Some have already renamed it the Mondial des surprises. On the ground, first, with defeats resembling earthquakes. Lionel Messi’s Argentina got the ball rolling by losing to Saudi Arabia (1-2) on Tuesday, then Germany decided to follow suit against Japan (1-2) on Wednesday. But there is also everything that comes from the meadow, like the famous presentation of the man of the match trophy, which always has the gift of inflaming our (and your) debates. Everyone should however find a point of agreement on two recent choices which surprised a large majority of observers: Luka Modric during Croatia-Morocco (0-0) and Kevin De Bruyne after Belgium-Canada (1-0). Two artists, yes, but not really at the top of their game for their debut.
“I don’t think I played a great game (…) I don’t know why I received this trophy“, the Belgian was surprised when he received this kind of large red glass sponsored by Budweiser, a famous brand of American beer. Even he would have voted for one of his opponents, to whom “all the merit” came back on this meeting according to his words. So, how to explain this choice? “Maybe it’s because of my name“, recognized the handyman of Manchester City. He probably got it right.
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How does the voting system work?
First and foremost, it is important to set the scene. On its official website, FIFA recalls that the “Budweiser trophy” is awarded by the public. Thus, it is possible to vote for the player of the match “between the 60th and 88th minute” on the website of the world body and “click on the ‘vote now’ button when the election is open“.”You will then see a list of players sorted by minutes played, or you can filter the results by team, position or you can simply search for your player of the match“, can we read. However, the sine qua none condition to vote and try to win a polaroid photo of the player of the match: to be registered on the FIFA + site.
“The same person can only participate once in the competition for one and the same match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (…) This competition is organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association“, then indicates the regulation, which specifies that the vote is reserved “only to people who are at least 18 years old, of legal drinking age and to participate in the competition.” To sum up: anyone of legal age can participate in the competition provided they are registered, whether or not they are watching the match in question.
In 2018, Griezmann was also surprised
Precedents like those of De Bruyne and Modric, there are tons of them. Often, some people are criticized for confusing “player of the match” with “star of the team” or “best player in the squad”. This twenty-second edition of the World Cup in Qatar is no exception and fits perfectly into the same vein. Here is a first assessment at the end of this first day of the World Cup:
- Qatar – Ecuador (gr A): 0-2 – Enner Valencia
- England – Iran (gr B): 6-2 – Bukayo Saka
- Senegal – Netherlands (gr A): 0-2 – Cody Gakpo
- United States – Wales (gr B): 1-1 – Gareth Bale
- Argentina – Saudi Arabia (gr C): 1-2 – Mohammed Alowais
- Denmark – Tunisia (gr D): 0-0 – Aissa Laidouni
- Mexico – Poland (gr C): 0-0 – Guillermo Ochoa
- France – Australia (gr D): 4-1 – Kylian Mbappé
- Morocco – Croatia (gr F): 0-0 – Luka Modric
- Germany – Japan (gr E): 1-2 Shuichi Gonda
- Spain – Costa Rica (Gr E): 7-0 – Gavi
- Belgium – Canada (gr F): 1-0 – Kevin De Bruyne
In this long list, the logic is generally respected. Enner Valencia, for example, achieved the first double of the World Cup, leading its selection to success, Guillermo Ochoa saved a penalty from a certain Robert Lewandowski and Shuichi Gonda was impassable with Japan. Others are more debatable, such as Gareth Bale, scorer but long a ghost of himself on the lawn, or even Kylian Mbappé, certainly decisive with the Blues against Australia but who has often sinned by excess of individualism and his too many touches of the ball. In his place, Olivier Giroud would not have made a spot. But let’s be clear, the Parisian didn’t steal anything either. We are far from the De Bruyne and Modric cases where the debate, at least, is not likely to drag on.
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Messi, the controversy of 2014
If there will probably always be a way to debate, which is the very essence of football, the “MOTM” (Man of the match) elections therefore continue to make people talk over the years and, above all, in major competitions. Flashback to 2018: elected man of the match of the France-Australia match (2-1), Antoine Griezmann declared that he would have it “rather given” to his teammates N’Golo Kanté to Lucas Hernandez. Lucide, Grizou.
In 2014, the title of best player of the World awarded to Lionel Messi was greatly controversial. But it had been awarded not by the public, but by the FIFA Technical Study Group, otherwise known as the TSG, consisting of “seasoned specialists who have accumulated experience at the highest international level, as a current or former national coach“.
There too, there would be reason to complain. On three of the first four winners, Paolo Rossi in 1982, Diego Maradona in 1986 and Romario in 1994, nothing to report. But on Salvatore Schillaci (1990), Ronaldo (1998), Oliver Kahn (2002) and Diego Forlan (2010), we would still have more doubts. For Zinédine Zidane in 2006, it’s up to you. And the fiery debate that will ensue.
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