The FIFA World Cup is officially over, with Argentina being crowned champions after beating France in the greatest World Cup final ever. Before the start of the World Cup, I made my predictions on who would advance from the group stage all the way to who would win, as well as the individual awards. Here is my World Cup review, dissecting what happened through the lens of my pre-tournament predictions in four different categories.
I Told You So
Now taking a look back at my predictions, I didn’t get everything right. However, there are a couple of predictions where I will say “I told you so.” Here are some of my predictions that I nailed right on the head.
An African Team Reaching the Semifinals
As one of my big headlines entering the tournament, I posed the question of whether or not it would be the time for an African nation to finally make it to the semifinals of the World Cup. My answer to that question was yes. I ended up going with Senegal and hoping that they, particularly Sadio Mane, would be healthy. That didn’t happen, but Morocco surprised everyone by making it all the way to the semifinals of the World Cup, topping a group that included Belgium and Croatia, as well as knocking out both Spain and Portugal on their way to making history. Unfortunately for them, they ran into France in the semifinals, losing 2-0, and then losing 2-1 to Croatia in the third place game. However, it was an amazing, history making tournament for Morocco.
Enzo Fernandez Winning Young Player Of The Tournament
As someone who is extremely high on Enzo Fernandez, I was hoping Argentina would give him the chance to start from the first game. That wasn’t the case, but Fernandez forced his way into the starting lineup after being key against Mexico in a performance that included scoring a world class goal. From there on, it was all aboard the Argentinian train, as Fernandez and Alexis Mac Allister being slotted into the lineup changed the dynamic of the team, helping turn the tide after a stunning opening game loss to Saudi Arabia. Fernandez is now one of the most wanted players in Europe, and his price tag has only risen after a stellar World Cup.
Argentina Winning The World Cup
When I predicted Argentina would win the World Cup, I did it for two reasons. One, I felt that they had enough talent and were good enough to win it. Two, I felt that it would be a great story for Messi and I would love to see it happen. It wasn’t the easiest road for Argentina to win the World Cup. The opening loss to Saudi Arabia was a stunner, and there were more worries when their game against Mexico remained 0-0 until the 64th minute. However, Argentina did what they needed to do, defeating Mexico and Poland to advance and then continuing their winning ways in the knockout rounds. They eliminated Australia, then survived against the Netherlands in a game where they threw away a 2-0 lead before knocking out Croatia to make the finals. The final against France was an all time classic which saw Argentina once again blow a 2-0 lead, then take a 3-2 lead in extra time, only to give up a penalty kick that Kylian Mbappe scored to tie it at 3-3. Then, Emi Martinez had to make a superb save to get the game to penalty kicks, where Argentina put France away 4-2.
Almost Got It
It’s great to look back at some of the predictions I nailed, but there were also some that I was pretty close on, even if they weren’t 100% spot on. Here are the predictions that I almost got right.
Morocco Advancing from the Group Stage
Heading into the World Cup, we all knew there would be upsets in the group stage and not every team that was expected to advance would make it through. Being in a group with Belgium, Croatia, and Canada, it seemed like Morocco had their work cut out for them. However, I picked them to finish second in the group. Not only did Morocco achieve the goal of advancing from the group stage, they were the Cinderella team of the tournament, winning the group and making it all the way to the semifinals. It was a stellar tournament for Morocco, and one of the highlights was Madrid-born Moroccan international Achraf Hakimi knocking Spain out with the winning penalty kick in the round of 16.
Japan Advancing From The Group Stage
In another group that had two definitive favorites, it appeared that Japan would have to finish above either Germany or Spain to reach the group stage. However, Japan didn’t only advance from the group, they won it, just like Morocco. And what was even crazier is that at one point there was a legitimate possibility of Japan and Costa Rica knocking out both Spain and Germany. Unfortunately for Japan, they got matched up with eventual third place finishers Croatia in the round of 16, where they were beat on penalty kicks.
Just Missed It
I feel I did a solid overall job with my predictions, but there were some that I just missed out on getting correct. Here are the predictions that I just missed out on.
Spain Getting Knocked Out of the Group Stage
When I made my predictions, I had a feeling that either Spain or Germany would get knocked out in the group stage. I decided to pick Germany, essentially off a coin flip. I couldn’t decide which one to pick, so I picked Spain to get knocked out over Germany just because Germany was knocked out at the group stage in 2018 and it would be hard to believe them going home early two times in a row. However, it wasn’t Spain who went home early, but Germany who were knocked out on goal differential. Spain did move on, only to get knocked out in the round of 16 on penalty kicks. So overall, although I got this wrong, it wasn’t horribly wrong.
Croatia Finishing Last In Group F
This one is pretty bad. As I predicted, Croatia got off to a not ideal start with a draw against Morocco, but part of the reason this prediction didn’t go well is how bad Belgium played. I picked Belgium to win the group, and they just didn’t show up. I picked Croatia to be eliminated because if they didn’t win against Belgium, I figured they’d be behind the eight-ball since Belgium was likely to beat Canada. I figured Croatia would need to get a win in the last match plus some luck in order to advance, but they exceeded my expectations. Croatia made it all the way to the semifinals, winning the third place game after losing to Argentina. However, they did take out tournament favorites Brazil in the quarterfinals on penalty kicks.
France Finishing Second in Group Stage, Getting Knocked Out in the Round Of 16
Heading into the World Cup, one of the big storylines was if France could break the World Cup winners’ curse. Since 2002, only one previous World Cup winner has made it out of the group stage, and that was Brazil in 2006. France started it in 2002, then it continued with Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014, and Germany in 2018. France was missing stars such as N’golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and eventually Karim Benzema (although his absence wasn’t reported until after I made my predictions), which I thought that would hurt them in the long run. I predicted that France would finish second in the group and have to face Argentina in the round of 16, resulting in a quick elimination. France ended up winning the group and making it all the way to the final, where they did lose to Argentina, which is the only thing that saved this from being filed in the next category of predictions.
I knew I would get some predictions wrong, but I ended up making a couple that turned out to be absolutely horrific. Here are the absolute worst of my World Cup predictions.
Uruguay Making The World Cup Final
This one didn’t age well. Uruguay didn’t even make it out of their group, finishing third behind Portugal and South Korea. I felt that Uruguay was one of those teams that would either flame out early or surprise people and make a deep run into the tournament. I picked the second option, which clearly didn’t happen. An opening match draw against South Korea wasn’t an ideal way to start off the tournament, and a 2-0 loss to Portugal definitely didn’t help. Uruguay gave themselves a lifeline by beating Ghana in their final game of the group stage, but they were knocked out due to scoring less goals than South Korea.
Darwin Nunez Winning The Golden Boot
If you thought my Uruguay prediction was bad, here is the second part of it. Darwin Nunez seemed to be in good form heading into the World Cup, and if Uruguay was going to be successful, I felt that he would need to be their main goal scorer. However, Uruguay only scored 2 goals in their three games, both coming in their final group stage game against Ghana. Neither of those goals were scored by Darwin Nunez. Nunez ended the world cup with 0 goals and a yellow card. Talk about a bad prediction. That one takes the cake.
Last but not least, lets not forget about the star of the World Cup: Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi Is The G.O.A.T.
The debate for who is the greatest of all time between Messi and Ronaldo is over, with Messi leading Argentina to a World Cup title. Throughout his career, the World Cup had always been the one thing missing from Messi’s trophy cabinet, but not anymore. Plus, Messi capped it off by winning the best player of the tournament as well. In what seems to be his last World Cup, it was a storybook ending for Messi. Argentina not only played for their country, they played for Messi: their hero, their captain, their leader.
All in all, it is hard to predict what will happen in a World Cup. Some things you’ll get right, other things you’ll swing and miss on. But that’s the fun in it.
Overall the 2022 World Cup was one of the best we’ve seen in terms of on-field play, culminating with the greatest World Cup final in history between the two best teams in the world and the best player to ever do it getting his crowning moment as a World Cup champion.