World Cup Qatar 2022 | The best pictures

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It produced the greatest final in generations, culminating in (arguably) the world’s greatest current player, Lionel Messi, hoisting aloft football’s most prized trophy.

Now the best pictures taken throughout a thrilling World Cup have been carefully compiled, capturing all the key moments and ensuring the drama is preserved from a competition that gripped the world from start to finish.

FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with the FIFA World Cup trophy following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Chris Brunskill / Fantasista
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with the FIFA World Cup trophy following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Kieran McManus / Shutterstock
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Lionel Messi of Argentina admires the FIFA World Cup Trophy at the awards ceremony after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Matthew Ashton / AMA
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
A general view of Lusail Stadium is seen as Argentina lift the FIFA World Cup Trophy after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © James Williamson / AMA
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with Leandro Paredes at the moment of victory during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Ben Radford / Visionhaus

It was the final itself that presented the perfect platform for Messi to showcase his skills and emphasise again his importance to Argentina. But while his light might be fading, ever so slightly, with each passing year, there emerged ample evidence that the next rising star has well and truly already arrived.

For Kylian Mbappé to hit a hat-trick in the final, but still finish on the losing side, is ample enough evidence of what a star he already is and what a showdown the world witnessed as Argentina and France went toe to toe, throughout 90 minutes, then extra time, and then the ultimate penalty decider.

FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates scoring his second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Gary Prior / Visionhaus
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Angel Di Maria of Argentina celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Adrian Dennis / AFP

Nail biting stuff, and only those with long memories would be able to recall any finals that came close to matching this epic encounter.

Wembley 1966 and England’s 4-2 extra-time win over West Germany, as it then was, would be right up there, ranking as the best ever final, certainly for England fans, while four years later, in Mexico, the late, great Pele inspired Brazil to a 4-1 victory over Italy with some of the most free flowing football ever seen in a final.

As if to prove just how special a World Cup Final hat-trick is, Sir Geoff Hurst’s three goal haul against West Germany nearly 60 years ago was the only previous time it had ever happened until the magnificent Mbappé stepped up in Qatar but this time, he couldn’t quite fire France to victory, unlike in Russia back in 2018. 

Messi crowned king of the world, and Mbappé the young pretender, next in line to the throne, feature prominently in a picture gallery that brings the tournament back to life. 

Adding emphasis to the changing of the guard at the top of the tree, Cristiano Ronaldo – who can also make a fair claim to be the greater ever to play the game, doesn’t even make the cut, but there is space for Harry Kane after his penalty miss against France, and for Brazil’s Neymar, reduced to tears, as more dreams faded then turned to dust.

FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Kylian Mbappe of France is blocked by three Moroccan players during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Semi-Final match between France and Morocco on 14 December 2022 at Al Kohr. © Charlotte Wilson / Offside
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Julian Alvarez of Argentina celebrates scoring their second goal with Lionel Messi, Rodrigo De Paul and Nahuel Molina as Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic and teammates look dejected during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Semi Final match between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar on December 13, 2022. © Carl Recine / Reuters
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Harry Kane of England misses his second penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. © Adrian Dennis / AFP
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Harry Kane of England reacts after missing from the penalty spot during the FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar. Picture date: Saturday December 10, 2022. © Adam Davy / Press Association
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Neymar and Dani Alves of Brazil look dejected after their sides’ elimination from the tournament after a penalty shoot out loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium on December 09, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. © Michael Steele / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Croatia players celebrate after their victory over Brazil in the penalty shoot out as Marquinhos of Brazil reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium on December 09, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. © Michael Steele / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Neymar of Brazil fights for the ball with Josko Gvardiol of Croatia during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha, on December 9, 2022. © Adrian Dennis / AFP

The dramatic pictures have been compiled by the Football Photographers’ Association, the FPA, in a gallery of the best photographs taken from first whistle to last. 

Members of the FPA had risen to the challenge of covering this enormous global spectacle, producing some absolutely stunning images. 

Thirty four members of the FPA across all areas of the industry that involved international agencies, national newspapers, independent agencies and freelancers had travelled to Doha, taking in 64 matches spanning 29 days in eight different stadiums.

FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Luka Modric of Croatia plays with his daughter after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 3rd Place match between Croatia and Morocco at Khalifa International Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Alex Livesey / Danehouse
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Lionel Messi of Argentina gets away from Cody Gakpo, Marten de Roon and Virgil van Dijk of Netherlands during the FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. © Adam Davy / Press Association
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Gavi of Spain heads the ball next to Sofiane Boufal of Morocco during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Morocco and Spain at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 6, 2022. © Glyn Kirk / AFP
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Takumi Minamino of Japan has his penalty saved by Dominik Livakovic of Croatia during the penalty shootout in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Japan and Croatia at Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar – December 5, 2022. © John Sibley / Reuters

Capturing and preserving for all time all the atmosphere and drama from such an epic final, and tournament, was an epic photographic achievement in itself.

“We feel it’s important to recognise their hard work,” commented the FPA, “and showcase the very best images from the biggest single sport event in the world.”

FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Wojciech Szczesny of Poland dives for the ball but fails to stop the shot from Kylian Mbappe of France from going into the net for their second goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between France and Poland at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on December 4, 2022. © Glyn Kirk / AFP
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
France striker Kylian Mbappe heads towards the substitute’s bench to take his place prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and France at Education City Stadium on November 30, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. © Stu Forster / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
A Lion tattoo is seen on the back of the head of Uruguay goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match between Uruguay and Korea Republic at Education City Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. © Stu Forster / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Achraf Hakimi of Morocco gets a kiss from his mother after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Simon Stacpoole / Offside
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring their team’s first goal with teammate Julian Alvarez during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Michael Zemanek / Shutterstock
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Richarlison of Brazil scores his side’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group G match between Brazil and Serbia at Lusail Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Alex Livesey / Danehouse
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Phil Foden of England celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-2 during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and England at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Robbie Jay Barratt / AMA
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Marcus Rashford of England celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and England at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Mike Egerton / Press Association
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Gaku Shibasaki of Japan puts on his shin pads which feature a Anime Samurai image before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Matthew Ashton / AMA
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Referee Michael Oliver of England shows a yellow card as the sunlight illuminates it during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Kieran McManus / Shutterstock
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Denzel Dumfries of Netherlands celebrates scoring their third goal with Teun Koopmeiners during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and United States at Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar – December 3, 2022. © John Sibley / Reuters
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Sergey Milinkovic-Savic of Serbia celebrates his goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group G match between Cameroon and Serbia at Al Janoub Stadium on November 28, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. © Ben Radford / Visionhaus)
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Harry Maguire of England with his daughter after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and United States at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar on November 25, 2022. © John Sibley / Reuters
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Yeltsin Tejeda of Costa Rica and Niklas Suele of Germany battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Group E match at the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar. Picture date: Thursday December 1, 2022. © Adam Davy / Press Association
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Son Heung-Min of Korea Republic during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match between Uruguay and Korea Republic at Education City Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. © Dave Shopland / Shutterstock
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
A fan enjoys the pre match atmosphere prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Spain and Costa Rica at Al Thumama Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Clive Mason / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Germany players cover their mouths as they pose for a team photo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Ben Radford / Visionhaus
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Two young mascot children walk in front of the France team group as the photographers take pictures during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between France and Australia at Al Janoub Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. © Stu Forster / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Saleh Al-Shehri of Saudi Arabia celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-1 during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © James Williamson / AMA
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Salem Al-Dawsari of Saudi Arabia celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-2 during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. © Marc Aspland / The Times
Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s first goal via a penalty past Matt Turner of United States during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Clive Mason / Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
An Iran supporter wears blood make up in protest of Masha Amini’s death in Iran during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Jay Barratt / AMA
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Joe Rodon of Wales battles for the ball the ball against Sardar Azmoun of IR Iran during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Michael Regan / FIFA via Getty Images
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
Wayne Hennessey of Wales collides with Mehdi Taremi of Iran resulting in him being shown a red card during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al-Rayyan on 25 November, 2022. © Mike Egerton / Press Association
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
A local artist is seen with portraits of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona at Souq Waqif during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at on December 08, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. © Alex Livesey / Danehouse
FPA World Cup Qatar Gallery
A guide in an Argentina Lionel Messi shirt stands with his camels during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on 7 December 2022 in Doha. © Charlotte Wilson / Offside

You can check out the FPA’s gallery online here.

If you enjoyed that, you may also like Shot of the Century, the FPA’s most iconic Premier League photographs.  

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