Good Cup, Bad Cup: World Cup 2018 Review
After 32 days, 64 days and 169 goals, World Cup 2018 finished with a flourish on Sunday as France overpowered Croatia 4-2 in Moscow to lift their second World Cup trophy.
But who had a good or bad World Cup? Here’s our final verdict…
A golden ball in his back pocket and the talisman in leading Croatia, a nation of only 4 million people, to an unprecedented World Cup final appearance.
With all the pre-tournament focus on Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo, it was also refreshing to see an unexpected name walk away with the prize, albeit a man whose class has never been in question.
The perfect hosts, particularly when it came to delivering spectacular stadium backdrops and a memorable experience for visiting fans.
Yes, any big tournament shows off a country at its best – just look at London 2012 – but the already controversial winter 2022 World Cup in Qatar will have a very tough act to follow.
Whilst BBC will always win the ratings battle, ITV must at least be congratulated for (briefly) lifting their England curse as Gareth Southgate’s side finally ended their penalty jinx against Colombia on the broadcaster.
Their lucky streak lasted little less than a week as Clive Tyldesley’s dulcet tones cast England out of yet another tournament, but ITV’s panel have at least been consistently entertaining with Roy Keane, Martin O’Neill, Ian Wright and Slaven Bilic adding an air of unpredictability to proceedings.
He’s already had a tube station named after him and caused a nationwide run on waistcoats… is there anything the man can’t do? Few expected the mild-mannered, low key Southgate to become one of the stars of World Cup 2018, but his reputation has undoubtedly been boosted by his approach throughout this tournament, and his decision to blood young players vindicated.
Next, he has to battle against raised expectations – but few would expect the success of this tournament to go to his head.
The late nineties girl band enjoyed a new lease of life in 2018 as their No.1 hit record ‘Whole Again’ was plucked from obscurity and retooled as a tribute to the charms of Gareth Southgate.
However, much as we’ve enjoyed it as a one-off at this tournament, we really don’t want to hear it at Rochdale away next season…
Billed as one of the stars of the tournament, he ended it as its running joke. In the dangerous new world of VAR, Neymar is going to have to work hard to shave his well-founded reputation for trying to pull the wool over the referee’s eyes.
At his best he can be electric, but the Brazilian is still nowhere near deserving of top billing alongside his contemporaries Messi and Ronaldo.
Germany’s early exit was admittedly the biggest shock of the tournament, but with a promising crop of players for embattled coach Joachim Löw to turn to – including Leroy Sane – this will surely be a blip for Die Mannschaft.
Argentina, however, have massive problems as they contemplate life after Messi, with little signs of a promising generation coming through. Could they be the next Netherlands and be cast into the wilderness?
It’s not been a good summer if you really hate football. With the nation getting swept up in Three Lions fervour, a relatable England team, and pubs and big screens across the country packed to the rafters, football caught the zeitgeist in summer 2018 with plenty of new converts to the beautiful game.
And in a sign of just how the mood shifted during the tournament, even organisers from that last outpost of traditional English decorum, Wimbledon, allowed fans to follow the action on their smartphones…
FIFA’s 48 team suggestion
World Cup 2018 is already rightly winning plaudits as one of the best of all time – and that’s because a tight 32-team tournament works perfectly, keeping most games on a knife edge right up until the final whistle blows on the third group game.
Dead rubbers are the worst part of any World Cup – and 48 teams just adds quantity at the expense of quality. Sometimes less is more. Plus, we’ll need to get up off the sofa at some point…
A joke that stopped being funny in around 2010. Paul the Octopus has a lot to answer for. Please make it stop in 2022…