Russia 2018: dust settles on a unique World Cup
So France have won the World Cup, rather surprisingly. Truth be told, the French barely made the top 4 favourites of many pundits. As faith would have it, they’ve beaten the odds and won their second title. In the end, you can hardly think of them as lucky winners; Didier Deschamps’s men deserved every bit the glory and he now joins the the legendary duo of Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer as the only men to have won the title as players and coaches. Congratulations, Les Bleus!
Another World Cup has come and gone. Like tournaments of yesteryear, it has thrown up the inevitable collective – passion, anxiety, shock, controversy, tension, disappointment, etc. In the action itself, we’ve seen beautiful football, fantastic goals, goalkeeping blunders, unbelievable misses, eye-catching skills, etc. Again, some youngsters hinted of what to expect later in their careers. By the law of nature, we’ll surely see some of them fulfill their potential and others will join the long queue of wasted talents.
What’ll be your enduring memory of this tournament? Whatever it’s, Russia 2018 was unique in every sense. Profoundly, it was the World Cup that served shock as a delicacy especially for neutrals. As has been the case lately, defending champions Germany left at the group stage and Argentina, Portugal and Spain followed at the round of 16 – a major clear out of paper favourites. This seems to make Brazil’s quarterfinal exit a pass mark but for Brazil, a final defeat is as bad as a first round exit. Overall, the big boys didn’t enjoy the ride, it was shaky on a bumpy road.
The fall of the giants gave birth to new heroes. Hosts Russia went on a heroic run to the quarterfinal where they lost a shootout to Croatia. Just like co-hosts South Korea in 2002, unfancied Russia won many hearts along the way and must be proud of their achievement. They didn’t only give us a sweet party, they kept it alive and made it more fun. Croatia shocked everybody by making it to the final with their president by their side. The famous ripping apart of Argentina should go down as their best performance in recent history. Belgium’s dream team also added to the beauty of the entire tourney with an amazing run. Their semifinal birth should spur them on in future editions.
We couldn’t have asked for more after 161 goals. It was a dish well served, even with the controversy of the Video Assistant Referee, VAR. Russia 2018 was for experiment and subsequent championships are expected to be better. Consequently, Europe monopolized it’s event at the tail end, dumping rivals South America out. As the lights dimmed on Russian skies, the torch began to brighten from the skyscrapers of Qatar. 2022 looks a lifetime from now but like a bolt out of the blue, the next World Cup will be upon us pretty shortly.
Yours in the beautiful game