By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- In the end it was Didier Deschamps
in the rain, looking up at the stands after his side beat
Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final, water dripping down his face
and golden ticker tape in his hair and on his jacket...
Two years ago, he’d
been the loser after Portugal defeated France 1-0 in the
European Championships and now the French had redemption and the
World at their feet.
Although the events
at a World Cup are universal, everyone who travels to watch or
work at the tournament has their own personal experiences,
moments which were special to them.
Now that the curtain
has finally drawn on Russia 2018 and France were crowned as
champions in a rainy Moscow, it’s time to look back at some of
the best and worst moments which will stick in my mind from the
games I covered from stadiums over the past five weeks.
To be honest
Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia won’t stay long in my
memory, mainly for the fact that as soon as Luis Suarez opened
the scoring the winner was never in doubt. However, the Saudi’s
recovered well to claim some Group A pride with a late winner to
defeat Egypt 2-1 in a baking Volgograd, where the disappointment
was to see that Mohamed Salah was clearly lacking match fitness.
Japan and Poland’s
footballing truce with Poland 1-0 up but with Japan assured of a
place in the last 16 with 10 minutes remaining, was perhaps a
personal low point, especially as the Japanese showed in every
other game they played, that they are an exciting and aggressive
team to watch.
Even the Japan coach
admitted in his press conference that he hadn’t been happy with
what he had done. Neither was anyone else in the Volgograd Arena
with a chorus of boos and whistles.
So onto the good
stuff and Spain’s 3-3 draw with Portugal in Sochi was a great
way to start out with a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in a game
that gave no hint that neither team would make it past the last
16. In fact Spain’s performance implied they had not been too
badly affected by the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui just 48
hours before kick-off. How wrong we were...
Brazil’s 1-1 draw
against Switzerland in Rostov-On-Don did, however, show that for
all their attacking talent Neymar and company would have
problems with their link-up between midfield and attack,
although the Swiss also showed they deserve to be taken far more
seriously as a football nation. One memory in the lead up to
that game was ‘sambaing’ Brazilians on the flight from Moscow;
not great for a nervous flier if the truth be told.
Brazil looked to be
back on track when they beat Mexico 2-0 in the last 16;
frustrating for the Mexicans, who have reached the same stage in
5 World Cups and never got past it. After the first 20 minutes
in Samara it looked pretty obvious that history was going to
The big talking
point of that game was the accusations of ‘play-acting’ against
Neymar, who needed 4 minutes treatment after Mexico defender
Miguel Layun trod on his ankle. There was contact (impossible to
see from the stands) ... but how much there actually was
remains a moot point, although ‘Twitter’ very quickly made up
its mind about the striker who is still rolling as I write.
England’s campaign from a distance, it was nice to still be in
Samara to see them progress to the last four with a comfortable
2-0 win against Sweden. Harry Maguire rose like a Sputnik to
head home the opening goal and confirm him (in my eyes at least)
as one of the players of the tournament.
performance against Belgium was criticized for being over
defensive by some of the Belgian players after their 1-0 defeat.
I thought it was a fascinating game in the splendour of St
Petersburg; two tactically intelligent sides testing each other
to the limits and separated by the narrowest of margins, with
the best team on the night winning.
And that set up the
final act of the tournament: Kylian Mbappe tearing down the
wing: Antoine Griezmann and French celebrations 24 hours after
Bastille Day and Deschamps looking skywards as the fireworks
went off and the rain came down.
It’s been a month
and a day... time to go home, until the next time in Qatar 2022,
which will have moments of its own.
Kane wins Golden Boot, Modric,
Golden Ball and
Courtois Golden Gloves in 2018 World Cup
MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) --
The 2018 World Cup saw France crowned as
Champions for the second time in their history 20 years after
coach Didier Deschamps was one of the players who lifted the
trophy for the first time on home soil in 1998, but apart from
the big prize, there were other important awards decided on
Man of the Match, Antoine Griezmann scored a penalty in his
side’s 4-2 victory over Croatia, it was only his fourth goal of
the tournament, meaning that England’s Harry Kane was the winner
of the Golden Boot for the World Cup’s top scorer.
Kane ended with 6
goals; two more than Griezmann, who was joined on 4 by Romelu
Lukaku of Belgium and Russia’s Denis Cheryshev.
striker Kylian Mbappe was the winner of the Young Player Award,
while Croatia’s Luka Modric may have lost the final, but was
named as the winner of the Golden Ball as the best player of the
Tournament and both received a well-deserved ovation from the
78,000 people in the stadium.
Thibaut Courtois, who made 27 saves - some of them outstanding -
as Belgium finished in a historic third place was named as the
winner of the Golden Glove as the best keeper after conceding
just five goals in seven matches.