The world cup started on November 20, 2022, and so far 48 matches have been concluded. Only 16 countries are progressing to the next round.
Some countries had it smooth, and some didn’t make it easy, but these 16 countries in the knockout stage would tell you their dreams have partially come true; to get to the knockout stage and lift the cup.
France was the first team to qualify for the round of 16, and then others followed. Two teams qualified from each group as group winners and runners-up. In the round of 16, group winners will play with group runners-up of another group. That is, groups A and B, C and D, E and F, and G and H. This pairing was determined at the beginning of the World Cup.
The first set of matches in the round of 16 are Netherlands (Group A winners) versus USA (Group B runners-up) and Argentina (Group C winner) Versus Australia (group D runners-up) to be played on December 3rd by 16.00 and 20.00 GMT respectively.
In this round, there are no points to gather. You either win or lose… and go home. If there is a tie after 90 minutes of play, an additional 30 minutes of extra time is added and if it remains a tie, then the match will result in a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
The round of 16 is followed by the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final.
What we expect to see
The 2022 FIFA world cup has proved to be one for the underdogs as we saw in the group stage where a country like Saudi Arabia (no. 51 on the FIFA ranking) defeated Argentina (no. 3 on the FIFA ranking), Japan(no. 26 FIFA ranking) defeated Germany (no. 11 FIFA ranking) and Spain (no 7 FIFA ranking), and South Korea (no. 28 FIFA ranking) defeated Spain in their last group match.
Also, interesting is Cameroon (no. 43 FIFA ranking) defeating Brazil by 1-0 in their last group match. Hence, we can expect to see every team give it their all to win.
It’s a common belief that teams win games from the bench. In the group stage, we saw some of the group matches won from the bench as substitutes made the difference and gave their countries the desired victories.
So far, 22 substitutes have seen the back of their opponents’ nets, and we expect to see more of this in the knockout stages; winning from the bench. This is six more than we saw in Russia in 2018.
The prize for participation
The grandest prize in football is the world cup itself but only one team lifts it. Aside from the world cup, FIFA also gives prize money so it’s not all doom for the losing teams in every stage. For participating at all, each team would be paid $9m.
This is the minimum reward for all teams featured in the group stage. Those that got to the round of 16 would get $13m and the prize goes upward for those who get to the quarterfinals who would clinch $17m. The fourth-placed, third-placed, and runner-up would get $25m, $27m, and $30m respectively. The winners would go home with a whooping sum of $42m, $4m more than the prize in Russia 2018.
Who would lift the cup?
Would it be an underdog or the world cup favorites like Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, Portugal, or England?
We just have to wait to find out who lifts the cup on December 18 but whoever lifts it, would most surely deserve it for their hard work, doggedness, and skill.