On and off the pitch, the 2022 World Cup has been filled with plenty of moments.
Some of the greats have experienced their ‘Last Dance’, new talent has emerged, while many stories have been told.
Some moments that made us happy, others that made us sad.
Before anyone accuses of me being negative, let’s start with the top 10 Happy World Cup moments (the saddest 10 will be uploaded tomorrow).
I0- Iran’s political stance
(Out of respect didn’t want to grade this but felt you should read it first)
Yet again proving Arsene Wenger’s stance that any team focussing on politics failed at this tournament is simply false, step forward Iran.
It’s said that many footballers (like other Iranian sport’s personalities) didn’t want to represent their country in protest with how women are being treated back in their homeland.
With free press banned by their government they used pre and post-match interviews as a platform to send hope to their people.
They purposely refused to sing their national anthem in their first two matches, while their fans booed when it was sung in their third fixture.
A threat of a yellow card was enough to convince 7 European sides not to wear the One Love Armband, here were Iranians acting in defiance towards a regime believed to have influence over their FA (which is against FIFA’s own rules). Even though there are examples of extreme consequences when others have spoken up against those in power.
Harry Kane was scared of a yellow card, while Iran’s squad are willing to risk prison (or worse) for their defiance.
No using the company line of not mixing sport with politics, zero saying it’s okay to break human right laws because it’s happened elsewhere In history, and not hiding behind religion and your culture.
That’s become the fashionable stance in the last month. Migrant workers die unlawfully building stadiums, same sex couples and females don’t have rights because we can’t question anyone as long as they can say it’s their beliefs?
Easier for a Mr Wenger or Piers Morgan to say that, but harder to point out when something is wrong.
Imagine what history would look like if no one had ever spoken up when they saw someone do something wrong?
Imagine if a Hitler was never confronted on the principle, ‘well that’s his culture and belief?’
So, to any youngsters reading this ….
No, in 2022, you are allowed to say women and same sex couples should have rights, you are allowed to say workers dying due to unlawful labour is wrong.
It doesn’t make you ignorant, it’s just easier to call you that then defend it …. because you can’t defend it.
Iran’s squad have a moral compass, understanding right and wrong. In 2022 women should be treated equally …period.
If anything, united with their large following in the stands, it inspired only their third ever win on this stage, their first against European opponents.
In emotional scenes, even if just for a moment, Iran gave their people escapism.
A team making a political statement while also being successful on the pitch.
Apart from also in France, England, Switzerland, Holland, Australia, etc.
9- Lewandowski’s WC Goal
At 34 years old this could have been Lewandowski’s last World Cup.
Having had a penalty saved against Mexico and knowing Argentina was Poland’s last group match, with 80 minutes gone Vs Saudi Arabia the striker might have assumed he was running out of time to score at a World Cup.
That explains his emotion when he made it 2-0.
It was his 77th goal for the Poles but the one he really wanted.
For everything he has achieved in the game it was heartwarming to still see what scoring for his nation on the biggest stage meant to him.
For all he’s given the sport, it would have been a travesty if he never got to say he scored at a World Cup.
8- Pedri / Gavi (Spanish quality youth)
The Spanish media called them boring overall, but Spain’s opener against Costa Rica might have been the best performance of the tournament.
The boring comments stem from an ethos to play the Tika Taka style which won the hearts of so many in 2008-2014.
The principle is the opposition can’t hurt you if they don’t have the ball.
Spain though don’t have a plan B which means in every tournament they are always likely to have a day where they can’t break down a defence.
They end up then just passing the ball sideways with zero end product.
The counter argument to those critics though would be when it works ….it works.
On this one night everything clicked as Spain scored 7 against opponents with a reputation for being well organised.
Gavi is 18 (youngest WC scorer since Pele) and Pedri Is 20, meaning simply this might just have been a tournament too soon and will only get better.
Watching those two, I wouldn’t overreact, Spain will challenge for honours again.
7- 1st December Spain, Germany, Japan and Costa Rica excitement
There’s been plenty of upsets in the last month, but the greatest night of entertainment was the culmination of Group E.
At half time in both games, things were going to form, Spain and Germany were both winning 1-0, with the European heavy weights heading to the knockout stages.
Not just were the Germans delighted to hear Japan were losing but they would have been comforted by the balance of play.
Suddenly though the Japanese scored twice in three minutes, the one result which meant Germany would have to beat Costa Rica by a huge margin.
Shell shocked Costa Rica took advantage by equalising. Suddenly Costa Rica realised they were a goal away from going through.
With nothing to lose they went on the attack and found themselves 2-1 up.
Now Japan and Costa Rica were going through, both who had been 1 down at the interval.
Germany eventually scoring 4 goals was a favour to Spain.
A crazy night where at one point all 4 were qualifying.
All 4 sets of fans went through a range of emotions
6- Suarez’s Ghana’s Revenge
Since the draw was made, one of the standout ties was Uruguay Vs Ghana, with the Africans getting the chance to finally get revenge on Luis Suarez for 2010.
Ghana had a chance to qualify at Uruguay’s expense with Suarez playing the pantomime villain to perfection by refusing to apologise in the build-up for his actions in South Africa.
Just when the Africans thought they couldn’t suffer any more penalty heartbreak at the expense of Uruguay, Ayew had his spot kick saved (at least Suarez didn’t celebrate this time).
In his first two games it looked like one tournament too many for Suarez, but the striker was clearly motivated by the opponents and assisted two goals.
The South Americans were 2-0 up with minutes remaining, going to the next round until they heard that South Korea had got a late goal in the other game.
Suddenly Uruguay needed one more goal, the problem being they had subbed a lot of their offensive talent.
This forced Suarez into tears, left to watch from the bench.
What was noticeable was Ghana’s sudden desire to time waste.
Even though they were heading out they were clearly motivated by the idea of getting revenge on Suarez.
They did, just not quite how they had planned it!
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