February 7, 2023

Main event

And then there were eight. After four dozen group matches and eight eliminators, Qatar 2022 now has its full complement of quarter-finalists. On Sunday week, the captain of one of the Netherlands, Argentina, France, England, Croatia, Brazil, Morocco or Portugal will triumphantly hoist what is arguably the most iconic trophy in world sport through a deluge of ticker tape to cheering roar from his ecstatic teammates, fans and compatriots.

Having spoken at length about his desire to win trophies, an ambition so far unrealized at Tottenham Hotspur, credit could fall to Harry Kane, but for now the England captain is unlikely to look beyond the appointment of Saturday with France, who are currently second favorite behind Brazil to become only the third nation in tournament history to retain the title.

But being a favorite means little. On racecourses in the United Kingdom, alleged bankers are sacked with monotonous regularity. While the odds makers mostly called the last 16 correctly, a series of matches that suggested multiple upsets could only yield one on the cards.

This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

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Quick guide

Qatar: beyond football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the past 12 years, The Guardian has covered the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights violations to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism has been collected on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football homepage for those who want to dig deeper into the issues off the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Photo: Caspar Benson

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After a group stage that created a few seismic shocks and saw big names like Germany, Belgium – and to a lesser extent Denmark and Uruguay – crash out, most of the teams expected to progress to the quarter-finals fell from the first knockout round to are required, with Spain being the notable exception. Australia, Poland, Switzerland, South Korea, the US and Senegal can all claim to have left Qatar with their heads held high – Switzerland less so after their beating – but there has always been a certain inevitability about the latter’s cream of the crop 16 picks to the top.

In the five World Cups hosted earlier in the millennium, only South Korea – co-hosts in 2002 – have raised eyebrows in disbelief by advancing to the semi-finals, having first surpassed their own and global expectations by making the final eight. . With home field advantage and good luck, Guus Hiddink’s side won numerous admirers as they progressed through the knockout stages at the expense of Italy and Spain before running out against Germany. In any other year, the way Turkey reached the other semi-final of 2002, albeit at the expense of lesser-celebrated opponents, only to lose to Brazil would have been pretty sensational news. In a tournament that was relatively full of surprises, the US also made it to the quarterfinals of Japan and South Korea in 2002.

In the four tournaments played since then, only Ukraine (2006), Ghana and Paraguay (2010), Costa Rica (2010) and perhaps Sweden (2018) seemed to have ideas beyond their means, reaching the quarter-finals and none of them those surprise packs continued, and eventually they all went to more streetwise, often craftier, and just plain better sides. Despite not being in the top 20 of the FIFA international rankings, Morocco are on trend by knocking out Spain to take their place in the final eight for the first time in their history, otherwise full of familiar faces. With only one goal conceded – an unlucky own goal – in the last eight games, this stubborn side from North Africa could go even further and take a beating. BG

Discussion points

Hakimi keeps courage for box-office moment
Achraf Hakimi booked Morocco’s place in the quarter-finals with one of the great penalties in major tournaments. After playing his part in a superb defensive display against Spain and already seeing his teammate Hakim Ziyech hit his own shootout spot down the middle, the Madrid-born defender fired the ball into the back of the net with an effort that Andrea Pirlo – or indeed Antonin Panenka – would have been proud. His celebration was also right there, merry on the spot as he waited for his onrushing teammates to arrive. Nervous? No. There were certainly nerves. But after taking a deep breath, one last moment to focus, Hakimi sent Morocco into the last eight. It was a sensational composure under pressure and will go down in history as one of the most memorable moments of a drama-filled tournament. LMC

Ramos seizes moment for rampant Portugal
Gonçalo Ramos’ opening goal flashed past Yann Sommer and into the top corner before Switzerland’s goalkeeper had a chance to move. The Swiss defenders all looked around in disbelief, wondering how they had fallen behind in the blink of an eye. Fabian Schär could have done more to block the shot, and Sommer was beaten at the near post, but the attack was so sweet and powerful that it was a moment to praise Ramos’ technique and opportunism. By the end of the night, with six goals scored, Portugal had rocketed to somewhere near the top of the table of potential tournament winners and Ramos had seized his moment by scoring the first hat-trick of the World Cup. As the Portugal squad gathered at the corner flag to celebrate that rocket from an opener, Cristiano Ronaldo was just another face in the crowd. Since this pace he will have to get used to it. LMC

There were disturbing scenes outside the Education City Stadium before and during the match between Morocco and Spain, with fans of the African country unable to access the last 16. Journalists reported that there was a risk of falling in love when the entrance to the stadium was halfway through the first half closed and a flashpoint as an officer fell from a horse amid chaotic scenes at a chain-link fence. Fans who, according to organizers, did not have tickets tried to get past a security cordon, but were pushed back by police and security forces. It was reported that the situation calmed down as many fans outside chose to check on their mobile phones. NL

Global media watch

The exits of both Japan and South Korea in rapid succession left Asia without a representative in the last eight of the World Cup, but domestic press reaction has seen the defeats mostly through the prism that reaching the last 16 is a performance in itself.

South Korea’s The Hankyoreh lamented the pressure the schedule had put on the team compared to Brazil. “The World Cup was held while the European competitions were going on, which affected the duration of the tournament,” the paper said. “The Korean players, who had no choice but to put up with the tight schedule, suffered from physical exhaustion. Brazil changed most of the starting line-up in the third round of the group stage.”

The Kyunghyang Shinmun had reporters on the streets of Seoul, where fans gathered to watch at 4am in temperatures of -4C. “Citizens who filled the square three hours before the start of the match melted the cold with cup noodles and hot coffee,” it noted, adding: “It snowed quite a bit from the end of the first half, but the enthusiasm to cheer was not muted.” There was no indication whether there was a noodle shower when South Korea scored.

South Korea fans watch the game on a big screen as it snows in Seoul
South Korea fans watch the game on a big screen as it snows in Seoul. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

The Japan Times said that after the victories over Spain and Germany, “the international football community should take note that this Japanese side is not another flash in the pan”. Dan Orlowitz judged, “Over four matches at this tournament, the Samurai Blue’s performance showed some of their greatest strengths – and exposed their most glaring weaknesses”, saying that “it is now to be hoped that it Monday’s heartbreak sent many of the 19 players to their first World Cup that took the team to the promised land of the quarter-finals and beyond.”

. MB

The internet responds

Roy Keane continued his quest to make friends around the world with his disparaging comments about Brazil’s Monday dance parties. TNT Sports BR weren’t the only people to compare Keane’s comments that the dancing was “disrespectful” to his own actions throughout his career, but with over five million followers on Twitter, their flashback to that Keane tackle on Alfe Inge Haaland will reach more have had than most.

Roy Keane achou “desrespeitoso” as danças que jogadores brasileiros fizeram após os gols contra a Coreia. Mas ele não se lembra que foi “responsável” por encerrar prematuramente a carreira de Alf-Inge Haaland, o pai de Haaland. (+) 🧶 pic.twitter.com/0cWysDHSF0

— TNT Sports BR (@TNTSportsBR) December 6, 2022


Roy Keane found “desrespeitoso” as dancers who brasileiros fizeram após os gols contra a Coreia. You can’t say you “answer” to prematurely make an Alf-Inge Haaland or Haaland car. (+) 🧶 pic.twitter.com/0cWysDHSF0

— TNT SportBR (@TNTSportsBR) December 6, 2022

Not everyone hit the bullseye. An outraged tweet suggested Keane was born into a society where people don’t dance because they don’t know how to express themselves. A rather difficult view of Irish culture to explain to Michael Flatley, one imagines.

Still, at least one bunch of internet killjoys were impressed. The self-proclaimed Official Party Police of the World Cup have promoted Keane to an honorary role as Chief Constable, complete with a fancy British police cap. Keane will definitely love that. MB


Following his excellent work policing the disgraceful scenes at the #BRA vs #KOR game, we appoint Roy Keane to the role of Chief Constable.👮👍🇧🇷

Welcome to the Celebration Police, Chief Constable Keane!👮🚨🚔#celebrationpolice #FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/t2mXTzXEv4

— World Cup Celebration Police (@PLCPolice) December 6, 2022


Live report today

It’s the first of two rest days in Qatar, but between 9am and 5pm GMT we’ll have ongoing World Cup news and make sure you get your live football fix with the Guardian’s minute-by-minute coverage of Arsenal v Juventus in the Women’s Champions League at 8 o’clock in the evening.

And finally …

Olivier Giroud impressed at his press conference in France by switching between English, French and Italian to answer a variety of questions on topics ranging from his thoughts on the tactics of Harry Kane and Didier Deschamps to what he made of the counterfeit footage of him and Kylian Mbappé’s bromantic embrace on the pitch in the 3-1 win against Poland. “There was nothing calculated about the photo, it was a really nice photo and the Photoshops made me smile. Sport makes us experience great things and it wasn’t a winning goal in a final, but it was important,” he said, in case you’re wondering. After half an hour of courtship, cheerful and unruffled, there might be a job as a press officer for the striker when he hangs up his boots. NL

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