Unlike Messi and Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo had a miserable World Cup in Qatar — scoring just one goal. CR7's FIFA World Cup dream is over.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is over, and Qatar could lay claim to have hosted arguably the best World Cup ever.
The group stage alone was thrilling, producing one upset after another. While the knockout stages was breath-taking.
In the end, Lionel Messi finally got his hands on the trophy that appeared destined to elude him, while Kylian Mbappe scooped the Golden Boot after becoming only the second man after Geoff Hurst to net a World Cup final hat-trick.
In this article, FootballOrbit looks at the winners and losers from Qatar 2022.
Winner: Lionel Messi
Critics have previously pointed to Messi’s lack of success on the international stage to undermine him as the greatest of all time.
However, with a Copa America win last year and the World Cup in his trophy cabinet; Lionel Messi has probably won the G.O.A.T debate.
Loser: Cristiano Ronaldo
After his infamous interview with Piers Morgan got his contract terminated by Manchester United, all eyes were on Cristiano Ronaldo in Qatar.
Equally, he was determined to remind the world of his greatness; but he ultimately failed to deliver in what is expected to be his last World Cup.
The 37-year-old looked well off the pace in most games and got dropped by manager Fernando Santos for indiscipline.
His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, netted a sensational hat-trick in his absence, while Portugal also played their best football in the emphatic 6-1 win over Switzerland.
Unlike Messi and Mbappe, Ronaldo had a miserable World Cup. He scored just one goal — a penalty in the 3-2 opening win against Ghana.
It is fair to say that Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup dream is gone.
Winners: Morocco and Africa
Morocco captured the hearts of everyone on their way to becoming the first ever African nation to reach the World Cup semi-final.
Walid Regragui’s team were the ultimate underdog story, beating Spain and Portugal in the round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively.
But Africa’s other four representatives impressed as well.
Cameroon shockingly beat Brazil, as Vincent Aboubakar scored one of the tournament’s best goals against Serbia.
Senegal reached the knockout stage despite superstar Sadio Mane’s absence.
Moreso, Tunisia stunned France, and Ghana nearly qualified for the knockout rounds.
It showed why Africa deserves more slots at the FIFA World Cup.
Loser: FIFA’s 48 team system
The last matchday of the group stage generated unprecedented level of drama, with nearly every single set of fixture becoming intriguing.
FIFA have already decided to increase the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026, planning to have 16 groups of three teams.
But the excitement generated in the group stage in Qatar made it obvious that they need to revise that plan.
FIFA now have a big problem to solve so as not to make the World Cup group stage boring.
Winner: Kylian Mbappe
The FIFA World Cup is Kylian Mbappe’s playing ground, and he proved it again in Qatar.
He produced some brilliant displays to lead France to the final.
Furthermore, Mbappe single-handedly kept Les Bleus in the final against Argentina — turning what was becoming a rout into the most thrilling World Cup final ever.
Argentina were 10 minutes away from winning when he scored twice in 97 seconds. When Messi scored what looked like the winner in extra time, Mbappe equalized again!
Ultimately, the PSG forward won the Golden Boot with 8 goals — the most in a single World Cup since Ronaldo in 2002.
He is now tied with Pele with 12 World Cup goals overall, and needs only 4 more to match Miroslav Klose’s all-time record.
After winning the World Cup in 2014, Germany have now crashed out at the group stage for the second consecutive tournament.
They were heralded as one of the tournament favourites, but fell very short of expectations.
Although they crashed out in the group stage without winning a single game, Qatar will be very glad to have hosted a very successful FIFA World Cup.
There were fears before the tournament about it being played in the middle of the European season.
There were also big names who missed out because of injuries — Karim Benzema, Marco Reus, Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante and Sadio Mane, to name a few.
Moreso, there were concerns that players would be too fatigued in Qatar to be in top form.
But it was one of the best World Cups ever. It was a roller-coaster ride, full of upsets with each match exciting.
Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina, Japan shocked Germany, Tunisia beat France, Belgium and Germany crashed out at the group stage and Croatia eliminated Brazil.
Furthermore, Netherlands made a classic come back against Argentina in the quarterfinals. And, of course, Morocco’s fairytale run to the semi-final.
Qatar 2022 culminated with what is arguably the best World Cup final ever!
Losers: Belgium’s Golden Generation
In the last decade, Belgium had a Golden Generation of players that saw the country rise to the summit of world football. But they failed to win a single trophy.
At the 2022 World Cup, the Red Devils embarrassingly exited at the group stage, and it raises questions if Belgium has “wasted” its Golden Generation.
Losers: Neymar and Brazil
Brazil were heavy favourites heading into the 2022 World Cup.
Star man, Neymar, was in superb form ahead of the tournament — whilst the rest of the team was full of talented superstars.
However, Brazil got eliminated in the quarter-finals by Croatia. Qatar 2022 ended miserably for the Selecao — with Neymar now likely never to win a World Cup in his career.