Despite various misgivings about Russia hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the tournament was quite a success and will go down as one of the greatest World Cups ever. It was the first time that an East European country is hosting the World Cup.
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Almost every game delivered a memorable moment, from stunning goals to shocking own goals. The match between England and Belgium will go down as the most boring game of the tournament since both teams had nothing to play for after having already qualified for the knockout stage. The info at bettingsites.me.uk shows that Belgium scored a total of 16 goals during the cup, with England slightly behind them at 12.
The fans created an exciting atmosphere in the stadiums as they were cheering and betting on their teams and the hosts were quite hospitable to the delight of the visitors.
With all that said, let’s take a look at the things that predominantly stood out at this year’s World Cup in Russia.
Football fans witnessed for the first time the use of the Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) aimed to improve referees’ decision making. Regardless of the reservations about VAR spoiling the unpredictability of football and flow of the game with long delays or stops, some of the dramatic moments at this World Cup resulted from the use of VAR.
One example is the nerve-racking moment when Danish fans awaited the referee’s decision to see if Peru would be awarded a penalty after Christian Cueva was brought down in the penalty area. The referee overturned his previous decision by giving it, but Cueva unluckily blasted the ball over the bar into the stands.
Also, in the Iran vs. Spain game, Saeid Ezatolahi seemed to have equalized against Spain, and as the Iranians went into a frenzy, VAR found the goal to be offside thus putting a damper on the celebrations.
Argentina vs. Nigeria
Argentina made it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup by beating Ecuador 3-1 in a do or die match. It saved grace by beating Nigeria with Marcos Rojo’s near-end volley to reach the last 16, with rumors flying around that Lionel Messi and Mascherano selected their team.
Whether it was true or not, that was a much better selection compared to the previous ones done by coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Anyway, imagine if VAR was non-existent and Nigeria was awarded a second penalty due to Rojo’s assumed handball. We might have seen the world’s greatest footballer Messi leaving the World Cup earlier than expected.
Belgium vs. Japan
As fans were expecting, the Belgium-Japan game went into extra time after Belgium fought and pulled back two goals against Japan.
The impressive team effort saw Belgium clinch the win within 10 seconds of defending a corner when Kevin De Bruyne masterminded a lethal counter-attack that led to Romelu Lukaku bullying his way through the defense to dummy the ball over to Nacer Chadli who made no mistake by kicking it home and breaking Japan’s heart.
This was one hell of a comeback. Belgium might not have won the tournament, but it provided some of the most sensational football at this World Cup and it’s no wonder the team was the top-scoring one with 16 goals.
Shocks Of The Tournament
The biggest shocker of this World Cup was the early knock out of the 2014 World Cup winners - Germany. It was beaten 2-0 by South Korea and failed to make it to the round of 16. No one saw this coming.
Most people had predicted that Spain would bow out early because of the drama surrounding the team as it had its coach sacked just a day before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but not the mighty Germany.
In fact, this was the tournament that saw the early departure of almost all the football giants, apart from France that went on to actually win it. Spain and Brazil were also booted before the semi-finals.
The world’s greatest footballers, Messi and Ronaldo, got knocked out of the tournament on the same day, ending their dreams of probably ever winning a World Cup since they’ve come of age and might not play in Qatar in 2021.
This dashed the hopes of their fans who were rooting for them to at least win one World Cup before retiring. They both even left without scoring a goal in the knockout stage. Messi has actually never scored a goal at this level and will never do if retires before the next World Cup.
After 28 long years, England managed to reach the semi-finals with a less glorified team as compared to the previous ones and with coach Gareth Southgate who came in as just a stand-in coach after Roy Hodgson resigned. Even though “football failed to go back home,” the team and the players made a good account of themselves.
As for Luka Modrić’s Croatia, it surpassed all expectations when it reached the finals for the first time with Luka as captain. It would have made history by even going on to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup if not for facing determined and energized tournament favorites France.
The Spectacular Goals
When it looked like France was going to walk all over Argentina in the most remarkable game of the tournament, Angel Di Maria came up with a terrific long-range equalizer from 30 yards out to give Argentina some hope. What a cracker it was.
However, with the electrifying speed of Mbappé leading counter-attacks, France was too much for Argentina to contain. Benjamin Pavard’s stunner from 20 yards out just canceled out Di Maria’s in a spectacular style that defied physics to go into the far post, giving Franco Armani no chance at all of saving it.
It was both his first international goal and a vital goal for France that propelled the team to the 4-3 victory over Argentina. No wonder it won Hyundai’s best goal of the tournament.
And, finally, the 2018 FIFA World Cup came to a great end with the country with the youngest team - France - lifting the trophy. Not only did it win the World Cup, but it also made history by having Kylian Mbappé become the second teenager to score a goal at the World Cup final.
Also, France scored the most goals in a 2018 FIFA World Cup final making it a bit embarrassing for Croatia. Moreover, its win made Didier Deschamps the third man to lift the World Cup as a player and as a manager, along with Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer.