2018 FIFA WORLD CUP REVIEW
Despite the many controversies around Russia as the host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it has to be said this has been one of the most successful World Cups in decades. The tournament has provided non-stop entertainment, shock, joy and inspiration to audiences around the world. Across 64 enticing games, we have witnessed 169 goals, which almost touches the record of goals scored at a World cup of 171, in 1998 and 2014. While many nations followed their teams throughout the games some were unexpectedly unable to do this, such as Italy and The Netherlands, however having been in The Netherlands during part of the World Cup myself, I can say for sure that the excitement and football spirit still lived in the fans of those who did not qualify. This World Cup has also reminded the English that dreams of a second World Cup win are far from over and with a new manager and new young, thirsty players we can aspire for better football outcomes and less upsetting rides home after painful defeats.
Russia opened the tournament with a bang by beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 which gave all viewers a taste of what was to come in this World Cup. Despite Russia’s lack of a successful past in the World Cup, it’s fair to say that this year the likes of Cheryshev and Dzyuba were a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. Russia surprised many in this tournament with their success as well as other teams such as Sweden, and Croatia who reached the final for the first time ever. Germany also finished last in their group which shocked many, including me and my mates who were forced to waste buckets of data on our phones just to watch the historic moment in action in a park.
This year’s World Cup, as an England fan, was the most exciting and hopeful one in my lifetime. Each and every game provided hope for the English fans, including the thrilling 6-1 win against Panama and even the 1-0 defeat to Belgium, in the group stages, which me, my friends and many other drunken football hooligans were able to pass off as a ‘tactical loss’ and continue to bellow out England chants late into the night. England reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1990, with striker Harry Kane winning the golden boot after scoring 6 pivotal goals across England’s 7 games in the tournament. Despite the low morale after the crushing defeat to Croatia in the semis, I had to feel proud of England for coming so far with such a young team. Gareth Southgate did very well as the new manager and I would hope to see him continue in his role in future international tournaments.
On the whole, this World Cup has not been without its action, drama or controversies. 9 winning goals were scored in the 90th minute or later with 4 being the previous record in a World Cup. The introduction of VAR caused many controversial referee decisions, which also added to the awarding of a record-breaking 29 penalties in the tournament, one being in the final itself. France has to be congratulated for their outstanding performance throughout the games in Russia and I think it’s safe to say they thoroughly deserved their second World Cup win, despite the disappointment that England failed to make it theirs. Kylian Mbappe shone in the games and has been described as ‘the next Ronaldo or Messi’ at the age of only 19.
This non-stop football excitement was pleasantly accompanied by consistent sunny weather and I can say for sure it has kicked off the holidays perfectly for me and my friends, after a long and demoralising line of exams.