Odds and Ends through two group-stage matchdays in Qatar

Saudi Arabian players celebrate score after they took a 2-1 lead over Argentina while producing the biggest upset of the World Cup thus far. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Saudi Arabian players celebrate score after they took a 2-1 lead over Argentina while producing the biggest upset of the World Cup thus far. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /
world cup two-thirds group
Kylian Mbappé has scored three of France’s six goals thus far in Qatar, leading the defending World Cup champs into the Round of 16. (Photo by Stefan Matzke – sampics/Corbis via Getty Images) /

The second of three group-stage rounds has been completed and here’s what we know:

Host Qatar and Canada have been eliminated and defending champion France was the first of three nations to clinch a berth in the knockout round with one group-stage game still to play.

Les Bleus are joined in the Round of 16 by world No. 1 Brazil and FIFA’s ninth-ranked squad, Portugal.

It’s no surprise that Brazil is in the Sweet Sixteen as El Canarinho has advanced to the knockout round in every World Cup since the Round of 16 was established for the 1986 tournament held in Mexico City.

Biggest upsets in Qatar 2022

Far and away, the most surprising result of the 2022 World Cup thus far came on Day 3 (Nov. 22) when Saudi Arabia – ranked No. 51 in the world – stunned one of the tournament favorites, world No. 3 Argentina.

Lionel Messi nearly scored just 2 minutes into the match and shortly thereafter put the South Americans ahead from the penalty spot. But the 1978 and 1986 World Cup champions did little of note from then on.

Two splendid second-half goals – Saleh Al-Shehri (48’) and Salem Aldawasari (53’) – turned the tables and the Saudis found themselves sitting atop Group C after the first round, leaving los Albiceleste in last place. The result prompted King Salman bin Abdulaziz to decree a national holiday.

The second biggest upset came on Day 8 (Nov. 27) when world No. 22 Morocco 2-0 stunned No. 2 Belgium. The Belgians were a top 10 choice among oddsmakers before the tournament, but they looked meek and mild against Canada in their opener then caved in to Morocco’s late-game pressure.

The outcome was so disappointing that it produced riots back home in Belgium. The Red Devils will now have to defeat 2018 finalist Croatia to keep alive their Cup hopes

Two other startling results:

No. 24 Japan 2-1 over No. 11 Germany: The Samurai Blue scored twice in the final 15 minutes to swipe the rug out from under Die Mannschaft, putting the four-time World Cup winners at risk of dropping out in the group stage for the second time in a row.

No. 61 Ghana No. 28 South Korea: The reason this game is on the list has more to do with how uninspired Ghana looked during its 3-2 opening-game loss to Portugal. The Black Star coughed up a first-half two-goal lead then scored in minute 68 to put the dagger in.

Chasing the World Cup Golden Boot

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia and World Champion Kylian Mbappé lead the race for the scoring crown with three goals each.

Among the 12 players trailing with two goals scored are Lionel Messi (Argentina), Bukayo Saka (England), Olivier Giroud (France), Richarlison (Brazil), Bruno Fernandes (Portugal) and Spain teammates Álvaro Morata and Ferran Torres.

The 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner – England’s Harry Kane with 6 – has yet to score in Qatar.

Attendance records in Qatar

The four top marks for attendance thus far at the 2022 World Cup have all come at the Lusail Iconic Stadium which seats 88,966.

The Mexico-Argentina match on Nov. 26 was a sell-out, with all 88,966 seats occupied by fans watching Lionel Messi’s second-half magic (a goal and an assist) lead his team to a critical 2-0 victory.

The next three highest figures (with game results) are as follows:

88,668 – Portugal 2, Uruguay 0

88,103 – Brazil 2, Serbia 0

88,012 – Saudi Arabia 2, Argentina 1

El Jogo Bonito

Brazil extended its undefeated streak in World Cup group-stage games to 17, surpassing Germany’s record of 16 straight.

Starting with their first group-stage match in Italy 1990 (a 4-1 victory over Yugoslavia), the European giants went on a 12-4-0 run in group-stage games, finally succumbing to Serbia (0-1) in their second group-stage game of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The five-time World Cup winners from South America have an even more impressive streak, posting a 14-3 record in group-stage contests since opening the 2002 World Cup with a 2-1 triumph over Turkey in South Korea. Brazil has a +29 goal differential, outscoring its 17 opponents 38-9.

El Tri must embrace 'Dumb and Dumber' axiom. dark. Next

However, A Seleção has reached a World Cup final only once during its current streak, that coming in 2002, a 2-0 win over the Germans who reached two World Cup finals during their streak (2002 and 1990, a 1-0 win over Diego Maradona and Argentina).