The World Cup group stage wraps up

December 02, 2022
The World Cup certainly saved the best group play drama for last, with a wild day of results behind us and the stage set for another thrilling set of matches today, before the knockout round takes the pitch (and our special edition preview hits your inbox) tomorrow.
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SOURCE: MATTHIAS HANGST/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: MATTHIAS HANGST/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: The World Cup certainly saved the best group play drama for last, with a wild day of results behind us and the stage set for another thrilling set of matches today, before the knockout round takes the pitch (and our special edition preview hits your inbox) tomorrow.

Off the field: First things first: more nonsense from FIFA. The spineless sporting body said Wednesday that rainbow items and protest banners will be allowed into stadiums, a major reversal after organizers seized them throughout the group stage and threatened players with yellow cards if they wore “One Love” armbands on the pitch.

  • The switch-up notably came after Qatar and Iran, two countries with atrocious anti-LGBTQIA+ policies, were eliminated. What a coincidence.

On the field: A handful of soccer heavyweights packed their bags in the last 48 hours. World No. 2 Belgium, No. 11 Germany and No. 13 Mexico were all stunningly eliminated.

  • And with upsets come underdog breakthroughs. No. 22 Morocco is back in the Round of 16 for the first time since 1986, while No. 38 Australia Socceroos are hopping to the knockouts for the second time…ever. Crikey!

Looking ahead: Today’s final slate of group play is shaping up to be another doozy. No. 1 Brazil and No. 9 Portugal have already qualified in Groups G and H, respectively, but all other squads in those groups are still in contention, and if yesterday’s results are any indication, maximum chaos is likely.

  • The must-see match? No. 61 Ghana vs. No. 14 Uruguay at 10 a.m. ET. With a win, the Black Stars will punch their ticket to the knockouts and avenge their crushing 2010 loss at the hands (literally) of Uruguay’s Luis “the devil himself” Suarez.
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