World Cup 2022 diary: Late-night bus tours, Christmas comes early and the lights go out on Germany

The sun doesn't stop shining during the day in Qatar, so it's easy to forget that Christmas is approaching.

Indeed, with four games a day for much of the last two weeks, it has been difficult to keep track of the date, but England's training camp had some help for any confused media members when the Christmas decorations went up on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the lights went out on Germany's World Cup campaign in more ways than one, and one Stats Perform writer enjoyed a late-night bus ride.

Here's the diary for day 13 in Doha.


Deck the halls...

Some people like to leave it late to get their Christmas decorations up, but others favour going early. It seems that those at England's camp fall into the latter category.

Of course, normally at a World Cup there are is no such option to get Christmas decorations up, but this being a winter tournament (for those in the northern hemisphere) means everything is a little different, as Stats Perform's reporter attending England's training facility found out on Thursday, when the calendar hit December 1.

England are getting into the Christmas spirit
England are getting into the Christmas spirit

Lights out

Germany slumped out in the group stages for a second World Cup running, despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 at Al Bayt Stadium.

Substitutes Kai Havertz and Niclas Fullkrug both scored, and perhaps they had their eye in because they had to practice in the dark at half-time.

The lights went out at Al Bayt as part of the half-time entertainment, but it left the players warming up on the pitch in darkness. Indeed, one Germany substitute (it was difficult to tell who from high up in the media tribune) seemed to ask for the lights to be turned back on, and the show was swiftly cut short.

Magical mystery tour

Doha's public transport is something to behold. Free for journalists and fans, the metro, trams and media shuttles all run (mainly) on time, clean, new and comfortable. And they run almost around the clock.

For journalists covering the World Cup this is a guarantee. The metro connects to practically every point of interest in Doha and there are buses from the media centre to all the stadiums with fabulous frequency.

There are also free shuttles to the tourist villages from the media centre, a place to which one inevitably returns after every match. With some games finishing at midnight, or later in the knockout phase, having a free alternative to Uber or taxi is essential.

After the match between Germany and Costa Rica at Al Bayt Stadium, however, one Stats Perform writer was curious about the other methods available, so instead of booking a taxi, elected to catch a bus.

The trip was not fast, but it was entertaining, with Stats Perform's man on the ground (in the bus) befriended by a Kenyan-born named Lawrence, who played Bob Marley between stints of football chat, with an impenetrable fog having descended on Doha.

It ended up being a tour through the streets of the city's non-commercial areas and, the best part, it dropped the reporter off right outside his apartment. Who needs an Uber?

Hats off

The 2022 World Cup has provided its usual mix of colour, diversity and energy.

Take a walk around a stadium on matchday and you will see fans from all corners of the world, mixing happily, speaking different languages and showing off their cultures.

You will also see a wide array of clothing, a lot of it traditional, including some wonderful hats.

The Mexicans brought the sombrero, the Welsh the bucket hat and the Moroccans the fez.

Named after the city, the fez was on full display ahead of Morocco’s game against Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium.

Ronaldo > K-pop?

A fairly regular feature of football fan culture these days is the homemade sign either begging for a player's shirt or featuring some nonsensical slogan.

Both were present at South Korea v Portugal, though the latter was particularly prominent.

Among the more memorable ones was one sign featuring Ronaldo's face that said: "You got K-pop but we got the G.O.A.T.!"

We didn't realise there was a competition between the two sets of fans regarding the two, but there we go.

Portugal fan sign
Portugal fan sign