. In the case that France won, it would mean that it would be Kylian Mbappé’s second World Cup victory at the young age of 23 years old. Argentina and France have both won two World Cup’s each, so this game was going to determine which nation would take home the FIFA solid gold trophy for the third time.
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The game started with a lead for Argentina. Lionel Messi scored a penalty kick goal in the 23rd minute and Ángel Di María scored another goal in the 36th minute. Argentina was holding the lead until Mbappé scored two back-to-back goals in the 80th and 81st minute. Heading into overtime due to the tie, Lionel Messi scored another goal but Mbappé scored his third goal shortly after. Mbappé became the first player since 1966 to score a hat-trick (three goals by one player in a match) in the World Cup. With overtime ending in a tie, the match moved on to a penalty kick shootout. Ultimately, the shootout ended with Argentina scoring 4 while France only scored 2. With a final score of 4-2 from the penalty kick shootout, Argentina emerged as the victorious nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making this their first win since 1986, their third win overall, and a victory for Messi’s final World Cup.
Awards: Golden Boot, Golden Glove, and Golden Ball
With the hat-trick putting Mbappé at eight total goals scored in the tournament, Kylian Mbappé was awarded the Golden Boot, which is given to the player that scored the most goals total in the year’s World Cup. The Golden Glove was given to Emiliano Martínez, the goalie for Argentina. The Golden Glove is awarded to the best goalkeeper, and Emiliano Martínez earned that title through his skills that prevented France from ever gaining the lead in the final match. The Golden Ball was awarded to Lionel Messi, meaning that he was decided to be the best player at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Messi also won this award in 2014.
By Nino Vongphachanh
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