After the excitement had died down and a superb World Cup final had come to an end in Qatar, there were many pundits who were willing to say that they – and we – had just witnessed the best edition of this global festival of soccer. Visitors to sitesnotongamstop.com who had placed bets on the final will have seen their investment swing between positive and negative value as France twice came from behind to force penalties. The last World Cup final to even approach it for entertainment was the 1986 final, when Argentina also won. Nut although we had just witnessed a great final, was the tournament as good overall as people thought?
From an entertainment perspective, it was definitely better overall than most. Anyone who lived through the 1990 edition – and who isn’t from Cameroon or Ireland – will tell you quite how dull that tournament was from start to finish. 1994, 2006 and 2014 have also not aged well. But that leaves at least a few other tournaments that were pretty good. Does the 2022 competition stand comparison – and does it rise above all the other tournaments to merit the title of “best ever”?
Yes – the story of Morocco was spellbinding
One fantastic subplot to the 2022 World Cup was the performance of Morocco. Before the tournament, the African nations were expected to reach the last 16 or quarter finals at best. And if pundits had been forced to pick a country that might achieve that, they would have called out Senegal or Ghana. Morocco eliminated Belgium from the pool stage and just kept right on going, knocking out Spain and Portugal en route to a semi-final meeting with France. They didn’t just show up and play above themselves, they grew as the tournament went on.
No – a lot of matches ended 0-0
A goalless tie does not necessarily connote a terrible game of soccer, but while the final had many soccer fans glued to their seats, there were plenty of games in the competition where no glue would have been strong enough to keep neutrals in front of their TVs. Croatia may have made the semi-finals, but three of the five games they played to get there ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, including a numbingly tedious quarter-final with Brazil that promised so much in advance. World Cup 2022 was a tournament of extremes: when it was good, it was superb. When it was bad, it was interminable.
Maybe – All’s well that ends well
In future years, we will look back on this World Cup and feel that it went pretty well. Over the course of 64 matches you’re going to have some poor ones, but they were limited to a few, and we had enough surprises in there to keep viewers entertained. And the final, which so often promises more than it delivers, was an incredible match, better than any recent decider. In the end, soccer is an evolving sport. Many of us would struggle to watch even the highlights of the 1966 final, which ended 4-2, because the pace of the game was so slow compared with the modern day. It’s hard to compare tournaments across a spell of 92 years, but this one was good enough for a 2022 crowd.