The World Cup group stage: What you need to know


Fauzan Saari (Unsplash)

The World Cup trophy is lifted into the sky.

Raj Kirtikar, Staff Writer

With the group stage of the 2022 Qatar World Cup now over, let’s take a look at the groups and how each of the 32 teams performed.

Group A:

Group A consisted of the host nation Qatar, along with the Netherlands, Senegal, and Ecuador. It was an utter and embarrassing disappointment for the host nation as they finished last in the group with 0 points, resulting in the worst host nation performance in the history of the competition. Third-place Ecuador had a fairly disappointing run with their only win coming against Qatar, a decent 1-1 draw against the Netherlands, and a 3-1 loss against Senegal. The highlight of their campaign was striker Enner Valencia scoring three phenomenal goals in the group. Senegal finished runners-up in the group and played well in their group with wins against Ecuador and Qatar, and a loss against group winners Netherlands. The Netherlands had a great group stage finishing first in the group with no losses. They had wins against Qatar and Senegal and drew with Ecuador. Dutch Winger Cody Gakpo played terrific in the group stage scoring 3 goals.

Group B: 

Group B consisted of a fierce group with England, the USA, Iran, and Wales. Wales had a frustrating run, winning none of their matches and losing against both England and Iran, a shocking twist. They finished with one measly point, which came from a 1-1 draw against the USA, resulting in a last-place finish. Iran finished in third and had an embarrassing first game against England, losing 6-2, followed by an impressive 2-0 win against Wales, and then a loss against the USA. The games could have gone much worse for Iran, so a third-place finish is less than disappointing. The Iran players may also face a penalty after returning home, though, due to refusing to sing the national anthem as a protest for recent events regarding Mahsa Amini and the treatment of women. Second-place finisher USA had a great group stage as they went unbeaten and qualified for the Round of 16. The USA drew two of their matches, against Wales and England, but pulled out a 1-0 win against Iran, with Christian Pulisic scoring. The Group Winner England destroyed Iran in their first match, with youngster Bukayo Saka scoring a brace (two goals), and beating Wales 3-1. Marcus Rashford has also been excellent for England, scoring a goal against Iran, and a brace against Wales with an exceptional freekick. 

Group C:

Group C had Mexico, Poland, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia had a flabbergasting 2-1 upset against one of the tournament favorites, Argentina, resulting in all the players being given a Rolls Royce car. However, the Saudis were unable to qualify and placed last in the group. Mexico had an upsetting finish, although they were tied in points with second-place Poland they didn’t make the Round of 16 due to goal difference. El Tri, the nickname for the Mexican national team, drew against Poland, beat Saudi Arabia 2-1, and lost to Argentina 2-0. Poland finished in second place, and although they were able to qualify, they did not play the best as their only win came against Saudi Arabia. Despite Argentina’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia, they were able to finish first in the group as they won their next two games (2-0 against Mexico and 2-0 against Poland). Captain Lionel Messi was able to prove that he is still world-class and netted two goals, however, he missed a penalty against Poland.

Group D:

Group D consisted of current World Cup champion France, along with Australia, Denmark, and Tunisia. France beat the so-called “world cup curse”, where the current champion ends up underperforming by miles, and placed first in their group. Kylian Mbappe was world-class and proved himself as one of the best players in the world as he scored three great goals. The runners-up in the group, Australia’s results came as quite a shock. After getting thrashed by France 4-1 in the opening match, they were expected to not move on to the Round of 16. However, they were able to pull off wins against both Tunisia and Denmark. Tunisia, despite not being able to move on, played phenomenally as they were able to win against France 1-0 and drew against Argentina. The so-called “dark horses” of the world cup, Denmark underperformed greatly and weren’t able to win a single match. 

Group E:

The results of Group E came as a shock to everyone as an unexpected candidate finished first in the group. Japan beat all odds and came out on top of the group against Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica. They were able to pull a shock winner against Germany 2-1, after being down 1-0, and were able to repeat the same feat against Spain. However, they surprisingly lost against Costa Rica 1-0. Second-place Spain had an excellent opening match destroying Costa Rica 7-0, they then drew against Germany, and finally lost to Japan 2-1. Alvaro Morata played excellently for Spain and scored three goals. Third-place Germany had yet another disappointing finish after failing to qualify for the Round of 16 for the second consecutive World Cup. They suffered a shock defeat against Japan, and despite winning 4-2 against Costa Rica, they were unable to qualify due to the goal difference (Spain scored seven versus Costa Rica). Despite the horror show versus Spain, last place Costa Rica didn’t play the worst as they had a win against Japan and were winning against Germany at one point in the match. 

Group F:

Group F was also a shocker as another unlikely candidate ended up seizing the first-place finish. Morocco finished in first place and shocked the world by beating Belgium 2-0. They also had a win against Canada and drew against Croatia. 2018 World Cup runners-up, Croatia had nil-nil draws against both Belgium and Morocco but were able to thrash Canada 4-1. In that match, Canada was able to score in the first three minutes, making that the fastest World Cup goal of this campaign. Third-place Belgium had an absolutely horrific campaign as their “golden generation” failed to impress anyone. The once number-one ranked country in the world in FIFA rankings looked abysmal and seemed to have zero chemistry. Fights between players were reported in the changing rooms and their only win was a close game against Canada that finished 1-0. Romelu Lukaku was dreadful as he missed three open goal chances in Belgium’s last game against Croatia. Despite finishing in last place, Canada shouldn’t sulk too much as it was their first World Cup appearance since 1986 and they scored their first World Cup goal ever. 

Group G:
Group G consisted of a tournament favorite, Brazil, along with Switzerland, Cameroon, and Serbia. Brazil proved to the world why they are considered one of the favorites of this tournament as they won their first two matches against Serbia and Switzerland. They completely dominated in both games and in the match against Serbia, Tottenham winger Richarlison scored a brace and scored a picture-perfect bicycle kick goal. However, Brazil’s last match came as a surprise as they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon. Switzerland came in second place and got the same number of points as Brazil. Switzerland played great overall and beat Cameroon 1-0 and then Serbia 3-2 in an entertaining match. Despite beating Brazil, Cameroon wasn’t able to win their other two matches, drawing Serbia 3-3 in a potential game of the tournament match and losing against Switzerland. Serbia performed quite poorly and finished in last place. Given the quality of their squad, they were expected to finish in at least third place, but they were unable to win any of their matches. 

Group H:

The last group of the 2022 Qatar World Cup consisted of Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana, and South Korea. The results of Group H were quite astonishing as South Korea finished in second place and was able to qualify for the Round of 16. This was due to a shocking 2-1 win against Portugal in their last match. The other two matches for South Korea were a 0-0 draw against Uruguay and a 2-3 defeat against Ghana. Portugal finished in first place, and captain Cristiano Ronaldo became the second-oldest World Cup goal scorer of all time. Portugal won their first two games, 3-2 versus Ghana and 2-0 against Uruguay, and lost their last game against South Korea. Luis Suarez’s Uruguay squad failed to qualify for the Round of 16 and finished in third place. Overall, Uruguay played poorly and was only able to win against Ghana. This failure to qualify for the Round of 16 elated many Ghana fans as they were sort of finally able to get revenge for Luis Suarez’s handball save in the 2010 World Cup, which ended up eliminating Ghana. Ghana ended up finishing in last place but had two thrilling matches, losing 3-2 against Ghana and winning 3-2 against South Korea.

That’s it for the group stage of the 2022 World Cup! It sure was filled with entertainment. Make sure to stay tuned for the Round of 16 review coming next week to not miss any exciting action!