As we approach the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, we can look back at an exciting four weeks of football with a lot of fond memories. Despite being initially met with a lot of controversy, and some justifiably so, once the action got underway in the Middle East, football fans were reminded exactly why they got so excited every four years for the sport’s most prestigious competition.
Indeed, there are plenty of talking points to unpack from the action so far. From Saudi Arabia stunning Argentina to end their 36-match unbeaten run in the group stage, to Achraf Hakimi’s composed Panenka penalty to knockout Spain, the country of his birth, in the round of 16. Now we’re down to the last two, and when checking the Argentina v France betting it’s certainly a close affair.
Winning the World Cup is down to fine margins, and since just 17 counties have won the tournament since its inception, it’s hard to piece together all the components required to go all the way. As we get to the Lusail Stadium on Sunday, many teams will be wondering if skill, luck, or a combination of both will be enough to reign supreme in Qatar and write their name in the history books. With that in mind, we look at all the winning ingredients a side will need to go the distance and win the World Cup. Read on to find out more.
A favorable draw
World Cup fever really gets started when the draw for the group stage commences. After a hard qualifying campaign, the last thing anyone wants is to draw a nation within the top FIFA rankings. In years gone by, we’ve seen several competitive teams thrown in together and been labelled as ‘groups of death’ where anything can happen. Given the number of upsets throughout this year’s group, including Australia and Japan making it to the round of 16, things aren’t always as they seem, but ensuring you win every group game can be enough of a confidence boost to put together a winning run that could navigate a side to the final.
Looking at the last few champions — France in 2018, Germany in 2014 four years earlier — they had world class players in almost every position. In fact, France won the trophy in Russia with the likes of Karim Benzema sat at home. As the knockout rounds march on, there’s always a chance that players pull up injured, so having solid deputies in the ranks is essential. The same can be said for substitutes. Germany didn’t bring on Mario Gotze until late on in the 2014 final and famously scored an extra-time winner against Argentina. It’s not just all about who has the best striker.
It is rare that a team lifts the World Cup without a dressing room littered with serial winners. With the exception of captain Hugo Lloris, France’s 2018 side had domestic success in all areas, with Champions League winners able to use their leadership to steer the side through tough moments. Managers can do so much in terms of tactics, but having players that have been there and go the t-shirt are key, especially if things aren’t going to plan.
A slice of luck
Sometimes teams win the World Cup despite not being at their best. The 2006 final between Italy and France was hardly the best game of football, and if Zinedine Zidane had stayed on the pitch or Gianluigi Buffon had dived at the wrong moment then things could have easily gone differently. With neither team wanting to give away too much, games are often a cagey affair, but that’s not to say that teams don’t get fortunate in the biggest of moments.