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Whatever the ending, FIFA World Cup in Qatar duly delivered | Football News

A FIFA World Cup that has defied all expectations reaches its climax on Sunday when Lionel Messi might be part of Diego Maradona in Argentine immortality by taking the south Americans to the title or France might turn into the primary nation to retain it since 1962.
Both eventualities can be an acceptable last act to the primary World Cup staged in an Arab nation.
But no matter occurs, a match ridiculed within the build-up and which started just a little awkwardly delivered an exhilarating rollercoaster journey that even the cynics leapt on board.
Millions of phrases had been written criticising the selection of Qatar as host to the world’s second-largest sports activities occasion and the talk will proceed lengthy after the final ball is kicked.
But for a month the so-called lovely sport did, within the phrases of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, unfold some pleasure.

The marquee names of Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo delivered storylines. Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Tunisia delivered shocks. New heroes emerged.
Yet the abiding reminiscence for a lot of will probably be Morocco’s shake-up of soccer’s hierarchy.
Thousands of their followers painted the desert pink and turned Doha’s souq right into a nook of Marrakesh because the Atlas Lions roared into the semi-finals.
Harnessing the vitality of their followers, Walid Regragui’s males scored victories over European aristocrats Belgium, Spain and Portugal on the best way to changing into the primary African and first Arab nation to achieve the final 4.
France proved a match too far as they arrange a showdown with Argentina within the spectacular Lusail Stadium the place almost 4 weeks earlier Argentina’s 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia lit the blue touchpaper for a unprecedented match.

In 5 second-half minutes Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari wrote themselves into Saudi sporting folklore by scoring the targets to overturn a Messi penalty and seal the largest statistical shock in World Cup historical past.
Infantino, who raised eyebrows on the eve of the match with a passionate monologue defending the Qatari organisers, described the group part as the perfect ever. Few would disagree.
The 48 video games produced 120 targets, solely two pink playing cards, and sufficient head-spinning moments to garnish three tournaments.
A day after Saudi Arabia’s win, Japan got here from a purpose all the way down to beat Germany — a consequence the four-time champions by no means recovered from as they went house early.
Iran, towards a backdrop of widespread anti-government protests at house, had been smashed 6-2 by England, then beat Wales with targets within the eighth and eleventh minutes of stoppage time.

Late targets and hasty re-writes for the world’s written media had been a recurring theme and the final three nights of group motion had been a white-knuckle journey on and off the pitch.
Japan shocked Spain in a stomach-churning end to Group E which at one level appeared to be sending Costa Rica and Japan into the final 16 on the expense of Spain and Germany.
South Korea conjured a stoppage-time purpose to beat Portugal and make it out of Group H to the heartbreak of Uruguay whereas Mexico’s manic try to attain sufficient targets towards the Saudis to pip Poland to second spot in Group C led to failure.
Every continent was represented within the final 16 for the primary time however after such a riotous group part would it not fall flat?
No probability.

Australia gave Argentina a mighty late scare, Mbappe dazzled for France towards Poland and a free-scoring England ended the Senegalese get together within the tent-like Al Bayt Stadium, certainly one of seven new stadiums constructed for the match, together with the 974 Stadium comprised of recycled transport containers.
Brazil danced their option to a 4-1 thrashing of South Korea whereas Portugal did the unthinkable and omitted Ronaldo solely to discover a new hero as Goncalo Ramos bagged a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of Switzerland.
Morocco went toe-to-toe with Spain in an absorbing 0-0 draw, then knocked out the 2010 champions on penalties as Luis Enrique’s facet didn’t web a single kick.
Unpredictable because the match was, the standard suspects assembled for the quarter-finals.
Some Neymar magic gave Brazil an extra-time lead towards Croatia, just for Bruno Petkovic to stage within the 117th minute with Croatia’s first effort on track. Almost inevitably, Brazil slumped out on penalties.

Argentina squandered a 2-0 lead towards a Netherlands facet who dumped their standard scientific strategy in favour of lumping excessive balls into the field to harmful impact.
Wout Weghorst’s brace, the second within the eleventh minute of stoppage time silenced the blue and white hordes, however Messi and Co edged a penalty shootout to resolve a fractious contest.
Ronaldo turned the primary man to attain in 5 World Cups however his final look, once more in its place, led to tears as Portugal went down 1-0 to a history-making Morocco.
England’s penalty curse then returned as Harry Kane’s botched effort condemned them to a 2-1 defeat by France.
Messi, channelling his inner-Maradona, impressed Argentina to beat Croatia and few would begrudge the diminutive quantity 10’s record-breaking twenty sixth World Cup look ending with him holding aloft the gleaming trophy.

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