As the calendar year 2022 approaches its end, so does this 22nd installment of the FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament. Four countries remain, but only one can be winner.
Will football/soccer legend Lionel Messi lead Argentina to its third World Cup championship (his first)?
Will we see a rematch from the 2018 final between France and Croatia?
Will Morocco continue its surprise run after upset victories over both Spain and Portugal?
Arguments can be made for all four to be the ones hoisting the FIFA World Cup trophy when all is said and done. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the international governing body of soccer, began the World Cup in 1930. Host country Uruguay was the winner, defeating Argentina in that first final by a score of 4-2, on July 30, 1930. The first World Cup consisted on only 13 nations. That number has increased throughout the years and has been at 32 since 1998. The 2026 Cup, which will be hosted in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, will see the number jump up to 48.
But that’s enough about the past and the future, let’s get to the present. Cinderella team Morocco, #34 on the FIFA World Rankings, has already become the first African nation to reach the semifinals with their 1-0 win over Portugal. With the host team of Qatar eliminated in the preliminary round, Morocco has quickly become the favorites of the home fans. Next in their path to a championship is a match against the defending champions France. France was one of the favorites going into the tournament and they are the favorite of the remaining nations. They seek to become the first back-to-back champions since Brazil did it in 1958 and 1962. The French are led by phenom striker Kylian Mbappé, just 23 years old, who after scoring 4 goals in his first WC in 2018, has already kicked the ball into the back of the net five times in this tournament. France and Morocco square off on Wednesday, July 14. By the time they set foot on the field (also known as the pitch) on Wednesday, they will know which country awaits them in the Finals.
Argentina will take on Croatia in the first semifinal game on Tuesday (July 13). Croatia came up short in 2018, losing 4-2 to the said defending champs, France. Led by Midfielder Luka Modrić, Croatia reached this semifinal thanks to goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who’s played well this tournament and came up big against Brazil in the quarterfinals. Many eyes will be on Argentina and Messi, but don’t sell Croatia short. They can win this all.
Call it cliché, call it truth, call it whatever you want, but Argentina will go as far as superstar Forward Lionel Messi will take them. Playing in his 5th and final World Cup, this trophy has eluded him. The Argentinians (and the rest of the world) were shocked when they lost 2-1 to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their first game of the preliminary round. But since then, they have played better and seem to be peaking at a good time.
So, who win’s it all? In my bracket sheet I predicted a Portugal vs Argentina, (Cristiano) Ronaldo vs Messi final, with Argentina winning it all. Ronaldo and the Portuguese are out (thanks again Morocco), but Argentina remains so I must stay with them. While Morocco is fun to watch and has nothing to lose, I think their Cinderella run will end against France.
– PREDICTIONS –
Argentina – 3, Croatia 2
France – 3, Morocco – 1
3rd Place Game:
Croatia – 2, Morocco – 1
Argentina – 2, France – 2 [Argentina wins in Penalty Kicks, 7-6]
— Photo Credits —