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The Biggest Changes We’ve Noticed at the Qatar 2022 World Cup Compared to Russia

We’re deep into the thick of the action now at the 2022 World Cup, and tournament fever has certainly swept over Qatar after many had their doubts. Despite so much controversy the football has done the talking on the pitch and with this being the first-ever winter edition of a World Cup, the usual familiarities of warm weather at home and a trip to the beer garden may have been replaced, but the unmatched feeling of celebrating a goal or winning when sports betting will feel all too familiar. 

Lots of things have changed across the beautiful game since the last World Cup. France enters Qatar as champions, having beaten Croatia in the 2018 final, but since that night in Russia we’ve had a global pandemic, changes to the Champions League format and the proposal of the Super League. But how has the action on the pitch fared against the last tournament? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest changes we’ve noticed so far at Qatar 2022. 

The added time 

One notable change is the amount of time that is being added on at the end of each game. On average, the first round of group stage matches were producing an extra seven minutes at the end of each interval. This was first noticed in England’s opener against Iran, and while there was an injury which took over 10 minutes to sort out, the second period in which Gareth Southgate’s side effectively killed the game, hardly warranted the amount of time that was added on at the end. The refs in Qatar have clearly tried to stamp out any time- wasting, but it will be interesting to see if things carry on in the same vein towards the tournament’s latter stages. 

More upsets 

Another talking point is the number of shocks we’ve already seen. This tournament has been so unpredictable and having taken place throughout the domestic season, players are coming in sharper and leaving it all out on the pitch. While hosts Qatar would have been hoping for a miracle against Ecuador, their neighbours Saudi Arabia pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history when they beat Argentina 2-1. 

The South Americans had been unbeaten in their last 30 matches but began the tournament in the worst possible way. Then there was 2014 champions Germany, who after a disgraceful campaign in Russia looked to make a fresh start with Hansi Flick. However, they threw away a lead and lost to Japan in the most unlikely of circumstances. It has been a great start for the underdogs, redolent of the 2002 campaign where both South Korea and Senegal made the quarter-finals. 

Goalless draws

There have already been more 0-0 draws throughout the group stages in Qatar than there were throughout the entirety of Russia 2018. Understandably teams have to adjust to the extreme climate of the Middle East, and when you factor in the nerves of an opening game, that risk factor of losing any momentum at the first hurdle makes you realise that teams will want to sit in. However, these tentative starts have produced some underwhelming matches already, with Uruguay’s goalless draw with South Korea failing to see a shot on target throughout the whole match — the first time this has happened since the turn of the century. You’d hope things would pick up as the competition progresses.