There’s no doubt that the 2018 FIFA World Cup has been one of the best and most memorable in the tournament’s history. Here are five reasons why this World Cup will be remembered for years to come.
1. Goals galore
As the goals came flooding in, there was no shortage of entertainment during this World Cup. From the very first match where Russia thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0 to the last where France beat Croatia 4-2 to become World Champions for the second time, the goals just kept on coming.
In the whole tournament, only one match (France v Denmark in the group stages) ended 0-0. This was the fewest at any World Cup tournament since 1954, when there were none.
2. Breakout stars
The World Cup stage is the biggest of all. If players want to make a name for themselves, that’s the place to do it. When James Rodriguez starred for Colombia in 2014 and won the Golden Boot after scoring six goals, he was signed by Real Madrid.
Kylian Mbappe was undoubtedly the best young player at the tournament and has been spoken about by many as the one to take over from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. After Pele, Mbappe became the second youngest player to score in a World Cup final. Fortunately for PSG, he has vowed to remain in France after his World Cup triumph.
PSV Eindhoven will struggle to keep hold of Hirving Lozano after his superb showing for Mexico. He was a huge part of Mexico’s counter-attacking energetic football that stunned Germany and saw them come second in their group.
Yerry Mina, José Maria Giménez and Benjamin Pavard of Colombia, Uruguay and France were excellent in defence for their countries. Mina scored three goals, a record that a striker would be proud of. He was solid in defence alongside Davinson Sánchez, another promising young defender.
Giménez is fast becoming one of the best young defenders in the world and this is somewhat thanks to Diego Godín who partners Giménez for club and country. Pavard was relatively unknown before the tournament but he became invaluable to France and at the age of 22, he can call himself a World Cup winner. He is currently at Stuttgart but there’s no doubt that top clubs around Europe will be sniffing around after his tournament success.
3. England finally giving their fans something to cheer about
It was never really coming home but the fact that England dared to dream showed how far they have come. At the last World Cup, they went out at the group stages. This time they got to the semi-finals. There has been constant debate about England having an easy route but you can only beat what’s in front of you.
England fans have been incredibly supportive of the team and that is set to continue for years to come. Gareth Southgate has endeared himself and his team to the nation and they have gained valuable experience. For the first time ever, a whole generation of England fans saw their country win a penalty shootout at the World Cup. Special memories like that will live on forever.
4. Russia being great hosts
According to many media reports before the tournament, Russia was a dangerous country to host a World Cup tournament and most fans would be sensible to stay away. It turned out to be the complete opposite. The Russian people went out of their way to prove themselves to be a welcoming, friendly country who embraced the festival of football.
The host nation were in the tournament for longer than expected which made the atmosphere even better. Few people thought Russia would make it out of the group, never mind make it to the quarter-finals after knocking Spain out. It is very clear that this World Cup, hosted in Russia, was a huge success.
5. Big teams going out early
Some of the favourites were very underwhelming at this tournament, but none more so than Germany. The holders went out with a whimper at the group stage. Four of the past five winners have been knocked out of the World Cup at the first hurdle. France in 2002, Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and now Germany in 2018. Maybe France can finally break the curse in four years time at Qatar 2022!
The other surprise early departure was Spain. The 2010 World Cup winners went out in the round of 16 to hosts Russia after losing 4-3 on penalties. While some of the favourites made a speedy departure, the different teams in the latter stages were a welcome addition.
Featured Image Credit: FIFA.com