Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals: Winners and losers
Argentina players celebrate World Cup goal against France

By Ori Martins

Every composition usually produces winners and losers – those who laugh and those who wail. In the case of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals, both the winners and losers are represented by country, players and officials. 

Winners:

Lionel Messi

The Argentine captain, certainly, is the hero of the 2022 World Cup Finals, having led his country to the final of the Mundial after doing so eight years ago in Brazil in 2014 where Germany beat Argentina 1 – 0 to win the World Cup. Winning the trophy this time around is a fitting cap to a glorious career that would been incomplete without this elusive cup.

By taking Argentina to the World Cup final and winning it, , Messi had achieved record of another Argentine legend, Diego Maradona whose skills and brilliance enabled Argentina lift the World Cup in Mexico ’86. Maradona equally spectacularly took Argentina to the final of the 1990 World Cup in Italy but lost to Germany, 0 – 1.

Going to the final game against France, Messi had scored five goals and they all played great roles in taking Argentina to the pinnacle of global football glory in Qatar.

Kylian Mbappe

However, Mbappe was the real hero of the competition ahose personal brilliance came to the fire in the final, scoring a hattrick, the first ever in a final. His amazing speed, superb ball control, fantastic dribbling runs and great scoring instincts stood him out as a great player at Qatar.

The Frenchman was always a terror each time he had the ball at the opponents’ vital area as no defender can effectively checkmate him – he either won a free kick, a throw in, a corner kick, penalty or he dribbled, outpaced or took fierce shots and many of them were within target.

Mbappe was in the French team that lifted the World Cup in 2018. Like Messi, he had five goals going into final game and proved himself one of the finest players of the tournament.

Yessine Bounou

It can be argued rightly that the Moroccan goalkeeper was the cynosure of all eyes in the North Africans sensational moments in Qatar.

Beautifully balanced and with his agility and swift reactions to virtually all balls that came to him, the Sevilla of Spain goaltender never conceded any opposition goal untill the crucial semi final encounter against France.

The Moroccan goalkeeper, as a matter of fact, announced his arrival in the epic group game against Belgium where frustrated every move of the Europeans by stopping all their goal bound balls. In the end, Belgium bowed 2 – 0.

Probably, it was in the second round game against Spain that the football world reckoned with the amazing North African shot stopper and his superlative saves.

Having denied the Spanish during the  breathtaking regulation time of 120 minutes, Bonoeu, during the decisive penalty shootout, stopped three of Spain’s kicks and so Morocco zoomed into the quarter finals, where he also ensured he kept a clean slate while his teammates put one in to beat Portugal to reach the semi finals.

Luka Modric

At 37, the   Croatian captain was still a workaholic, agile, mobile and skinful. He struggled for possession as he was in his twenties and covered the field like a teenager.

Play back Croatia’s seven matches and you will discover he had hands in all the goals scored by his side.

Although Croatia never reached the final of the 2022 World Cup Finals, the Real Madrid midfielder footballer proved his class and mettle on why all successive Madrid coaches had always relied on him for the team’s midfield prowess.

If it is remembered that this midfield maestro also took Croatia to the final of the Russia 2018 World Cup Finals and still carried the team to the semi finals and playing for third place, then his place in Qatar will surely be given to him.

Walid Regragui

This result oriented coach has many feats to his record. First African couch to reach the semi final of World Cup Finals. First African coach to get to the semi final of the World Cup Finals and first his team never let in an opposition goal until semi final game.

He worked and improved on the all – men – behind the ball tactics played by Italy at national team level but made popular by Jose Mourinho at club football.

At least, the Moroccan coach has proved that Africans can effectively hold their own in football at the world stage.

Lionel Scaloni

Many do not know that the Argentine coach was assistant to the national team in 2018. He has also handled La Liga teams like Deportivo La Coruna and Racing Santander. He is now a hero in Argentina.

Losers:

Ronaldo

Popularly known as CR7, the Portuguese captain wept profusely upon his team’s elimination from the World Cup by Morocco.

At almost 38, Ronaldo knew it was almost practically an impossibility to return for the next World Cup Finals in the next four years.

More than anything else, the mere fact that the coach kept Ronaldo on the bench for alleged camp misconduct, preferring Ramos, who scored a hat trick in the second round against Switzerland, no doubt, was not well received by the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player.

Again, the failure of Ronaldo to produce any of those of his deadly headers, bullet shots, acrobatic volleys and mesmerizing dribbling runs that have over the years made him the most feared striker currently on global football was a great minus for the former Juventus star.

Ronaldo wept because he failed in Qatar and Portugal crashed. As Ronaldo was named among the losers, his coach was roundly criticized by football exponents back home for not managing Ronaldo well. Thus, he equally failed.

Neymar Santos Junior

An entertainer with raw skills. Nemar is a real Brazilian player to the core – he tenacity for dribbles, goal scoring flair, accurate shooting abilities, acrobatics flair even as he is a set piece expert.

Sadly, except for the fanatic goal he scored against Croatia, The PSG of France striker never re-enacted any of this great attributes that have made him one of the football super stars of this generation.

Like Ronaldo, he wept without end on the fateful night Croatia knocked the Samba Boys out of World Cup.

Virgil van Diyk

All eyes were on him on the quarter final game against Argentina. There were high hopes he would stop Messi. But he did not – Messi scored and set up the second goal. But the game was dragged to penalties. Unfortunately, the Dutch captain who stepped up to take the kick, missed as the ball went into the hands of the Argentine goalkeeper, Martnez.

Louis van Gaal

A fox and an old war horse, Gaal failed the expectations of Dutch football authorities, who disregarded the applications of younger coaches to hand him the national team to prepare and guide for the 2022 World Cup Finals.

Experienced and knowledgeable, Gaal had won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax, and eight years ago, guided the Dutch national team to semi finals. In other words, Gaal still did not do anything fantastic to take his country out of the “underachievers” tag it has come to be known over the years in world football.

Spain and Germany

Both Spain and Germany did not go far in the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals. Both former World Cup and European champions were bundled home quite early.

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