My FIFA World Cup 2022 experience: matchdays, stadiums,atmosphere and much more.
Welcome back to my blog, and today we are BACK with a banger of an article. As you all may know, i had the extremely fortunate oppurtunity of being able to attend SEVEN World Cup matches as well as stay in Qatar for the entirety of the tournament. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, considering I have never attended a football match before this. As neither my birth country India or the country I call home Singapore were in the tournament, I decided to support England (the irony) as I fell in love with football due to the English Premier League. Now that you’ve gotten a brief intro, let’s dive into this article.
Matchday 1: England vs USA
Stadium: Al Bayt stadium
This match was my first ever football match, so despite the game turning out to be a snooze fest, I was quite overjoyed and awed at being able to see my footballing heroes and players I regularly discussed about or wrote about so close by. As I was residing in my relatives house nearby the stadium, getting to Al Bayt was relatively straight foward and quick. The pre-match atmosphere was electric, and you could hear chanting from the car park itself. Getting into the stadiums, ticketing, security and crowd control was very well done by Qatar throughout the tournament, and not once did I find myself in a sticky situation. My family’s seats were just in front of the goal, and we were merely 6 rows away from the field. Being able to see the players faces so clearly was breathtaking, and I gushed like a little boy once again whenever I spotted a player i admired or adored approaching our stand. The pre-match experience at every match was stellar, with games, music and much more lighting up the atmosphere. The match did not have much in it, but I felt USA held on well and were pretty close to a winner in the second half. England’s defence (Luke Shaw in particular) were spectacular, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the match being a bit of a bummer.
Matchday 2: France vs Denmark
Stadium: Stadium 974
The next match for us was at Stadium 974, a stadium I was excited for because of its unique and contemporary design. Getting there was a bit tougher, but we took the metro and easily made it on time. The chanting for this match began straight from the metro station, and we emerged to a beautiful skyline as well as an eruption of noise from street performers and fans alike. After a small walk to the stadium and a photoshoot, we had a smooth entry into the stadium. This time our seats were above the corner flag, but on the fourth floor instead. Nevertheless, we got something of a bird-eye’s view of the match, and enjoyed supporting France alongside a passionate and vocal support. Two Mbappe goals decided this match, and watching the player who has been an icon in my relatively short footballing journey so far score two spectacular goals was stunning. I’ve always admired the forward regardless of the media’s perception of him as a money hungry mercenary, and this performance validated my admiration of him.
Matchday 3: Brazil vs Cameroon
Stadium: Lusail Stadium
This match was actually not as memorable as I hoped it would be, but the one takeaway I had from this match was being in the simply gorgeous Lusail stadium. Lusail city was constructed solely for this tournament, and it added to the grandeur and beauty of this phenomenal stadium. Seating 80,000+ spectators, this stadium was electric and vibrant for all involved. Getting there took longer than it should have due to needing a shuttle bus from the carpark, but nevertheless it was still easily accessible and we got inside with ease despite the massive crowd. Pre-match vibes with the Brazilian fans were amazing, but in the end Cameroon won what was a gruelling match. To Brazil’s defence, they played their second team but this lacklustre showing was a foreshadowing to what was to come. Nevertheless, watching Antony (who has quickly become a favourite of mine despite recent criticism) was quite satisfying and I took solace in the fact that the stadium and atmosphere made up for what was a disappointing match.
Matchday 4: England vs Senegal
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
This was by far my favourite match out of the 7 I attended, purely because of how well England played that day. This was also the first of 3 matches I would be attending in a row, a prospect which was quite thrilling for someone who loves football as much as I do. Once again, getting there was a breeze and our seats were a bit higher up on the first floor stand than usual but right in front of the air conditioning which made this match an even more enjoyable experience. We were sat right next to a cameraman as well so that was an interesting aspect to the experience as well. Both sets of fans were spectacular that day, and seeing Jude Bellingham play was simply enthralling. The silky movement and precise passing was something I’ve never seen from a player of that age, and watching him and Declan Rice run the midfield was blissful for a football romantic like me (quite daring of me to assign myself that title but I truly am in love with this sport). Sitting with the England fans and celebrating every goal was an experience unlike any other, and I truly enjoyed myself in this match. Seeing England finally score in a live match as well as seeing Kane score a goal was truly gratifying and this match will remain etched in my memory forever.
Matchday 5: Brazil vs South Korea
Stadium: Stadium 974
This match was another high-scoring match, and it was all Brazil this time around. We took a similar route to the match as the last time, and our seats were once again high up but above the goal this time. It only felt right to support a fellow Asian team which was why I wore pink to show my true support for South Korea. However, much to my dismay, South Korea crumbled like soggy apple pie and Brazil utterly demolished them. Regardless, the Koreans fought back and got a consolation wonder goal from their no.8. Watching Son Heung-Min live despite him not being at his best was something my brain refused to process, especially since he is an icon in South Asia. His footballing ability and achievements have paved the way for future Koreans and Asians to try their hand at football, and his story will serve as proof that nothing is impossible regardless of where you come from. Brazil, meanwhile, were at their very best this match, which did satisfy my footballing heart, and seeing the free flowing football I had craved for against Cameroon made up for the astounding loss South Korea took. That South Korea team did well this world cup regardless of how it ended, and they have definitely forged a path for future Asian teams to make their mark on history as well.
Matchday 6: Portugal vs Switzerland
Stadium: Lusail Stadium
While England vs Senegal was my favourite match, this match was by far the most entertaining. I had decided to support Portugal because of Bruno Fernandes well ahead, and oh boy was I in for a treat. Getting there by metro this time was a bit easier, especially since the entrances are right in front of the metro exits. We got decent seats right in the middle of the stand above the goals, though we were still on the fourth floor. Portugal fans were spectacular and Portugal’s quality was well established from the start of the match. Pepe’s opener, Goncalo Ramos’ hat-trick, Raphael Guerreiro’s thumping finish and a little shimmy and finesse shot from Raphael Leao were all memorable and thrilling goals to watch, and I enjoyed every minute of this match. Seeing Ronaldo come on and the whole crowd chanting for him was mind-blowing (regardless of my feelings regarding his sudden exit from Man Utd), and I truly relished this match and the memories I made in that deafening, glimmering Lusail stadium.
Matchday 7: France vs England
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
This match was all about the feeling of bittersweetness. While heading to the stadium, the fact that this was my last FIFA World Cup match and football match for the foreseeable future was quite depressing, but I kept my spirits up with the knowledge that this clash would be an iconic one. And iconic it was. The stadium was electric, fans were wild and passionate, and we were sat right in the middle of the England stand. My cousin and I somehow got our moment to shine by appearing on the stadium TV as well as meeting the stadium host, while my family in the France stand (we were split up as we were a massive group of 12) also appeared on the TV at half time much to our delight. The match itself was a thrilling and tense clash, with England definitely dominating but France having more grit and courage. France clearly were the inferior side, but they got lucky with the Kane miss. We all know how “amazing” Lloris is at saving penalties, and Kane definitely could have scored that one. He didn’t. It was devastating especially since one moment the ball was on the spot, and the next moment it hit some poor old man 2 rows in front of us. We could literally see the moment which knocked England out. Devastating for me, but I still couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride and satisfaction of how WELL England played (considering they’re managed by a former Middlesborough manager). Bellingham and Rice once again got my heart racing with some mouth-watering play and despite the disappointment of being knocked out I could still hold my head high and say I watched England play the match of their life. Nevertheless, as I stated earlier, this match had been defined by the inevitable emotion of bittersweetness.
Best stadium: Al Bayt stadium. Very near to where I was staying, and second largest one. Was very well maintained and got the best seats here as well so simply loved my time in this stadium.
Best Fans: Senegal fans. They were chanting throughout that 3–0 loss, and their passion and dedication was second to none in all the matches I’ve been to.
Best team performance I watched: England vs France. I will die on a hill over this opinion for sure. England looked like a unit, and ran rounds around France. France were blessed to have a big game player like Giroud score.
Best individual performance: Goncalo Ramos against Switzerland. Deserved every one of those 3 goals and more, was simply unbeatable and unstoppable. Perhaps the greatest individual performance I will ever see.
Favourite moment: Kane scoring against Senegal
Favourite goal: Mbappe’s match winner against Denmark/ Goncalo Ramos’ third goal against Switzerland/ Richarlison’s stunner against South Korea
Favourite player: Jude Bellingham; it would be heartbreaking to see him move to Liverpool considering how much joy he brought me this world cup. Watching him play was bliss and truly opened my eyes to how football should be played. If you’re reading Jude, come to Man United and form a legacy!
Conclusion: This tournament was a wild and unexpected one, with many iconic goals, moments and memories happening as well as the world’s greatest footballer (officially) finally lifting the cup that had been out of his reach thus far. This World Cup was more than just a tournament. It was a story; a fable; a tale that many would tell for years to come. From how Morocco had a fairytale run to the semi finals, to how Argentina and Messi lifted the World Cup despite an audacious and unexpected Mbappe Hat-trick, to how Asian football forged a legacy through Japan, Australia and South Korea’s unforeseen run to the knockouts. In the end, this World Cup formed a core memory for me and many more and has set a precedent for all the World Cups to come.