Argentina were the ultimate winners in Qatar as they clinched the 2022 World Cup trophy in an epic final they won on penalties – but there have been numerous winners and losers throughout the tournament already.
Lionel Messi has starred for his country, sitting second for most goals and top of the assists chart, with Antoine Griezmann also drawing praise for his performances for Les Bleus, as well as several nations upsetting the odds in Qatar.
But for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mexico and Budweiser, it has been a tournament to forget. Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the winners and losers to come out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Argentina beat France in the World Cup final but there were many winners and losers in Qatar
Lionel Messi is well on course to pick up the player of the tournament award in Qatar, with the second-most goals (seven) and most assists (three) at the competition heading into the final, meaning he has had a hand in eight of his side’s 12 goals.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has done everything for his team and looks to be on the verge of winning the World Cup that many believe separates him from a place alongside Diego Maradona and Pele in the footballing pantheon.
It is his last tournament but Messi is certainly signing off in style – and showing his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo up in the process with his stellar performances.
Lionel Messi enjoyed a superb tournament as he scored seven and won the Golden Ball
Antoine Griezmann has been France’s underrated star of the World Cup
After playing the starring role for Les Bleus at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, it had appeared Antoine Griezmann’s place in the sun had come to a close, but the Atletico Madrid forward has proven that he can still cut the mustard for France.
Not only is he tied with Messi on three assists, but he has done it from a far deeper role than we might normally find him in, drawing comparisons with one of the world’s leading defensive midfielders, N’Golo Kante, from team-mate Paul Pogba.
Griezmann has not scored for France in Qatar, but that is what Kylian Mbappe is in the side for. Instead, he has proven the perfect hybrid midfielder for his side, making 11 tackles, six interceptions, three blocks and five clearances – as well as breaking his nation’s all-time assist record.
He also registered a 74th consecutive appearance for France in their shootout defeat in the final on Sunday.
Undoubtedly the story of the tournament has been Morocco’s heart-warming run to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
A team nobody would have suspected to cause such an uproar, the Atlas Lions toppled World Cup winners Spain, as well as Belgium and Portugal on their way to becoming the first African side to reach the last four in history.
Walid Regragui, Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi and Yassine Bounou were not names the average football fan was familiar with before the tournament, but they have ensured they will live long in the memories of spectators thanks to their fantastic, gutsy performances in Qatar.
Walid Regragui’s side became the first African team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup
There is not a club manager in the world who would not have been watching the World Cup through their fingers and with gritted teeth, but Pep Guardiola will have perhaps been the most on edge.
Manchester City had the most players in action in Qatar (17), so the stakes were perhaps higher for Guardiola and Co than any other side, however none of their key stars made it past the final four other than second choice striker Julian Alvarez.
England, Portugal and Spain had all fallen by the end of the second round, meaning the former Barcelona boss could sit back and enjoy the action as his side took home £4.5million from FIFA in compensation – more than any other side.
Pep Guardiola’s Man City pocketed £4.5m as a result of having 17 players in action in Qatar
There are very few England fans who would have seen Harry Maguire’s name on Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad list and been filled with confidence and faith in the Manchester United skipper.
But Maguire seemed to cast aside the cloud of doubt and speculation that has plagued him for what seems like years and put in a very solid if unspectacular showing for the Three Lions in Qatar.
Maguire made 18 clearances, four interceptions, seven tackles and three blocks for England, leaving Erik ten Hag calling for him to bring his form home with him – especially with regular centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane both making Sunday’s final.
Harry Maguire cast aside much of the doubt and speculation surrounding him at the World Cup
Morocco making the semi-finals of the World Cup is one of the great sporting underdog stories, but they were not the only side in Qatar to upset the odds.
Japan managed to muscle past both Spain and Germany to finish top of Group E – albeit by the barest of margins – Tunisia beat France 1-0, and Australia saw off Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark by the same scoreline.
But perhaps the biggest upset of all came on just the third day of the tournament, when Messi’s Argentina had their 36-game unbeaten run ended by minnows Saudi Arabia, the first of what was to become a series of big group stage upsets in Qatar.
Salem Al-Dawsari’s sealed one of the greatest World Cup upsets of all time against Argentina
AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud has never been considered one of the great strikers of all time, but the Qatar World Cup proved to be the stage for him to make a case for him being his country’s finest ever No 9.
A scorer of great goals, yes, but not a great goalscorer.
After equalling Thierry Henry’s 52-goal tally against Poland, the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker headed home the winner against England in the quarter-finals to pull clear of the man many consider to be the most lethal striker in history.
Giroud made headlines for not having a single shot on target in Russia, but in Qatar he made sure that his exploits in front of goal would be talked about in all the right ways.
Olivier Giroud scored a record-breaking 54th goal for France in the quarter-final vs England
As brilliant as Messi has been in Qatar, Cristiano Ronaldo has come far short of expectations with his performances for Portugal at the World Cup.
The 37-year-old came into the tournament on the back of an explosive tell-all interview with Piers Morgan, and leaves without a club after leaving United by mutual consent, and he is still looking for a new home.
Ronaldo was dropped for the first time since Euro 2008 in a knockout game of a major tournament, and he failed to win Fernando Santos back round – instead he was seen strutting off the pitch on his own after a 6-1 win over Portugal, before leaving the field in tears without any of his team-mates consolations against Morocco.
Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever play the game – there is an argument that he is the best ever in his own right – but his reputation will have taken an almighty hit after his poor showing in Qatar, with just one dubiously-won penalty goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo was dropped at a major tournament for the first time since 2008
An unlikely contender for the World Cup’s most consistent team in history, Mexico had not failed to reach the second round since 1978, but they fall way short of expectations in 2022.
El Tri were woeful going forward for the majority of their three group games, with their only goals coming from an outrageous free-kick and a tap-in from two yards out.
Former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino left his role as coach of the national team after 66 games as a result of the side’s poor showing. Not even cult hero Guillermo Ochoa could inspire any magic from the Mexicans as they limped out earlier than they might have expected.
Even cult hero Guillermo Ochoa came up short for Mexico as they crashed out in the groups
Budweiser had a nightmare World Cup, after Qatar made a controversial U-turn on the sale of alcohol at tournament venues, despite the American beer company’s £63m sponsorship deal.
As a result, what was set to be an incredibly financially beneficial winter for Budweiser, has left them red in the face, with Qatar officials even trying to ban the beer from the company’s own hotel.
The embarrassment does not stop there, though. As the tournament sponsors they have the honour of having their logo emblazoned on the Player of the Match awards, which are sure to receive plenty of air-time and camera attention and therefore earn the company big money.
But only if the logo is on show. Numerous stars – including PSG forward Mbappe – refused to show the beer brand’s logo on receipt of their award, with the Frenchman not wanting to promote the consumption of alcohol or junk food.
A ban on the consumption of alcohol was announced just two days before the start of the tournament
Kylian Mbappe hid Budweiser’s name after winning the player of the match three times at the Qatar World Cup so far
They may have entered the tournament as one of the favourites once again, but Belgium certainly did not play like it as they stumbled out of the competition in the group stages.
After a desperately fortunate win over Canada despite being miles off the pace, Roberto Martinez’s side became the first victims of giant-killers Morocco before labouring to a 0-0 draw with Croatia and crashing out after scoring just once in the tournament.
To make matters worse, there were rumours of mass discontent in the Belgian dressing-room thought to be caused by Kevin de Bruyne’s suggestions that the team were too old to win the tournament, and the squad splitting into multiple groups to travel home.
Martinez left his role as manager – despite boasting a 70% win record in charge of the Red Devils – and the rest of the team will hope to avoid as much mention of the competition as possible moving forward.
Kevin De Bruyne’s comments the squad’s age reportedly sparked disagreements in the camp
Roberto Martinez confirmed he was stepping down as Belgium’s coach after the tournament
With much of the pre-tournament debate raging over whether Qatar should have even been awarded a World Cup in the first place, the team failed to take any of the pressure away by performing on the pitch.
They became the first ever host nation to finish on zero points, having lost every game, and were the only ever team to lose their opening match as hosts in World Cup history.
There was very little expectation going into the competition, but organisers will have hoped for at least more than one goal when they are busily attempting to convince critics that there is indeed a football pedigree in the country.
Almoez Ali and Qatar failed to win a single point at the World Cup and only scored once – against Senegal in a 3-1 defeat
Neymar was in tears after his side were knocked out after a penalty shoot-out
Brazil seem to be everyone’s second team – barring maybe Argentina fans – and there was a genuine belief that Tite could win the World Cup for a nation that lives, bleeds and breathes football, maybe more so than any other side.
But their talisman was unable to take them back to the top of world football, with Neymar only managing to play in three games after picking up an injury against Serbia in the opening game.
He returned in the round of 16 and scored against both South Korea and Croatia after missing two group matches, but inexplicably chose not to take the all-important fourth penalty in his side’s shoot-out defeat to Croatia.
With the Selecao needing to score their spot-kick to have any hope of remaining in the team up stepped centre-back Marquinhos, who’s effort smashed back off the post to consign his side to a quarter-final exit. It was not his fault – he was probably just as bemused as everyone watching on that Neymar did not step up.
The 30-year-old has said it will be his final World Cup appearance, although he will only be 34 when the next tournament roles around, but after his personally disappointing end to Brazil 2014, he will have been hoping for far better this time around.
The 30-year-old picked up an injury in the group stages and missed two matches for Brazil
Last but not least, the refereeing at the World Cup has come under intense scrutiny and received unprecedented backlash, after a string of sub-par performances in Qatar.
We are unused to hearing players come out in the media and complain about refereeing, but both Maguire and Jude Bellingham both made their opinions clear in the after math of Wilton Sampaio’s heavily criticised showing in the quarter-finals.
But he as not alone. Daniele Orsato was blasted by Luka Modric after Croatia’s semi-final loss to Argentina, Morocco launched an official complaint against Cesar Ramos from their last four tie with France and Mateu Lahoz was only sent home after brandishing 15 yellow cards in Holland’s meeting with Messi and Co.
At a tournament showcasing the world’s best talents on the pitch, the minimum expectation is that those in charge of proceedings can live up to the task, but from the evidence on show in Qatar there is still quite a gulf in that respect.
Mateu Lahoz dished out an incredible 15 yellow cards during the Argentina vs Holland clash