BEST 2022 World Cup Moments From a Memorable and Exciting Group Stage

BEST 2022 World Cup Moments From a Memorable and Exciting Group Stage

It doesn’t matter what country you live in or represent, the only thing anyone is talking about right now is the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It’s a football tournament that only comes once every four years and draws more global viewers than the Olympics – both the summer and winter. Some might say it’s a big deal. 

There have been 21 World Cup tournaments since 1930 – this year being the 22nd – and while 79 nations have had an opportunity at being named world champions, only eight of those nations have done so. A majority of that history includes Brazil, who are winners of five World Cups – the most all-time. 

Behind Brazil stands Italy and Germany, each with four titles. Argentina, Uruguay, and France have two titles each, while England and Spain have each won one World Cup final. With the 2022 Group Stage complete and the knockout stage underway, only time will tell who will be crowned champions in 2022.

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Our Favorite World Cup Moments So Far This Year

BEST 2022 World Cup Moments From a Memorable and Exciting Group Stage
via Instagram (@fifaworldcup)

The 2022 World Cup Group Stage was one of the most exciting and shocking group stages in World Cup history – both fans and experts agree. It featured 32 teams (8 groups with 4 teams each) for the final time before increasing the field to 48 teams – which will only shake things up even more in future World Cups. 

The group stage came to an end on December 2 with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout stage. Those teams were the Netherlands, Senegal, England, United States, Spain, Japan, Argentina, Poland, France, Australia, Morocco, Croatia, Brazil, Switzerland, Portugal, and South Korea. 

With the knockout stage set to feature plenty of World Cup moments of its own, let’s take a quick look back at some of the most memorable and exciting moments from the group stage. With 48 games to sift through, we’re going to narrow it down to our top 15 moments that we’ll remember for quite some time. 

15. Saudi Arabia Defeats Argentina

On November 22nd, Saudi Arabia shocked the world when they defeated Argentina 2-1 in the first Group C match of the week. With more than 88,000 fans in attendance at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, Saudi Arabia overcame a 0-1 deficit after Lionel Messi scored the opening goal off a PK in the 10th minute. 

It was Saleh Al-Shehri who opened up the scoring for Saudi Arabia, a goal that came in the 48th minute – just a few minutes after halftime. Five minutes later, Salem Al-Dawsari scored to give Saudi Arabia a 2-1 lead, which they ran away with. It was Saudi Arabia’s only win of the World Cup, but it was a shocker. 

14. Japan Defeats Germany

On November 23rd, with everyone still in shock after Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina, Japan decided to join in on the fun with a 2-1 upset of their own – this one over Germany. It was a thriller, with Germany taking a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute and holding that 1-0 lead all the way up to the 75th minute.

Then Japan came alive. Ritsu Doan knotted the game at 1-1 in the 75th minute and Takuma Asano followed it up with a goal of his own in the 83rd minute – giving Japan the 2-1 lead. Germany being one of the favorites heading into the World Cup, no one expected Japan to do what they did, especially so late. 

13. Japan Defeats Spain

Japan went on to lose their second match, but returned with another stunner in Game 3 – a 2-1 win over Spain. They, once again, overcame an early 0-1 deficit with Spain drawing first blood in the 11th minute of the game. Japan would go the rest of the first half without registering a goal, looking to make a comeback. 

And they did exactly that. Ritsu Doan again acted as the stimulant, knotting the game at 1-1 with a goal in the 48th minute – just minutes after the second half began. Much like their win against Germany, Japan followed Doan’s goal with a second goal just minutes after, this one coming in the 51st minute. 

12. Morocco Defeats Belgium

On November 27th, Morocco was searching for a Cinderella win of their own against Belgium, one of the best teams this year. Morocco was coming off a tie with Croatia, while Belgium was fresh off a win vs. Canada. The game was scoreless for 73 minutes, but then Morocco ended the silence to take a 1-0 lead. 

Morocco scored a dagger in the 92nd minute to complete the upset. It was the country’s first win at the World Cup since 1998 and it gave them the momentum to win their second straight a few days later vs. Canada. Their two wins in the group stage were enough to advance to the knockout stage. 

11. Tunisia Defeats France

We’re not done with the upsets. On November 30th, Tunisia stunned France with a 1-0 win in Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan with more than 41,000 fans in attendance. It was the final game of the Group D stage, giving Tunisia their first and only win of the 2022 World Cup – failing to advance to the KO round.

It was a goal by Wahbi Khazri in the 58th minute that gave Tunisia the victory. And while some people are discrediting the win since France was playing their backups – they had already secured their ticket to the next round, even with a loss – it was still a shocking and stunning win for a team not expected to prevail. 

10. Cameroon Defeats Brazil

Alright, we have one more upset, this one occurring on December 2nd in the Group G stage. It was Cameroon who came away with an upset over Brazil, one of the greatest teams in World Cup history. Brazil was coming off back-to-back wins to start the 2022 World Cup, while Cameroon had a loss and tie.

The two teams were at a standstill the entire match – until extra time, that is. In the 92nd minute of the match, Vincent Aboubakar scored a goal to give Cameroon the 1-0 lead. Brazil didn’t have an answer, giving Cameroon their first win since 2002. Unfortunately, the win wasn’t enough for Cameroon to advance.

9. Guardado, Ronaldo, and Messi Make History

The 2022 World Cup has already proven to be special in a variety of ways, but we’d be wrong to not highlight three players that made history when they took to the field for their first games of the tournament. Those players are Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Lionel Messi (Argentina), and Andres Guardado (Mexico). 

So, what did they do, exactly? These men are making their fifth appearance at a World Cup – something that has only been done by five other players in World Cup History. They join Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Lothar Matthaus (Germany), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico), and Gianluigi Buffon (Italy). 

8. Gavi Becomes Youngest Spaniard to Score a Goal in World Cup

Pablo Martín Páez Gavira, also known as Gavi, is an 18-year-old Spanish footballer who made his debut for Spain on October 6, 2021 – becoming the youngest player to represent Spain at the senior level. He scored his first goal with the team in June 2022, becoming the youngest to score for Spain at the senior level. 

When Gavi was announced as a starter for the World Cup, he knew he had an opportunity to make more Spanish history – which he did. During a 7-0 rout of Costa Rica on November 23rd, Gavi scored a goal in the 74th minute, making him the youngest Spainiard to ever score a goal for Spain in the World Cup. 

7. Giroud Ties Henry’s Record for Most Goals in French History

Entering the 2022 World Cup, one of the biggest storylines was Olivier Giroud being just two goals away from tying Thierry Henry for most international goals in French history. At the tournament’s start, Giroud had 49 career goals for France and Henry (who retired in 2010) had 51 career goals for France. 

In his team’s first game, Giroud didn’t waste any time in tying the record. He scored a goal in the 32nd minute and 71st minute of their game against Australia, bringing him to 51 career goals. While he failed to score in the next two games, he now has an opportunity to score his 52nd goal in the knockout stage. 

6. Poland’s Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny Has Been Dominant

There were several players that stood out in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup – including Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, Cody Gakpo, and Marcus Rashford. With that said, no one had a more impressive group stage than Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny. He was by far the best player. 

He played an instrumental role in the team finishing the group stage 1-1-1 and advancing to the knockout stage. He had two clean sheets, two penalty saves (one coming against Lionel Messi), and finished the stage with 18 total saves – the most in the tournament so far. He is putting his team on his back.  

5. Qatar Breaks a 92-Year World Cup Streak

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, expectations were high from the very beginning – not because they’re a good team that was expected to do well, but because of the long-standing history of host teams playing well at the World Cup. For example, no host nation has ever lost their first game of the tourney. 

It was a streak that stood for 92 years until Qatar ruined it on November 20th with a 2-0 loss to Ecuador. Qatar followed that up with a 3-1 loss to Senegal on November 25th and 2-0 loss to Netherlands on November 29th. Unfortunately, their exit was the earliest exit by a host team in World Cup history. 

4. Spain Defeats Costa Rica 7-0

Earlier, we talked about Gavi becoming the youngest Spainiard to score a World Cup goal. The goal came in a 7-0 rout of Costa Rica, which is incredible in its own right – being the biggest blowout of the 2022 World Cup Group Stage. Their seven goals was also the most scored by one team in a single game. 

Six different players scored for Spain – Dani Olmo (11′), Marco Asensio (21′), Ferran Torres (31′ PEN, 54′), Gavi (74′), Carlos Soler (90′), and Álvaro Morata (90’+2′). Torres led the way with two goals as Spain started the group stage off with a win. Two days before this game, England had a 6-2 win vs. Iran. 

3. Senegal Makes African History at World Cup

Senegal opened their 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 loss to Netherlands, but that was their only loss of the group stage. They followed that up with a 3-1 win vs. Qatar and 2-1 win over Ecuador as they emerged as Africa’s best shot at a World Cup title – albeit slim – as they punched their ticket to the knockout stage. 

It was a historic ticket, too. Senegal became the first African nation to advance to the Round of 16 since 2014. It’s Senegal’s third World Cup appearance – first appearing in 2002, when they reached the quarterfinals. They went 16 years without a World Cup appearance, but have now played two World Cups in a row. 

2. Bale Scores Wales’ First World Cup Goal Since 1958

The 2022 World Cup was bound to be historic for the country of Wales. The nation was making just their second World Cup appearance – their first coming back in 1958. That’s right, this was a Wales team that hasn’t been in the World Cup in 64 years! In the 1958 World Cup, Wales made it to the quarterfinals. 

They didn’t have that type of success in this year’s World Cup, finishing the Group Stage with a 0-1-2 record. While they were outscored 0-5 in the final two games, it was a goal by Gareth Bale in the first game that sent Wales into a frenzy. His PK goal in the 82nd minute was the first World Cup goal for the country in 64 years!

1. This Crazy Goal for Brazil by Richarlison

That brings us to the final moment worth talking about from the 2022 World Cup Group Stage and what better way to bring this list to an end than with one of the most impressive goals scored in the group stage. It was a goal by Richarlison of Brazil on November 24th in their first game against Serbia. 

It was a 2-0 win for Brazil, both goals coming from Richarlison. His first goal came in the 62nd minute, but he didn’t wait long to notch his second – a beauty of a goal that came in the 71st minute. After receiving a pass from the side, Richarlison props the ball up to himself and completes a bicycle kick into the net. 

There’s Plenty More World Cup Moments to Come!

I don’t know about you, but I think this knockout stage is going to be off the chain. The field has already been narrowed down to 16 teams and by the time the knockout stage is complete – December 6 – that field will be down to just eight. Before you know it, we’ll be crowning the newest World Cup champion. 

The knockout stage begins with the United States vs. Netherlands, followed by Argentina vs. Australia, Japan vs. Croatia, Brazil vs. South Korea, England vs. Senegal, France vs. Poland, Morocco vs. Spain, and Portugal vs. Switzerland. Fans will get to watch two games per day for the next four days – woo!

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The quarterfinals will begin on December 9th after a three-day break and conclude on December 10th. The semifinals, which will see the field narrowed down to four teams, will take place on December 13th and 14th. Finally, the third place play-off final and World Cup final is scheduled for December 17th and 18th, respectively.

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