The World Cup has always been an event which amalgamates different cultures to one place in a celebratory fashion. While there is obviously heartbreak and tears, there is also a sheer joy and passion that the game oozes.
The fact that this tournament comes every four years means that all the hype and expectations are slowly and steadily accumulated and then showcased on the grandest stage of them all.
So here we are in Russia for a tournament that has been behaving crazily even before it began. Four-time world champions Italy couldn’t qualify for the tournament and three-time finalists, the Netherlands, also faced a similar fate like the Italians.
Once the World Cup began, we were greeted with more shocks as some not-so-big teams have made giants taste sand. Overall, this is one of the craziest World Cups the world has ever seen.
Sometimes, it feels like this World Cup is the football version of what happens when you let out millions of small kids without anyone watching over them. In such a case, the world turns upside down and chaos ensues and transcends to anarchy.
Don’t believe this? Okay, here are five matches that prove that this World Cup is one crazy son of a gun…
#1 Belgium 3-2 Japan
And finally, the best game of the World Cup 2018 so far. Everyone expected Belgium to run over the Japanese stars. After all, the Red Devils are one of the favourites to win the trophy with the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne leading them.
However, when the Asian outfit scored two back-to-back goals in the second half, it seemed as though this World Cup had completely gone bonkers – but there was still much more to come.
Roberto Martinez decided to take the aerial route and subbed in Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli.
Jan Vertonghen scored from an unbelievable header to pull one back for the Belgians. Fellaini then equalized with another headed goal after Eden Hazard floated in a delicious cross.
The Samurai spirit of the Japanese meant that they committed too many men forward during a 94th-minute corner. But Thibaut Courtois held the ball and threw it straight to Kevin De Bruyne.
And he ran and ran. Eight seconds, two passes and a dummy later, Nacer Chadli only had to tap the ball into the net – and he did just that, taking the Belgians to the similar as the Japanese were left broken-hearted on the pitch.
What a crazy, crazy World Cup!
#2 South Korea 2-0 Germany
The fact that the reigning champions have been a part of two crazy games just goes on to show how chaotic this World Cup has been. The Germans are always known for being hard-working and never for a moment do they take anything for granted and be complacent as a result.
However, their luck just didn’t favour them as the Germans missed a host of easy chances against South Korea, whose goalkeeper, Hyun-woo Cho, was simply unbeatable in this game.
After a barrage of 90 minutes by Germany, South Korea somehow managed to squeeze in a goal in the 91st minute. After that, Germany threw everyone – I mean, EVERYONE, even Manuel Neuer – forward and that is when they conceded their second goal of the match as Heung-Min Son had an open goal to aim at after being provided with a long-ball on the counter.
This match eliminated the Germans from the World Cup from the group stages itself, – something that hasn’t happened since 1938.
#3 Russia 1-1 Spain (4-3 shootout win for Russia)
Nobody – I repeat: nobody – expected Russia to beat Spain in the round of 16. Despite the fact that Spain have never beaten the hosts of a World Cup or Euro in that very tournament, Spain were expected to run over the Russians.
From the very beginning, Russia’s plans were clear: to take the game to the penalty shootouts. When Spain scored from an own goal, Russia’s plans took a hit but they somehow got lucky and made a comeback – thanks to a moment of foolishness from Gerard Pique.
Spain tried a lot to get back into the game but made way too many unnecessary back and side passes. In the 30 minutes of extra time, they did manage to get a few chances but failed to convert them.
Russia got what they had hoped for as the penalty shoot-outs ensued and Akinfeev managed to take the hosts to the quarter-final by saving two shots in the shootout while De Gea – supposedly the best goalkeeper in the world for many – just made clueless dives to his right and let Russian takers score easily.
#4 Croatia 1-1 Denmark (3-2 shootout win for Croatia)
If this match happened in any of the last two World Cups, it would perhaps have ranked higher on this list. However, such has been the absurd randomness of this World Cup that a match of such improbability is just one of the many that happened at this World Cup.
Croatia were supposed to win this game with ease due to the fact that the Croat have arguably the best midfield in the tournament. And yet, they suffered. Within the first four minutes of the game, both teams had scored to make it 1-1.
After that, the no more goals were scored during normal time. Extra time ensued and Luka Modric had a chance to win it for his team in the 116th minute when Croatia were awarded a penalty due to a foul from Mathias Jorgensen.
But guess what? This World Cup just doesn’t let things happen normally. Modric’s penalty was superbly saved by Kasper Schmeichel. At that time, Denmark were on top morale-wise.
In the shootout, however, Subasic outdid Schmeichel as the Croat shot-stopper saved three shots while the Dane managed to block two shots. It was a match between the goalkeepers and in the end, it was won by Subasic.
#5 Mexico 1-0 Germany
Germany came into this World Cup as the reigning champions and also with a great team. Unlike Spain in 2014, Germany actually also brought some younger players while also retaining the core that won the World Cup four years ago.
Granted, the exclusion of Leroy Sane was a bit shocking but apart from that, Jogi Low took a lot younger legs with him – unlike Vicente Del Bosque, whose stubbornness meant that Isco not only missed out of the World Cup in 2014 but also the Euro in 2016.
As a result, Germany were automatically favourites to retain the title. They began their title defence against Mexico and were assured to win against them. However, fate had something else in store for them.
The Mexicans showed great resolution while the Germans just kept missing chances after chances, losing the game to a solitary goal from Hirving Lozano in the end.