The slate of semifinal games for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are now established after a weekend of major upsets that saw some of the top-ranked teams sent packing from Qatar while the champions now have an even bigger challenge ahead. Only four nations remain in competition for the world’s most coveted trophy.
The first major upset of the weekend was the loss to Croatia by Brazil. Brazil entered the 2022 World Cup ranked as the No. 1 team overall and last lifted the World Cup Trophy in 2002. Brazil was shocked by the quarterfinal loss to Croatia, who entered the competition ranked No. 12 and was a runner-up in 2018, the last time that the World Cup was held.
“Brazil did its best. Neymar scored a beautiful goal, and the team deserved much more. My compliments to all the players and the technical staff. Let’s keep looking forward, because in this life you can never give up,” President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tweeted following the loss.
After bringing the game to a tie, Croatia was able to knock off the Brazilian team in a penalty shootout. The team will now move on to the semifinals and will face Argentina, winners over the Netherlands. Argentina triumphed in a penalty shootout after allowing Netherlands a late goal to tie up the match in regular time.
Argentina entered the World Cup ranked No. 3 and has managed to win close games throughout the competition. The penalty shootout victory over the Netherlands was preceded by a 2-1 win over Australia and a 2-0 victory over No. 13 Mexico in Group C after dropping the opener to Saudi Arabia 2-1.
On the other side of the Round of 16 knockouts, France brought tears to England with a crushing goal at the 78-minute mark to break a 1-1 tie and take victory in regular time. England entered ranked No. 5, just behind No. 4 France. The French team is looking to capture the first back-to-back World Cup victories since Brazil completed the feat in 1958 and 1962.
“There’s fine margins—things at both ends that have ended up deciding the game,” said England manager Gareth Southgate. “But I think the way they’ve progressed as a group throughout this tournament has been fantastic. Congratulations to France, they know they’ve been in a hell of a game and we’ve given a top team a game that I don’t think we could have done any more.”
France will face off against Morocco in the semifinal. Morocco is the first African nation to ever make the journey from the group competition, through the knockout, and into the semifinal. Morocco’s unexpected arrival came on the strength of a 1-0 win over Portugal in the knockout. As the No. 22 globally ranked team of 32 qualifiers entering the competition, Morocco has faced long odds from day one and continues to earn victories.
The semifinal game slate will begin on December 13 at 1:00 pm CST with Argentina and Croatia facing off, then concludes on December 14 with France and Morocco hitting the pitch at 1:00 p.m. CST to conclude the round. The teams to lose the semifinal will then compete on December 17 for the third-place finisher ahead of the final that will be held on December 18.