It was 15th of July, it was Moscow, it was Croatia against France, it was Modric Vs Griezmann, and it was the ultimate game, the final of 2018 FIFA World Cup. France was the star studded team of the tournament, while Croatia did not contain the stars in their line-up like France but had a really strong team combination and chemistry in the whole tournament.
Every neutral fan was cheering for Croatia as they wanted a new football champion to emerge. France had already appeared in the final of the biggest event quite a few times while Croatia was making their final debut.
Big games demand experience so France stood as firm favourites before the match. But France could never have taken Croatia for granted as the same was pre-match situation in the England-Croatia semi-final and then everybody knew what happened with England.
It was the 18th minute and France had already looked the team most likely to score the first goal of the final. Antoinne Griezmann took a free kick but a touch from Croatian centre-forward took the ball flying into the nets. The whole of France enjoyed this goal from Mandzukic (who would have thought that Croatian centre-forward’s goal would be so joyously celebrated by a nation who was competing against them in the final?)
After 10 minutes of the first goal and when Croatia were desperate to find something to cheer, it was Perisic who provided them with a much needed breakthrough, a goal to level the things up, a goal to take the final back to where it began, it was an equalizer. It was a long ball inside the penalty area of France where Mandzukic and Pogba competed for the ball with the ball ended for the left-footed kick in front of Perisic, and the screaming kick from Perisic ended in the bottom left corner of the goal and it was 1-1.
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VAR to the rescue
The 34th minute brought the use of VAR again and further proving the advantage of this new technology. A corner was taken by France which clearly got a hand of Croatian defender. French players screamed for the hand ball but the referee thought it otherwise. Anyhow VAR came for the rescue of France and the clear evidence forced the referee to change his decision and award a penalty to France and soon France were back on the driver’s seat. Antoinne Griezmann’s cool finish was just what was needed for France to get their lead back. It was the third goal of the match inside 35 minutes.
A stamp of authority
First half ended on 2-1 and it was until the 60th minute that the next goal was scored. Mbappe brought the ball inside the penalty area and passed it to Griezmann who sent it to Pogba. Pogba’s shot was defended but not cleanly as the ball went back to Pogba and the second time it was a fierce shot toward the left corner of the goal and even the goal-keeper had no chance to move. It was a goal that further stamped the authority of France on the match and eventually the World Cup.
France wrecked havoc in the field and it was the teenage sensation this time that sealed the World Cup for France. Mbappe scored from outside the penalty area and it was the first ever teenage goal in the final of FIFA World Cup history since that famous goal from Pele.
A loss of control by the French goal keeper was enough for the Croatian striker to fire the ball in the nets for the second goal for Croatia but it was all too late. It might have offered some redemption, some respectability to the final score line but it wasn’t enough to fulfill the Croatian dreams. It was France who got the crown and for one time again were declared the World Champions. Croatia did not lose a match in this World Cup up till this point but they lost the most important match of the World Cup. But still it was a best ever performance by Croatia in their history albeit a heart-break final, but their performance would be remembered for ages.
Harry Kane scored 6 goals and was awarded the Golden Boot. He will be disappointed with England not making it to the final and then losing the third spot match as well but it was a great personal World Cup for him and a feat that he would remember forever. Antoine Griezmann was awarded Silver Boot for his 4 goals and 2 assists and Romelu Lukaku got Bronze Boot as he scored 4 goals in the tournament and assisted 1.
There was a good competition for the Golden Glove and it went to the goalkeeper that impressed the most. The Belgium International and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois had a brilliant tournament and some of his saves were ultra spectacular. Earning this feat means that this player has a bright future ahead.
Best Young Player
Without a doubt this award was given to Kylian Mbappe from France as nobody deserved more. He with his pace had been brilliant throughout the tournament and ripped apart even the best defences that came in his way. His performance in the tournament was a big reason of France’s success story. The record goal in the final of the World Cup would be remembered for ages.
Luka Modric got something to cheer but not what he really would have dreamed for. His team suffered a humbling in the final but his performance in the tournament was quite impressive that earned him the Golden Ball award. Eden Hazard was awarded the Silver Ball and Antoinne Griezmann got the Bronze Ball, as if he cared after his team won the ultimate prize.
FIFA Fair Play Award
Spain would not want to remember this World Cup as there was not much to remember but FIFA thought that they deserved at least some prize and it was the Fair Play Award that they got. All the awards were sponsored by Adidas.
So it ended, it had to but it left us with some amazing memories. It left some joys, some sorrows, some fulfilled dreams, some unfulfilled ones but most of all it gave new dimensions to football. VAR technology was used quite successfully in the tournament.
Now we wait for the next tournament. It is a long wait, but if the next tournament would even match if not better the quality of this tournament, it is worth waiting.