As the 2022 World Cup gets underway in Qatar, it’s the perfect time to refresh our memories of what happened in the tournament four years ago. A lot has changed since the World Cup landed on Russian shores in 2018, but there’s no denying that it was a competition full of thrills and spills.
With football fans analysing the World Cup odds ahead of the action in the Middle East, let’s have a look back on the biggest talking points from the last edition of this historic tournament.
France’s glorious triumph
Of course, the biggest story was France getting their hands on the World Cup for the second time in the nation’s history. Many had tipped them to do well before the tournament began, and with players like Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe at coach Didier Deschamps’ disposal, it was no real surprise to see them picking up the trophy.
France didn’t set the world alight in the group stage, but saved their best form for the knockout rounds, where they overcame some strong opposition to triumph. Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium and runners-up Croatia all fell by the wayside, unable to stop the French juggernaut.
Croatia upsetting the odds
Croatia’s run to the final was one of the feel-good stories of the 2018 World Cup. Luka Modric and co. seemed to gain an immense amount of belief from their first match in the tournament, where they defeated Argentina 2-0 in an assured display.
They topped their group with maximum points, and then knocked out Denmark, hosts Russia, and England to reach the final. Unfortunately, the showpiece fixture in Moscow was a step too far for Zlatko Dalic’s men, but they could still depart the tournament with their heads held high after giving a fine account of themselves.
Defending champions falling at the group stage has become a running theme at World Cup finals, and Germany were the latest to fall foul of his curse. Just like Spain and Italy before them, the Germans just couldn’t muster enough points to reach the knockout stage, losing to Mexico and South Korea either side of a solitary victory over Sweden.
It was a jolt back down to earth for Joachim Low’s side, who had been so impressive in winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Disappointment for the African contingent
For the first time in decades, no African team reached the knockout stages of the World Cup. Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia all failed to qualify from their respective groups, in what was a disappointing showing from the five African nations.
Senegal had the best chance of making the last 16, and after an impressive win over Poland in their first match, they had qualification in their own hands. However, a 2-2 draw with Japan and 1-0 loss to Colombia cost them in the end, as did the number of yellow cards they picked up, as Japan qualified for the knockout rounds with a superior fair play record.
This year, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia will be hoping to do better for their continent.