FIFA 2018: Tournament Review

fifa20The FIFA World Cup 2018 saw France emerging as the champion team. However, each of the 32 teams that made it to the most followed Sporting Tournament in the World had certain expectations from the much awaited tournament. While some teams did manage to meet their expectations, a few teams had a rather disappointing run in the run up to the World Cup.

On one hand the tournament saw legendary players like Messi and Ronaldo not being able to live their dream, it also witnessed on the other hand, young talents like Mbappe rise up to the occasion and win the coveted trophy while still in the infancy of his career. Such is the nature of professional sports, it is indeed, a great leveler.

France would be quiet a happy side, being able to lift the cup and especially with the kind of football they played throughout the tournament and although they saw many stars emerging in the course of the tournament including young Mbappe, none rose to the occasion like the hard working Raphaël Varane who would silently go about doing his job. It was his spot on skills and the accuracy with which he executed them which helped France quieten the opponent strikers no matter what their stature in International Football.

Croatia would be another side who would feel happy about their campaign this season. For a team like them, many, including players from the team itself thought that they raised above their weight in the tournament. However, the aggression with which they played in the semi-finals showed their desperation to make their nation proud and win it for the country. And perhaps is the biggest thing to play for. Players like Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic emerged as the country’s stars in the tournament.

After a quarter final finish in Brazil, four years ago, the expectations from Belgium were always on the rise. It was in this world cup that Belgium finally displayed a fearless brand of football and up until the close semi-final game, looked well in course of a famous win. However, a 3rd place finish isn’t a bad finish either, given that they scored the most number of goals in the tournament. Under Roberto Martínez, the team has finally started playing as a single unit and that clearly was shown on the football pitch. Belgium look well in course of a great Euro 2020.

A similar story is repeated by English players. England played much better than expected. It was probably the first time in a long time that watching England football team in a major tournament was enjoyable. Perhaps they were a bit lucky with the draw in which they played but that should not take anything away from the way England played in the tournament.  Kieran Trippier, Jordan Pickford, John Stones and Harry Maguire are all set to be in the starting XI for England, given their performance in the tournament.

Brazil, famous for its football culture, would be more frustrated than disappointed. A heart breaking defeat against Belgium in the Quarter finals meant that their World Cup dream was over yet again. But that only describes part of why Brazil fans are frustrated. A big reason is their star player Neymar’s demeanor on the football pitch which is being generalized as the behavior of a common Brazilian. That is far from true. A decent Brazil campaign wasn’t supposed to end like this but then that is what sports is all about.

Ronaldo and Messi, two of football’s legends, both knocked out of the tournament on the same day. While Portugal had never looked like a World Cup winning side on paper, Argentina had the resources to go all the way. Personally, Ronaldo had a much better tournament than Messi, but does that even matter when one has reached that level of success. The World Cup then remains perhaps the only big thing not conquered by these legends.