The 2022 FIFA World Cup has reached its semi-finals and the matches have already been set, the shocks and spectacles are still-going. Entertainment at the highest level of the biggest global football competition is close to drawing to its conclusion with the last 4 teams remaining set to play their games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Who’s our last 4 standing?
Semi Final 1 : Argentina vs Croatia
It was Croatia’s turn to be the conjurers of another World Cup shock result on Friday in a continuing theme, after they knocked out then heavy favourites Brazil defeating the South Americans on penalties. Brazil were expected to have an easy time against Croatia but that did not turn out to be the case, going to extra time after a goalless 90 minutes. Neymar’s extra time goal cancelled by Petkovic’s late equaliser, and the Brazilian seemed to have lost their rabbit foot when Rodrygo and Marquinhos failing to convert their penalties in the penalty shootout while Croatia converted all of their spot kicks to famously knock out the Brazilians and book their ticket in the semis. A stunning display by the Croatians knocking out the tournament favourites and putting their foot in front to match, and possibly better, their runner up position at the 2018 edition of the tournament. Another giant, formidable foe stands once again in front of them looking to spoil the party and the odds of toppling them are high given the theme of this World Cup dishing out surprise results around every corner.
Later in the night the Dutch and the Albiceleste took to the field knowing a winner between them will have to line up against Croatia in the semi finals. The 2nd quarter final of the World Cup was probably the most heated and the world witnessed Leo Messi lose his cool, a rare occurrence to show how tempered the clash (eventually decided by a penalty shootout) between these two was. Argentina blew a 2-0 lead inside regulation after 2 very late goals from Weghorst cancelled out Molina and Messi’s goals for Argentina. The South American champions won the match on penalties to set up a mouth-watering date with Croatia and all counts of being a favourite thrown out the window with what we’ve witnessed with this tournament. Lionel Messi has been one of the best performers in this World Cup, rightly so since he has announced that this would be his last one and is doing all he can to bring it back to Argentina. Still fighting to lift the trophy and seems like a long time ago since they opened their campaign with a shock loss to Saudi Arabia.
Semi Final 2 : France vs Morocco
There was drama to be witnessed on the other side of the tournament tree, when Morocco were playing 2016 UEFA EURO winners Portugal in the 3rd quarter final of the tournament. Morocco stunned Spain in the previous round by eliminating them via a penalty shootout, and continued the same fashion by eliminating Ronaldo’s Portugal and leaving the Real Madrid legend in tears in what is most likely his last World Cup game. The Portuguese captain was left on the bench to accommodate for Round of 16 hattrick hero Goncalo Ramos, but it all ended far from Ronaldo’s dream of being World Champion fulfilled, a sad sight to see for any football fan. The game was settled in regulation time with En-Nesyri’s header in the 42nd minute being the winning goal that sent Portugal packing, Morocco’s heroics continuing to perfectly match the underdogs rising up to the challenge theme throughout the entire tournament. They are the first ever African team in history to reach the semi finals of the World Cup, an incredible feat to achieve and they’ve received backing from the African continent as they are representing. The Atlas Lions’ only goal conceded in their entire tournament run was an own goal and they’ve concede no goal from opposition players in the five games they’ve played. A very gigantic and daunting task of toppling the World Champions now awaits them in the semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and if there is team that cannot ruled out against Les Bleus, it is indeed Morocco.
Les Bleus played against the very hungry Three Lions in a very tight contest that could’ve easily been a World Cup final some other time, but it was the closing quarter final of the 2022 World Cup. The game was highlighted by Harry Kane’s missed penalty that could’ve levelled the scores and force an additional 30 minutes of play against the World Champions when the score was 2-1 in France’s favour. France managed to hold out for the win thanks to Giroud’s headed winner in the 78th and became the first defending champions to reach the semi-finals since Brazil did so in 1998. If they were to successfully defend their title they would become the first team in 60 years to retain a World Cup championship, and there are strong beliefs in the air that they can be able to do so with the form of their key players and their leading marksman of all time hitting the back of the net more consistently these days. Their semi final clash is against giant slayers, a team that would severely punish them if they were to take them lightly as witnessed in the previous rounds. A the top of the game France can still come out of this clash on top as they look to be the first team to score against Morocco with their own players.
The semi-finals play on the evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday as the World Cup is getting closer to its conclusion.