We’re now into the last sixteen of the World Cup, and this tournament has for sure been incredibly enjoyable and memorable (on the field). There are plenty of teams in the last sixteen that many of us didn’t expect to see there such as Morocco, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and arguably Poland. But with every underdog that advances, there must be a team who disappoints. So with that said, here are the five most disappointing teams from the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In 2018, it felt like a seismic shock when Germany bowed out at the group stage, but at least then, their destiny was in their own hands in that final game. Now, with it having happened twice, perhaps this will really ring the alarm bells in German football. Germany came into this World Cup with a talented squad., Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rüdiger, Serge Gnabry. Leroy Sané, İlkay Gündoğan and Kai Havertz all play for elite clubs and in teenager Jamal Musiala, they have one of the brightest young talents in all of football. But then came the games themselves.
Germany took the lead against Japan, but would shockingly concede two late goals resulting in a stunning 2-1 defeat, the type of result that never used to happen to a machine like Germans at the World Cup. They were fortunate that Japan themselves suffered a shock result to Costa Rica, which combined with Germany’s 1-1 draw with Spain, meant that if they could win their game and Spain beat Japan, they would advance. But Germany made much tougher work against Costa Rica than they should’ve. The game was back and forth with both teams taking the lead at different points, and it wasn’t until very late on that the Germans would finally separate themselves from the Central Americans. It wasn’t enough, however, as Japan stunned the world again to beat Spain, leaving the Germans out of the last sixteen once again. The Germans went eighty years between first-round exits from 1938-2018, this time round though it only took them four years to once again go out in the first round. Once the very definition of consistency, only time will tell where the Germans got from here.
Twelve years. They had twelve years and enough money to buy the moon in order to put together a football structure that would create a golden generation for Qatar, and to be fair – we thought they did! This team won the 2019 Asian Cup and reached the semi-final of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, they have climbed over sixty places in the FIFA world rankings. It was always a long shot for Qatar to get out of this group, but they weren’t supposed to be anywhere near this bad!
In the opening game of the tournament, with the eyes of the world firmly on them, Qatar laid a massive egg. They were completely outclassed by Ecuador and they never recovered. It was a similar story against Senegal and the Netherlands, resulting in a historically bad statistic. Qatar became the only ever World Cup host to lose every single game, all while scoring just one goal. You might be able to buy your way into the World Cup, but you can’t buy three points.
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Denmark is not a traditional powerhouse, but I don’t think there has ever been a Denmark team that had as much expectation going into a World Cup as this squad. Since the summer of 2021, Denmark has reached the semi-finals of the Euros, had a very strong Nations League campaign in which they took six points off France, and the team has plenty of star power such as Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Christian Eriksen, Mathias Jensen, Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjær and Kasper Schmeichel.
Denmark had a relatively easy group in France (whom they’ve shown they can beat), Tunisia, and Australia, yet not only did they not win a game… not only did they only get one point…they only managed just one goal. Denmark failed to score against Tunisia in a game where they had much more possession and the majority of favorable stats, then in a must-win game against Australia – a team considered one of the weakest in the tournament, Denmark laid an egg and lost to a team that prior to kickoff had won just two World Cup games out of a possible nineteen games. This was not supposed to happen, this team was predicted by many to go on a deep run, and this will be seen back in Denmark as an unfortunate missed opportunity for De Rød–Hvide.
Technically Belgium failing to get out of the group is a shock but to be honest, it felt like an inevitability early on. Belgium was completely outplayed against Canada, owing a lot of their success on the day to keeper Thibaut Courtois saving a penalty that proved pivotal in a 1-0 win. But after that, it all went downhill. Talisman Kevin De Bruyne was incredibly pessimistic, stating that this team was too old to compete, and at the same time Eden Hazard also publicly said that his best days were far behind him.
Belgium played poorly against Morocco in a game that saw them lose 2-0 to the North African side, setting up a must-win game against Croatia. Belgium pushed, but just didn’t have enough, with star striker Romalu Lukaku missing many clear-cut chances which perfectly encapsulated Belgium’s campaign. The window for the Belgian golden generation is well and truly shut. Expect the Red Devils to look very different going forward.
Uruguay was considered by many as a dark horse team that had the potential to go far. A perfect mix of youth and experience with young blood Darwin Núñez, Rodrigo Bentancur, Federico Valverde, and Ronald Araújo blending with the veteran presence of Luis Suarez, Edison Cavani, Diego Godin, and Martín Cáceres. They were grouped with Portugal, Ghana, and South Korea, three teams that Uruguay would’ve considered themselves able to beat.
But it didn’t start all that inspiring against South Korea, La Celeste registered just one shot on target in what was a largely uneventful 0-0 draw. They followed that up with another underwhelming 2-0 defeat to Portugal, in which for large spells they looked second best – setting up a must-win grudge match against Ghana. Uruguay thought they had done enough with two first-half goals, and that indeed looked to be the case as the game was reaching its conclusion. However, South Korea took a shock lead against Portugal, which mean Uruguay was set to be eliminated on goal difference. Uruguay huffed and puffed but couldn’t get that elusive third goal, after three successive world Cups of getting out of the group, Uruguay crashed out in the first round. It’s the end of the road for many of their players. Hopefully the new generation of Uruguayan players can redeem the national side come 2026.
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