As fans begin to sink their teeth into the 2022 World Cup, football fever is engulfing the nation of Qatar for the sport’s biggest international competition. While the tournament has certainly had its controversy, now the football is underway many have been reminded of what they have missed in the four years since France lifted the famous trophy in Russia four years ago. Those checking the World Cup 2022 odds to win the tournament though won’t find it easy.
Indeed, so much has changed across the footballing landscape since the 2018 World Cup. From record-breaking transfers to a global pandemic, the modern game has certainly undergone a facelift, but with international football the talk of the town once again, the first-ever winter edition of the World Cup has not lacked any entertainment thus far.
There’s been plenty to dissect already this tournament, so read on, as we take a look at some of the major talking points in the early stages of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The additional time
When Qatar proposed to FIFA that games at their World Cup should be extended to 100 minutes, many swatted claims away, but given the amount of time that has been added on for injuries and stoppages in the opening games, you’d have thought that law was passed when the tournament kicked off.
Initially when Iran’s goalkeeper picked up an injury against England, the 14 minutes of added time was understandable, but a trend of this year’s competition so far has been the enormous passages of injury time, particularly in the second half. It has meant fans have been parked in their seats ahead of some nail-biting finishes.
Tough start for the hosts
Nobody had realistically expected Qatar to go on and win the World Cup on home soil, but after they had cancelled their domestic league season and spent two months in a training camp, you would have thought they would have performed more valiantly in their opening match.
Perhaps the pressure was too much for the former Asian Cup winners, as they were decimated by an Ecuador team that looked to kill the game off early. Enner Valencia’s brace ensured the South Americans picked up a 2-0 win, and they hardly broke a sweat as a lacklustre Qatar lacked any kind of composure or tactical structure.
An underdog story?
In one of the biggest shocks in the entire history of the World Cup, Saudi Arabia kicked off their campaign with a massive upset as they beat Argentina. Lionel Messi gave his side the lead, and the Copa America champions, unbeaten in their previous 36 matches before their tournament opener, put the ball in the net three times before the interval. However, some contentious offside decisions ensured Saudi faced just a one-goal deficit heading into the second half, and in a freak five minutes, they turned things around.
Goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and a beautifully curled effort from Salem Al-Dawasri gave the Saudis a 2-1 lead, which they defended valiantly to earn a shock win. It was a famous day in the history of their nation, with the win in Lusail earning the nation a public holiday.