La Copa del Mundo, le Coupe de Monde, the World Cup. 32 countries, all fighting to lift that world-renowned trophy. With 32 of the world’s best countries playing each other, it was almost impossible to predict who would win the whole thing, but early on a few favorites emerged.
The top contenders in the 2022 World Cup based on the power rankings were Brazil, France, and Argentina. Yet, historically the power rankings have been wrong, and teams who were lower on the power rankings end up surprising us. Going into the tournament, I thought that Brazil, France, and Argentina would make it far, but I did not believe that they would go all the way and win the biggest trophy in all of sports. Instead, I believed that Spain would end up winning the whole thing.
In 2010, Spain won the South Africa World Cup, and they continued to put on strong showings in international tournaments. In the 2020 Euros, Spain had a good run that saw them into the final match with Italy in which they came out on the losing side. In the game, Spain dominated the ball and had the majority of the possession. It appeared as if Spain was going to win, but with a bit of luck, Italy was able to pull through in a penalty shootout. Spain was dominating the whole match, and that is what they do every match. Although Spain lacked a high-level striker such as someone like Mbappe or Haaland, they’re still able to succeed because of their play style. They like to keep the ball and move it around instead of the typical way teams play which is to get quick counter-attacks and get goals that way. Spain’s star-studded midfield including Barcelona veteran Sergio Busquets and twenty-year-old star Pedri González support the team’s play style perfectly.
This led me to believe that Spain would win the World Cup. Unfortunately, Morocco knocked Spain out of the tournament in the Round of 16 despite Spain dominating every team they played in this World Cup. They put up ridiculous stats such as ridiculous amounts of possession they had every game, which reached as high as 83% against Japan and did not go lower than 65% against a strong German team. Spain showed just how good of a young team they are with their beautiful ball movement and ability to keep opposing teams off the ball. Yet, Spain’s weakness was made apparent game after game; the lack of a clinical striker. Spain was able to create an abundance of goal-scoring chances, but they had nobody who could finish those chances. This would ultimately lead to their exit in the Round of 16. In its game against Morocco, Spain held over 77% possession and completed over 1000 passes, but regardless of this dominance, Spain wasn’t able to capitalize on any of their chances. The game eventually went to penalties, and with some bad luck, Spain lost, and their World Cup run ended tragically.