The 2022 World Cup has delivered moments of quality, chaos and drama but which team has enriched the tournament the most? We’ve taken a firmly unscientific approach to answer that very question.
There are many criteria to consider when assessing the vibes of each of the 32 World Cup countries. Some have delivered wonderful football, while others have embraced sheer randomness to give us nuggets of joy to keep us warm during a cheerless winter.
And, just like the opposite of love is indifference rather than hate, it’s almost better to bring bad vibes to the greatest sporting event on earth than none at all. We’ve penalised teams that bought nothing to the table.
But which side has contributed the most to our memories of Qatar 2022? We’ve ranked the vibes of each side from least to most.
The most vibeless side we can remember at any international tournament and a warning to FIFA against letting non-footballing nations host the World Cup.
Will they heed this lesson? Will they f*ck.
A tournament as muted as their Hummel kits, although Andreas Cornelius did contribute the miss of the tournament against Tunisia.
But this was a supine effort from the Euro 2020 semi-finalists. Can Norway qualify next time instead, please?
How has that not gone in!!
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 22, 2022
Wales bought novelty value and their passionate fans to Qatar but, in the end, their 64-year wait for World Cup football amounted to a single Gareth Bale penalty.
Comprehensive defeats against Iran and England solidified the feeling that Wales were the worst European qualifiers for decades.
But at least Wayne Hennessey’s goose-stepping red card showed efforts to educate him about the Nazis haven’t gone to waste.
Wayne Hennessey there, trying to eliminate Iran from… The Royal Rumble? pic.twitter.com/J73gBHqgJB
— Ben Carr (@DoctorBenjy) November 25, 2022
Yes, Poland got through the group stage for the first time since 1986 but they were godawful to watch and their last 16 exit was the footballing equivalent of opening a window to clear a bad smell.
Props to Wojciech Szczesny for an excellent pair of penalty saves though.
We normally associate World Cup meltdowns with France or the Netherlands but Belgium took inspiration from their neighbours to become 2022’s biggest car crash.
After Kevin De Bruyne had publically slammed their chances pre-tournament, the 2018 semi-finalists played two-and-a-half games of insipid football before Romelu Lukaku’s string of increasingly preposterous misses against Croatia sent them out.
And, to add the cherry on this turd-filled cake, four squad members allegedly paid for separate flights home. A glorious mess.
A curiously bloodless showing from Mexico until, like a kid only starting to revise the night before an exam, they almost pulled off a Houdini-like escape against Saudi Arabia.
They would have been than Poland in the last 16, but not by much.
We expected fireworks from Uruguay but they only came after an elimination which saw the squad empty the entire stock of Toys “R” Us from their prams.
Temper tantrums are an essential part of any World Cup and the entire globe chortled at the sight of a crying Luis Suarez. But Uruguay should’ve been capable of so much more.
Uruguay are FURIOUS! 😡
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 2, 2022
Serbia produced moments of thrilling football – both of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goals were of the highest quality – but were undermined by the woolliest defence since Boris Johnson was last caught with his trousers down.
And their flock of skinheads were supported by some of the nastiest fans in Qatar, who spent the match against Switzerland displaying fascist slogans and aiming racist chants towards ethnic Albanians.
Look beyond the binary scorelines (0-0, 0-1, 1-0) and this was the most interesting Tunisia side in World Cup history with hordes of passionate fans, Wahbi Khazri dancing through the French defence and defenders screaming with the heat of a thousand suns after making a tackle.
It still wasn’t that interesting, mind. But this was a better effort than normal from the Tunisians.
23. Costa Rica
Arguably the most limited non-Qatar side at the finals, Costa Rica managed to get battered 7-0, shithouse a win over Japan and put the fear of god into Germany before succumbing to elimination.
We’ll take that from a side relying on the creaking bones of Bryan Ruiz for creative inspiration.
Whilst Canada lost all three matches, in a group that ended up containing two semi-finalists, they at least played with the energy of a 12-year-old that’s mainlined Haribo into their veins.
They’ll surely come to regret Alphonso Davies’ missed penalty against Belgium in their opening match.
They got through their group, as expected, and Ismalia Sarr’s no-look penalty against Ecuador was cooler than the other side of the pillow.
But we can’t help thinking Senegal would have been much more interesting had Sadio Mane been fit. At least their colourful fans bought joy to everybody who isn’t Roy Keane.
Roy Keane enjoying the Senegal Fans 😂pic.twitter.com/NSJt0uu676
— My Greatest 11 (@MyGreatest11) December 4, 2022
20. United States
After their absence from Russia 2018, the USMNT returned with a team capable of playing some excellent football until they reached their opponents’ penalty area.
But, despite getting a proper schooling from the Netherlands, there’s plenty of hope for the 2026 co-hosts.
Boring in their first two matches, and hopeless against Portugal, Switzerland’s main contribution to Qatar 2022 was a schizophrenic win over Serbia and Granit Xhaka calling out the entire opposition bench by grabbing his cojones.
Granit Xhaka telling all of Serbia to blow him is aggressive…
— Thank you for retweeting (@SwissBlogger) December 3, 2022
Whisper it quietly but Germany were unlucky to fall at the group stages, undone by a collapse against Japan that we’re still struggling to get our heads around.
With Jamal Musiala in their ranks, a player that heroically ignored the existence of fellow team-mates whenever he got the ball, you always felt Germany could save themselves until time literally ran out on them.
And their hand-over-mouth protest, much mocked after their early exit, will resonate down the ages. Some things are more important than football.
17. Saudi Arabia
Manager Herve Renard was the darling of the opening round after masterminding the jaw-dropping win over Argentina, complete with a Mike Bassett-esque team talk, but couldn’t quite take the Saudis into the next round.
Still, their kamikaze approach was a breath of fresh air even if we’re still unenthusiastic about the prospect of Riyadh 2030.
Hervé Renard 🇸🇦 half time team talk against Argentinapic.twitter.com/J4kcMM9CQY
— FIFA World Cup 2022 (@2022_QatarWC) November 26, 2022
Managed by Carlos Queiroz, a man normally so cautious that he opens a packet of crisps with scissors, Iran belied stereotypes with a performance of attacking gusto against Wales.
Despite another first-round exit, the sight of their players refusing to sing the national anthem in protest against a barbaric regime was one of the most stirring moments of the tournament.
Every World Cup needs an underdog that plays sprightly football spearheaded by an underwhelming Premier League striker from yesteryear and Ecuador, with Enner Valencia in fine form, ticked that box in 2022.
It’s a shame that, after outplaying the Dutch, they bottled it against Senegal as they’d have been a fascinating prospect in the last 16.
Another curate’s egg tournament from Spain, for whom the 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica must go down as the biggest false dawn in World Cup history.
Their karaoke version of Tiki-Taka was incredibly easy on the eye but, when challenged, it all fell apart in time-honoured fashion and gave Luis Enrique the perfect excuse to concentrate on his Twitch career instead.
Luis Enrique on top form again with this on Ferran Torres, who is dating his daughter.
"If he scores and does the baby dummy celebration, I'd sub him off immediately and he wouldn't see a football pitch for some time."pic.twitter.com/FRD9WvYSeg
— Euan McTear (@emctear) November 25, 2022
13. South Korea
Korea were quite fortunate to progress through the groups but their late winner against Portugal was the catalyst for Uruguay’s epic meltdown and, for that, we’re eternally grateful.
They even took the game to Brazil but, at 4-0 down, their attempts at defending made Ally McCoist cry which keeps them out of our top 10.
Frequently excellent, and unlucky to lose a high-quality match against France, England’s campaign was free of the usual cocktail of ineptitude and hubris.
But what memories will we be left with? Swatting aside Iran, Wales and Senegal is all well and good, but England had the chance to go down in history and, unless they win in 2024 or 2026, this tournament will go down as a huge missed opportunity.
Portugal promised more than they delivered, again, but the sight of a dropped Cristiano Ronaldo watching his replacement score a hat-trick in the last 16 demolition of Switzerland bought tears of mirth to numerous glass eyes.
And, with a squad packed with excellent young talent, the future will look even brighter when they appoint Jose Mourin…oh.
We got exactly what we wanted from Ghana; a beguiling mix of spell-binding football and calamitous defending, Inaki Williams being a slip away from the funniest goal scored at any World Cup and their coach taking a selfie with a crying Son Heung-min.
And they got to drink pints of Uruguayan tears in the group decider. Who cares if they didn’t go through either?
"Look at Ronaldo's face!" 😲
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 24, 2022
A gutsy showing from Australia, whose squad of Scottish-based talents won admiration for their whole-hearted approach and willingness to overcome their limitations.
From Aziz Behich almost scoring an all-time classic against Argentina to the presence of Jason ‘Cumdog’ Cummings and 4am-risers in Melbourne showing Wembley Boxpark what genuine limbs look like, Australia have enriched this tournament.
Up until the quarter-finals, the admirably mad Louis van Gaal was the Netherlands’ star performer and they looked to be going out with a whimper to Argentina.
But the introduction of Wout Weghorst saw the Dutch get it launched with eye-moistening brilliance and Weghorst’s 100th-minute equaliser – from that free-kick – genuinely gave us goosebumps.
Despite defeat, their dedication to matching Argentinian shithousery gave us the pettiest, and most brilliant, game of the finals.
Life is certainly never dull under Louis.
I don't think we can discount the possibility that Van Gaal is in indeed a Punjabi uncle pic.twitter.com/Izz9Ny6WyR
— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) December 3, 2022
N’Golo Kante. Paul Pogba. Karim Benzema. Lucas Hernandez. Christopher Nkunku.
France have been without five world-class talents and still marched to another World Cup final. Yes, they’ve looked shaky at times but the reinvention of Antoine Griezmann as a deluxe footballing hamster has been a masterstroke.
Inarguably the dominant force of European football over the past 25 years, there’s a feeling France are more respected than adored.
But we doubt Didier Deschamps gives a damn and that, in its own way, is very cool.
Scorers of the best individual goals (Richarlison vs. Serbia, Neymar vs. Croatia) and best team goal (Richarlison vs. South Korea), Brazil teased us with sunshine football worthy of their 1970 greats.
Unfortunately, the decision not to pick a functioning midfield backfired against the zombies of Croatia but at least they boiled the piss of Proper Football Men with their dancing goal celebrations.
Have Roy, Graeme and the rest seen how grim it is out there? Grasp happiness wherever you can, we say.
A wonderfully bonkers tournament from Cameroon, who veered from head-in-hand incompetence to joyous moments of quality within the space of minutes.
Their 3-3 draw with Serbia, where Vincent Aboubakar produced the greatest scoop since Haagen Dazs unveiled its salted caramel tub, was the perfect send-off to 10am football.
And Aboubakar wrote himself into World Cup folklore after scoring the winner against Brazil, taking his shirt off to receive a second yellow card and walking off with a beaming smile.
The 2026 edition would feel incomplete without a dash of Cameroonian chaos.
Vincent Aboubakar! 🙌🇨🇲
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) December 2, 2022
Croatia enjoyed a panoramic view of the precipice ever since Romelu Lukaku’s disaster class in their group decider but no side thrived under pressure quite like them.
A side that oozed tenacity, Croatia never knew when they were beaten and acted as the stone in the shoe of more-vaunted opponents like Japan and Brazil.
Easily beaten by Argentina in the end, with Josko Gvardiol’s credentials as Defender of the Tournament shredded by Lionel Messi, but Luka Modric and company can be proud of their efforts in Qatar.
After defecating with their trousers on against Saudi Arabia, Argentina briefly looked to be losing the plot as another early exit beckoned.
Not on Lionel’s watch, though. While Scaloni settled upon a functional side, Messi has made the tournament his own with a string of awe-inspiring moments to lift Argentina from the canvas.
Backed by some of the loudest fans in Qatar, they’ve improved with every game and have uncovered a new goalscoring star in Julian Alvarez. They’d be worthy winners.
If you’re a coach, you tell Gvardiol that he did very well. Stood his ground, didn’t put his foot in, forced him outside, made sure not to foul. Everything you’re taught to do.
But then, in a few seconds, Lionel Messi destroys your entire belief systempic.twitter.com/u8eO1PNGhJ
— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) December 14, 2022
Clips of their fans tidying the stadiums became slightly old-hat but Japan’s wonderful football was appointment viewing during the dog days of November.
Both Germany and Spain wore the disorientated look of a recently-released hostage after Japan had finished with them, while their ability to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory against Costa Rica somehow made them even more endearing.
Their last 16 elimination was confirmed after three of the worst penalties ever taken but we can’t wait to see more of Japan in 2026.
Qatar may have hosted the first Arabic World Cup but this has firmly been Morocco’s tournament.
A host of new stars were born – from Bono in goal to Sofyan Amrabat and Azzedine Ounahi in midfield – as the Atlas Lions made history by becoming Africa’s first World Cup semi-finalist.
And the sight of the jubilant players dancing with their mothers after every victory was the definition of life-affirming.
Even if they were unfortunate to lose against France in the semis, nobody has defined this tournament quite like the brilliant Moroccans.
Video of Sofiane Boufal dancing with his mum on pitch ❤️
After Morocco 🇲🇦 sealed historic semi-final spot at #FIFAWorldCup
— Mimi Fawaz (@MimosaFawaz) December 10, 2022