The FIFA World Cup has concluded after 32 days of mesmerizing and exceptional moments. France, led by Didier Deschamps, the third man to have both played for, and coached, his country to a World Cup title, was crowned champion after his team beat Croatia 4-2 in the final in Moscow. The tournament featured 169 goals scored, and it came within two of tying for the highest scoring World Cup ever!
Russia 2018 had its own share of shocks, with early exits for greats such as Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but it also featured plenty of surprises, with England and Belgium reaching the semi- finals, along Croatia finishing second. This only goes to state that football is the game of the world and cannot be judged by previous glories of football dominating nations.
Looking into the individual awards, nobody would have guested this line up:
GOLDEN BALL | Luka Modric
The petite midfielder earned his spot as the best player of the tournament, serving as the heart and soul of the team’s dream run to the final. He finished the World Cup with two goals and one assist, but those stats hardly tell the entire story. He did everything on the center of the pitch during their run to the final, from going all the back to support defensive line, to carrying the ball forward to provide those key passes and assists.
FIFA YOUNG | Kylian Mbappe
All eyes were on the 19-year-old after his stunning season with PSG, ending the tournament on a high with 4 goals (1 in the finals and 3 in the knockout stage). He became the first teen to score twice in the same World Cup game since Pele in 1958 when he hit a double in the win over Argentina.
GOLDEN BOOT | Harry Kane
With 6 goals (of which 3 came from penalty kicks) Harry Kane picks up the Golden Boot, who wasn’t the best striker in this tournament. Griezmann, Lukaku, Ronalda and Mbappe where top contenders to go past that number but failed to unseat King Kane at the helm.
GOLDEN GLOVE | Thibaut Courtois
Courtois conceded just six goals in seven games while Belgium took third place, in its best finish in the World Cup. His performances between the wood work were indeed noteworthy and the award is surely deserving.
And, finally, here are 12 World Cup 2018 Fun Facts:
- The 2018 World Cup has had more penalties given (22) as compared to any other World Cup in the past. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) played a major factor in those decisions.
- This edition of the World Cup had 9 winning goals scored within the 90 minute playing time, which is more than any other in the past.
- Power houses Brazil and Germany did not make it to the semi-finals for the first time since 1930.
- Neymar was the most fouled player of the 2018 World Cup.
- Spain had a record number of 3,087 passes this World Cup. Although losing to Russia on penalties, they completed more than 1,000 passes during that game.
- Belgium, who knocked out five-time winners Brazil, have netted the ball 14 times, more than anybody else at the tournament. They also became the first team to come from 2+ goals down to win a World Cup knockout round match within 90 minutes.
- Across the four semi-finalist teams, 44% of the players play their club football in the Premier League, with Tottenham Hotspur being the best-represented club, with 9 players.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is just the fourth player to score in four different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) after Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose. Ronaldo became the first European player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships).
- The Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary (45y 161d) broke the record for the oldest player to appear at a World Cup.
- 23 coaches took charge of their first World Cup games at the 2018 tournament, with Croatia’s Zlatko Dalic registering the highest finish among this group.
- Mexico have now been eliminated in each of their last eight World Cup knockout matches – the longest ever streak of consecutive knockout eliminations in the competition (QF 1986 + last 16 1994 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 & 2018).
- This was the highest-scoring World Cup final since 1966.
Allez Les Bleus. Le fin.