As the curtain closes on this edition of the World Cup, The French National team stand tall amidst all the chaos and excitement witnessed over the past month.
They delivered a telling, coming of age performance and banished the ghosts of the 2016 Euro Final, which saw them lose out to Portugal in overtime.
This particular edition was unpredictable, to say the least. It had several upsets that left people in disbelief, and new heightened drama with the introduction of VAR.
Over the course of the tournament, there have been several heated discussions over the use of VAR and it’s implementation.
One thing is for certain, the use of VAR has certainly levelled the field in terms of results, which has made every game more closely fought. The emotions displayed with every decision also made for a better viewing amongst fans.
Though France may seem like predictable winners of the most precious prize in World Football, this World Cup was anything but. If Germany being eliminated during the group stages was unexpected, then Russia sent the football community into a frenzy by defeating Spain in a penalty shootout during the round of 16.
The sheer magnitude of these results signalled to the world that the gap between the usual favourites and the so-called B teams has narrowed. The likes of Croatia and Mexico, not to forget Sweden can confidently challenge the top tier teams and stand a realistic chance of beating them.
A successful World cup requires exciting games to build the hype. Exciting games consist of an end to end football with plenty of chances being created and goals being scored. This edition not only delivered on both accounts but surpassed them in every way.
The very 1st game between Russia and Saudi Arabia signalled that good things were about to happen. Russia ran away comfortable winners by winning 5-0 and laid down a marker for other teams to replicate.
The tournament threw up several games like the blinder of Ronaldo (Portugal) vs Spain, where Ronaldo single-handedly took the fight to an ageing Spain defence by scoring a hat-trick in a performance that will be remembered for years to come. The group stages offered breakneck football with several memorable performances and helped set the stage for the knockout games.
France vs Argentina will be remembered as the Kylian Mbappe show, and rightfully so, as the talented teenager tore the Argentina defence to shreds and announced his arrival to the big stage. A game with goal scoring chances created almost every minute, will stay in the memories of players and fans alike, for a long time to come. The game pointed in the direction of what was to come next, and it certainly delivered.
Belgium too signalled their arrival as one of the powerhouses and showed the world that it was only a matter of when not IF these supremely talented players would be able to gel together.
Their come from behind win against Japan and their impressive victory against Brazil ushered them into a new era and teams will certainly want to avoid them come Euro 2020.
As I said earlier, France winning the World Cup may be predictable but it’s the manner of their victory, which will make this world cup eternal. Even the Final, which is usually a drab affair amongst teams too tentative, was entertaining beyond belief as both teams refused to play possession Football and tried to go for the kill instead.
This French team were not the most impressive, but their sheer ruthlessness accompanied by some luck, enabled them to be crowned Champions and paved the way for this young squad to dominate World Football for years to come. World Cup 2018 was a success in every department.
After the poor exhibition of Football in South Africa in 2010, followed by the terribly boring Final between Germany and Argentina, World cup 2018 was the tournament every fan needed, heck deserved.