Following the sensational victory of Saudi Arabia on the 22nd of November during the World Cup, the popularity of the Saudi Arabia national football team increased dramatically. Analytics from Smelter discovered that compared to the pre-victory period, the coverage of the Saudi Arabia team rose by 87% after the game. The news provoked a massive reaction from the world football community, praising new heroes of the day and enhancing engagement in the largest football tournament.
During the group stage at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the Saudi Arabia national football team executed an upset in the match with Argentina, winning with a score of 2:1. The news undoubtedly had a positive response in the region, glorifying a well-deserved victory, and seen as an achievement for the Arab world. To showcase numbers, Smelter’s analytics looked at the game’s key players, coaches, and national football teams, comparing media presence, mentions, and engagements before and after the match. The counting criteria also included numbers from different media channels, social networks (Twitter, YouTube), and tone of reactions (positive, negative, neutral). The analysis was carried out in the English language. According to the Smelter tag cloud, the overall response of the public was profoundly positive, and when writing about it, the media called the victory “stunning”, “triumphal”, “shocking”, “unexpected”, “euphoric,” and “inspiring”.
Two second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari turned the game on its head, making them new football stars that day. According to Smelter, both players have been passionately discussed and praised on social networks for the past three days, receiving reactions worldwide. YouTube became the most dynamic platform for this discussion, engaging Saleh Al-Shehri 50974 times and Salem Al Dawsari 59876 times.
Another important figure in that victory became football coach Hervé Renard. He was appointed Saudi Arabia coach in 2019. Since the end of October 2022, Renard’s popularity has been growing rapidly, reaching its current peak after the game with Argentina. Since the 22nd of November, Hervé Renard has been mentioned 5095 times, of which 1631 on Twitter. 90% of all mentions were positive rather than negative.
During the match, Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored an early penalty to put his side in the lead. Messi has been unbeaten for years and is among the favourites to win the 2022 tournament. Qatar 2022 might be Messi’s last World Cup, as he will turn 39 in four years. It might also be the final World Cup for Christiano Ronaldo, and the biggest rivalry in this championship is predicted to be between Argentina and Portugal. The latest defeat of the Argentina team in the group stage has not shaken Messi’s influence. As Smelter shows, on the 22nd of November, Messi was mentioned 352 154 times – one of the highest numbers among football players around the world. Most comments were mostly neutral.