Saturday 17 December 2022, 14:00

TSG experts assess finalists and tournament as a whole

The curtain is about to fall on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, with the stage now set for Saturday’s match for third place between Morocco and Croatia, and Sunday’s final between France and Argentina. Ahead of the tournament’s last two acts, the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) gave its final assessments at a press conference held in Doha. Presenting the TSG’s conclusions and analysis of the two finalists was FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger, who was joined by former Germany striker and ex-Nationalmannschaft and USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“Quality-wise, it’s been an outstanding tournament. Overall, it’s been very interesting and very promising as well,” said Wenger by way of introduction. Voicing his agreement, Klinsmann said: “It’s been a wonderful experience, a FIFA World Cup organised to perfection. Being so close to all the stadiums has been amazing. It’s been very intense for us. Now we have the chance to discuss some of the trends we’ve seen and give our thoughts and ideas to associations around the world about what to look at and what to look out for going forward, based on what we’ve seen here over the past three and a half weeks in Qatar.” provides a summary below of the main points they made to the media, along with a link to the TSG press conference in full.

On mid-blocks and compactness in central areas

Arsene Wenger : “Overall, what we’ve seen is that mid-blocks and compactness in central areas have been the dominant way to play and to defend. That may be because the defensive line has moved a little bit higher up, but also because compactness when defending has been very important.”

Goals from crosses

Though there have been fewer crosses in open play than at Russia 2018 (13.5 per match in 2022 as opposed to 14.3 in 2018), there have been 21 more goals scored from crosses (45 in 2022 as opposed to 24 in 2018), an increase of 83 per cent. Jurgen Klinsmann: “When teams are so compact in the middle and they do it with so much more intensity, it makes it very difficult to find your forwards or your No. 9s in a certain way, or your strikers through the middle. As a consequence, teams try to get the ball out to the wings. They try to find some space down the touchline and put crosses in. But you need a No. 9 to finish things off. It’s crucial, then, that when you want to convert the opportunities you create – most of which come down the wings – you need to have players in the box that are capable of finishing and scoring goals. It’s no coincidence that France and Argentina are in the final, because they have the players to convert the chances created down the flanks.”

On the importance developing centre-forwards

Klinsmann: “Looking at coach education and player development as a whole, there will be a need in the future to develop strikers with the ability to take chances, to be clinical in the box and focus on what really matters. I think we’ll see a trend where people will be looking out for kids coming through youth development systems that are good finishers and also in leagues around the world. There’s a need for No. 9s in the future and it’s a role that will be discussed a lot after this World Cup.”

On Argentina and France’s paths to the final

Wenger: “Something that came through as important during the tournament was the need to find the best-balanced XI as quickly as possible. Some coaches took a little bit more time than others, and for some that was fatal, but in my view France and Argentina are two teams who learn quickly. They learned fast, especially Argentina, as they were in a very difficult position after the first game. It’s never easy to reach the final when you lose your first game, but they managed to do it. That means they’re mentally strong and that their coach found the right balance straightaway, in the second game.”

On where the final will be won and lost

Klinsmann: “We have two teams that are both similar in their approach. They don’t sit back and give the opposition a little more possession. They react so well to what happens in front of them, and then they counter-attack with explosive speed, because they have the individual players to do that. So the final will come down to quality. On one side you’ve got [Kylian] Mbappe, [Ousmane] Dembele and [Antoine] Griezmann, and on the other you’ve got [Lionel] Messi and a fantastic young kid in [Julian] Alvarez. He’s grown during the tournament and has got already four goals, when probably many of us wouldn’t have had him in the starting XI when you have the likes of [Angel] Di Maria or Lautaro Martinez sitting on the bench. It’s going to be a fascinating final for us coaches because we’re wondering who’s going to come out first and take more risks.”

Wenger: “Two players are under pressure to deliver special performances in the final: Mbappe for France and Messi, more than ever, to deliver something special for Argentina. Two very important players on either side have been [Olivier] Giroud, who was not expected to figure much at the start of the tournament, and Alvarez, who also broke his way into the team during the tournament. Both of them have been very influential and will certainly have an important part to play, though they themselves perhaps didn’t expect to be here at the start of the competition.”

Julian Alvarez celebrates with Lionel Messi of Argentina