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FIFA World Cup 2022: Heavyweights dazzle into the next round, living up to the pre-tournament hype

Despite the few shocks, one thing has remained constant - the big guns maintaining their dominance at this World Cup.

Brazilian striker Richarlison scored a brace against Serbia; Credit: Twitter/@CBF_Futebol
By Karthik Raman | Nov 30, 2022 | 7 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

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The FIFA World Cup 2022 is in full swing as the supporters are beginning to have a clear notion of which teams stand a chance of progressing through to the knockout rounds of the competition. In their respective groups, each side has participated in at least two games. While some have already sealed their ticket to the round-of-16 stage, the rest are fighting it out to secure the top two positions in their respective groups. With only a few days left until the last round of group matches come to an end, football fans can expect to see a lot of twists and turns.

This is an unusual time for a World Cup to take place as domestic clubs across the globe, particularly, in Europe had to be halted for the showpiece event. This led to a lot of criticism prior to the start of the tournament in Qatar. Many players missed the tournament after picking up injuries during their club season, causing a lot of disappointment among the supporters. As for the coaches of the national teams are concerned, their preparations with the final squad suffered massively. Players began their national duty with only days before the World Cup began, making it incredibly difficult for the coaches to implant fresh ideas and strategies into their playing group.

With fitness seeming to be the main priority, pundits and supporters wondered whether the lack of preparation for the World Cup could cause a few eye-catching upsets – and it did! Japan’s late comeback saw them stun Germany, while Saudi Arabia ended Lionel Messi and Argentina’s impressive 36-game unbeaten streak among other shocks. Despite the few shocks, one thing has remained constant – the big guns maintaining their dominance. Defending champions France and Brazil are through to the knockout stages, while Portugal and the Netherlands look like the real deal. Let us take a look at how the heavyweights have performed so far in the competition:

Brazil

There is hardly a World Cup in which Brazil do not enter as the favourites. The Samba Boys have won the FIFA World Cup more times than any other country. With five titles to their name, they lifted their first trophy in 1958 and followed it up in 1962, 1970 and 1994. However, the last time Brazil lifted the coveted trophy was way back in 2002 when they defeated Germany in the final. It is 20 years since that triumph and their passionate supporters are eager for their national team to end that barren run.

Group G

PositionTeamsMatchesWinsDrawsLossesPoints
1Brazil226
2Switzerland2113
3Cameroon2111
4Serbia2111

Ranked No.1 in the world, Brazil have the necessary squad strength and depth to go all the way in the competition. The South American nation have at least two world-class players in almost every position across the pitch. They have amazing quality running deep in their squad, which often gives head coach Tite a massive headache with the squad selection. It doesn’t matter who he picks or drops, Brazil will still continue to be a force to be reckoned with. 

Neymar showed his class with his passing and dribbling, Image credit: Twitter/Copa America
Neymar in a file photo; Image credit: Twitter/Copa America

It is clear how they are coping in the absence of their star attacker Neymar. The Paris Saint-Germain forward is unlikely to play a part for Brazil before the group stage after picking up an injury in their opener. Despite his absence, Tite is still able to name a world-class lineup that got the job done against Switzerland in their last match. Be it in attack or defence; with or without the ball – Brazil’s performances are a treat to the eye.

Read More – Brazil 1-0 Switzerland: Twitter reacts as the Selecao seal qualification for the knockouts of 2022 World Cup

How Brazil have performed at FIFA World Cup 2022?

Tite’s side have been massively impressive so far in this World Cup. They produced an excellent performance to get past Serbia 2-0 in their opener, thanks to a Richarlison double. They followed it up with a hard-fought yet deserved three points against Switzerland. Casemiro’s only goal of the game was enough for Samba Boys to book a round-of-16 ticket. Brazil have six points from two games in Group G and are well on way to clinching the top spot in that group. They are capable of beating any country on a given day, making Brazil one of the nations to be feared in the knockout stage of the competition.

France

France are another team that was labeled by many as favourites for the World Cup crown. The French side are the defending champions and were expected to retain the trophy this time around. However, they were given the favourite tag due to their squad quality and past performances rather than their present form. France headed into the World Cup with a poor run of results. Their performances were massively disappointing in this year’s Nations League. Placed in League A Group 1, France managed just one win in the group phase.

Group D

PositionTeamsMatchesWinsDrawsLossesPoints
1France226
2Australia2113
3Denmark2111
4Tunisia2111

They could only accumulate five points from six matches to finish third. France narrowly avoided the bottom spot, which was their only positive from the Nations League outing. They had lost to Denmark both home and away in the competition. As a result, when Denmark awaited them in the same World Cup group, French fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst. However, the defending world champions got their act together and defeated Denmark in their second group game.

What has worked for France is their collective brilliance. They have such a formidable squad, filled with world-class talents all over the pitch. Not to mention that France suffered a lot of injuries to key players even before the tournament started and the trend continued during their matches as well. They were already without Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, while Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema had to pull out due to injuries. The latest casualty is Lucas Hernandez and the left-back also had to withdraw from the World Cup. Despite these setbacks, they still continued to maintain their standard in Qatar.

Kylian Mbappe in a file photo, Credits: Twitter
Kylian Mbappe in a file photo, Credits: Twitter

How France have performed at FIFA World Cup 2022?

France have so far lived up to their favourites tag by constantly producing high-quality performances. They have won both their matches played in the group. The French side came from behind to defeat Australia 4-1 in their opener before dishing out a hard-fought 2-1 win over Denmark in their last match. Besides, Kylian Mbappe’s form will be a massive plus for the French side as they prepare to go long in the competition. France’s ability to change their gear with ease when attacking makes them a real threat. They can slow down the game or pick up pace in an instant, making it extremely difficult to play against them. With six points from two games, they are currently topping Group D. 

What about other heavyweights?

Portugal arguably have the best squad in their football history. They have quality players from top to bottom and have good squad depth. Their talented world-class group is led by their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. Hence, many believed this could be the World Cup where Portugal could reach new heights. So far they have been living up to those expectations. They are sitting at the top of Group H with six points from two matches and have already booked their place in the round of 16. If they can maintain their form, then Portugal can be a real threat to any side in the knockout stage.

Read More – Portugal 2-0 Uruguay: Talking Points as Bruno Fernandes leads Portugal past Uruguay into World Cup knockout round

The Netherlands were expected to be the dark horse of this World Cup and so far they have looked impressive. They were in good form prior to the tournament and have consistently produced eye-catching results for a while now. A lot of that credit has to be given to head coach Louis van Gaal. In this World Cup, they finished at the top of Group A with seven points. After beating Senegal in their opener, the Dutch nation were held to a draw by Ecuador. However, the Netherlands secured the top spot by defeating tournament hosts Qatar in their final group game.

The expectations were minimal when England traveled to Qatar for the World Cup. It was largely due to their underwhelming campaign in the Nations League after the Three Lions went the entire group stage without securing a single win. However, they have got their act together at the right time to consistently perform at a high level in the World Cup. After trouncing Iran 6-2 in the opener, they were held to a goalless draw by the USA in their second group match. however, England sealed their place in the knockout rounds following an impressive 3-0 win over Wales in their last match.



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