3 Biggest Surprises from the Qatar World Cup Group Stage

And it’s only been 1 week!

3 Biggest Surprises from the Qatar World Cup Group Stage

The 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted in Qatar began on November 20 and so far, there has been nothing short of surprises. Many nations everyone wrote off before the tournament have performed far beyond expectations and some of the more talented nations have underperformed. This has led to all but one national team having a chance to advance to the round of 16. With that, here are three of the biggest surprises from the World Cup group stage so far.


  1. Iran’s 2-0 victory over Wales


After a crushing 6-2 defeat to England in the opening group match, Iran went on to defeat a 10-man Wales squad 2-0 in the following match. Iran was the better team as they created more chances throughout the match. Iran had scored earlier in the match but following a video assistant referee check (VAR), the goal was not given due to an Iranian attacker being put in an offside position.


After a red card from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey for a careless tackle, Iran managed to break the scoreless tie. A 98th minute goal from Roozbeh Chehsimi and an 101st minute goal from Ramin Rezaeian gave Iran the 2-0 victory.


  1. Morocco’s 2-0 victory over Belgium


In what was perceived to be Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ of talent, the world’s second best national soccer team was outplayed by Morocco in a 2-0 defeat. Not much creativity was offered from Belgium going forward and the defense led by longtime stalwarts Jan Vertongethen and Toby Alderweireld were unable to match the speed of Morocco’s attack. A disallowed goal from Morocco in the first half kept the score goalless at the half.


However, the second half was when the match began to favor Morocco. The first goal came from a free kick from Roman Saïss that beat Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at his near post with 17 minutes left in the match. A second goal from Zakaria Aboukhlal ensured that Morocco would come out of this match with three points.

  • Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 victory over Argentina


Early on in the group stage, Argentina faced Saudi Arabia in what appeared as a complete mismatch. However, the outcome turned out to be completely different to what Argentina and soccer fans across the globe expected. Saudi Arabia, the 51st ranked nation in the world, defeated Argentina 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.


Argentina took the lead early on through a Lionel Messi penalty. They went on to have three goals disallowed in the first half and were caught offside six times. During the first half, the question was not if Argentina would win, but how many goals they would win by.


However, the second half changed everything. Saudi Arabia tied the score through Saleh Al-Shehri in the 48th minute. Five minutes later, Al-Dawsari gave Saudi Arabia the lead. Argentina dominated possession in the second half but they were unable to convert their chances into goals thanks to a heroic effort from Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais and the rest of the defense.


In Saudi Arabia, the day after the victory was declared a national holiday for students and workers. Meanwhile, the fans and media in Argentina deemed the loss as ‘humiliating’ and criticized the team for failing to perform on the world’s biggest stage.


There were many other upsets that deserve recognition but these are three that were some of the more notable ones throughout the tournament. If there is one thing that can be noted from these games, it is that there will definitely be more upsets during this World Cup. With so much of the tournament being held in the balance, it will be very interesting to see who advances and who does not.