#FIFA Insight

Episode 6: Tournament observations and final preview

FIFA, 17 Dec 2022


In the last of the Technical Study Group's press conferences, Arsène Wenger and Jürgen Klinsmann look back on the tournament and share their observations before Sunday's final.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ has produced some outstanding matches, including dramatic upsets and nail-biting penalty shootouts. Now, with just the final weekend of this festival of football still to go, Technical Study Group (TSG) experts Arsène Wenger and Jürgen Klinsmann provide a general review of all the fixtures they have observed. The observations they provide are supported by FIFA's Enhanced Football Intelligence and are compared with the data collected from FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™. After reivewing the tournament as a whole, the pair end their presentation by sharing their thoughts on the final. Which team will be prepared to take the first risk in football's biggest game?

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Tournament review: defence
The preferred defensive strategy at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ has undoubtedly been to pack the midfield and stop the opposition from attacking through the middle. Most teams adopted a compact, mid-block defence and pushed higher up the pitch than they did in Russia four years ago. The average position of defensive lines in Qatar has been 80cm further forward than it was in 2018, and goalkeepers have generally moved forward to reflect that change.

Tournament review: attack
This development has forced sides in possession to attack down the flanks. Although the number of crosses is down in comparison to 2018, the number of goals scored from them is up, suggesting improved quality. Of course, it is one thing to create chances, but converting them is quite another, and it's no coincidence that both France and Argentina can rely on clinical centre-forwards. Attacking out wide also puts more of a premium on the ability to beat defenders 1v1, an area in which many teams have struggled in recent years.

The final
France and Argentina are both are happy to sit off the opposition and hit them on the break, so an early goal could really open the game up. While much attention will focus on Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi, both teams have shown the importance of selecting players on form during tournaments. Neither Olivier Giroud nor Julian Àlvarez were expected to feature in their country's starting line-ups, but both have made crucial contributions. Which of them will be on the winning side on Sunday?

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