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The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
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The beautiful game in Qatar

Underdogs Morocco and Croatia take on the titans from France and Argentina in the semifinals. The U.S. fared well, but was eliminated in the Round of 16 by The Netherlands.
©HAWKEYE image credit: Lucas Barquin

As we kick-off the semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, here’s a recap of its most shocking and impressive moments, filled with details of all the upsets, surprise wins and devastating defeats, with plenty of the most iconic goals of the tournament detailed along the way. 

This year’s World Cup has provided plenty of interesting historical records, being the first World Cup to have teams from all six qualified continents enter the knockout stages. It’s also the most expensive World Cup in the history of soccer, with Qatar spending roughly $220 billion on World Cup infrastructure as the first Middle Eastern nation to host the most watched tournament on the planet. On a negative note, Qatar is also the first host nation to lose all of its three group stage matches in Group A.

If there was one main theme early on in the World Cup, it would be the underdogs coming out on top. Eyes locked and mouths agape at the TV screen, the whole world gasped as Saudi Arabia triumphed 2-1 over the third-best team on the planet, Argentina. It was described as “the biggest shock in the tournament’s long history.” One of those two historic goals was scored by Saudi Arabian player Salem Al-Dawsari, who displayed incredible footwork and ball control to pass four defenders and scored a powerful curler to the right side of the net. This stunning victory truly launched the 2022 World Cup into one that would break historic records and preconceptions, and also foreshadowed surprising victory for the Arabic world later in the tournament despite Saudi Arabia later failing to make it out of the group stage.

Japan was also a big standout during this tournament, beating Germany and Spain to top Group E in the group stage of the tournament, although they did end up losing out to Croatia on penalty kicks in the round of 16. In their 2-1 victory against Germany, Japanese player Takuma Asama would slot the ball past the goalkeeper while being chased down by a larger defender at an almost 180 degree angle. South Korea also had a shocking victory against Portugal in the group stage, although they would end up losing to Brazil 4-1 in the round of 16.

Senegal was favored as Africa’s best hope to become the 2022 World Cup winners, especially since this year was their first qualification for the World Cup as the champions of the Africa Cup of Nations, out of three qualifications since 2002. They had a victory against Ecuador 2-1 in Group A, but lost out to England 3-0 in the round of 16, still marking an impressive run. In the group stage, Cameroon had a surprise late victory 1-0 against tournament favorite Brazil with a header from Cameroonian player Vincent Aboubakar, but was eliminated from Group G, ranking in third place. Another stellar goal from Aboubakar took place in Cameroon vs. Serbia, where he used masterful footwork to avoid a Serbian defender and lob the ball into the net while the Serbian goalkeeper was out of the range of the goal.

There were also some shocking defeats taking place this year, such as Germany bombing out of the group stage for the second time since 2018, ranking third in Group E, a concerning position for the team ever since their win of the World Cup in 2014. These disappointing outcomes can be attributed to aging stars and inexperienced newbies, creating an uneven squad that wasn’t prepared for this competitive tournament.

Brazil, the first-ranked team in the world, losing to Croatia in the quarter finals on penalty kicks left the world in awe of what they had witnessed. They were doing quite well for themselves this season and were favored to take a sixth world cup home, only losing to Cameroon from games against Switzerland, Serbia and South Korea. One of the most iconic (and photogenic!) goals of the tournament so far, and perhaps of all time, was scored by Brazilian player Richarlison in their game against Serbia, featuring Richarlison making a stunning scissor kick into the net to further their lead 2-0. Another flashy goal of the tournament was also scored by Richarlison in their game against South Korea, which Brazil won 4-1. It featured him seal-dribbling the ball three times, then juggling it before triangle passing to his other teammates and shooting the ball past the goalkeeper into the bottom left corner.

Perhaps the most surprising flop at the World Cup was Belgium not making it past the group stage, finishing in third place in Group F despite ranking second in the World Cup listings. In previous tournaments, the talented group has made it to the quarterfinals in 2014 and to the semifinals in 2018, but has struggled to win or make it to the finals, held back by a collection of world-class players but not a cohesive team.

All of these upsets are rightfully significant and historic, but the true highlight of the tournament has to be Morocco making it to the semifinals after winning against Portugal 1-0, reigning over such talented teams such as Belgium and Canada in the group stage, as well as Spain in the round of 16. Their performance stupefied the Arabic world and left those who wanted to see Christiano Ronaldo and Portugal play against Lionel Messi and Argentina in tears. They change history as the first African and Arabic team to make it to the semifinals ever, trailblazing the path forward for more teams that aren’t from South America or Europe to succeed in the tournament. If Morocco were to win this tournament, it could change the landscape of soccer forever.

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Their goals cementing their place in the history books include two from Hakim Ziyech, one of those from Morocco vs. Canada, where he caught the Canadian goalkeeper off guard when out of the goalpost area to kick a long-range shot in. The other one of his goals was in Morocco vs. Spain, which they won on penalty kicks 3-0, lobbing the ball into the left side of the net.

Accompanying Morocco in the semifinals are Croatia, mentioned earlier in their victory against Brazil, France, winning against England in the quarterfinals, and Argentina, beating the Netherlands. Croatia will play against Argentina and Morocco will play against France. France will be a tough team to beat, especially since they contain the top goal scorer in the tournament, Kylian Mbappe, with five so far. Two of his goals were scored in France vs. Poland, won by France 3-1, showing off his talents by shooting two powerful curling shots into the net from the side.

As for the young U.S. team, they made great strides making it to the Round of 16 before bowing out to The Netherlands 3-1. This was a significant improvement over 2018 when the Americans failed to qualify at all for the World Cup. The 2026 games, by the way, will be hosted in North American – including some games at Lumen Field.

A lot of factors have contributed to the shocking successes in this year’s World Cup, most prominently the decision to move the World Cup to December due to Qatar’s climate, meaning teams only had about a week to prepare for the tournament. Teams that had players in leagues in other places of the world struggled to form a cohesive unit, while teams with players mostly in only one country thrived early on but lost some momentum later in the game. The lack of preparation led to not enough rest and physical preparation for everyone, but also leveled out the playing field for all teams, letting underdog teams find opportunities to beat bigger and favored teams in a true David vs. Goliath situation.

All of these shocks have set the stage for the semifinals, with Croatia facing off against Argentina and Morocco facing off against France on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

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About the Contributors
Efrata Solomon
Efrata Solomon, Photo Editor
Photo Editor Efrata Solomon is a junior at MTHS and in her second year of journalism. She joined journalism in order to engage more with school activities and find a community of like-minded people, as well as learn about newspaper production. Outside of journalism, Efrata hopes to pursue a career in forensic biotechnology to exonerate those wrongfully convicted. She also participates in TSA, HOSA, Girls Who Code, orchestra and NHS, and her hobbies include completing puzzles, reading, hiking, going to local concerts, thrifting, and spending her money on overpriced boba.
Lucas Barquin
Lucas Barquin, News Editor
Lucas Barquin joined HSM because he enjoyed writing and wanted to join a group where he could continue writing with others. Lucas’ goal is to write about important topics, and to make every student feel seen and heard. In his free time Lucas enjoys drawing, listening to music and playing D&D. His post high school plans are to attend an art school for graphic design and illustration.
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