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FIFA World Cup 2018: From Mbappe’s Exploits to Russian Hospitality – Five Takeaways From World Cup

After 64 matches and 169 goals, the FIFA World Cup 2018 came to a fitting end on Sunday with France lifting the trophy for the second time in history. Their 4-2 victory over Croatia produced one of the most entertaining finals in recent memory and brought the curtains down on a truly memorable tournament.

News18 Sports

Updated:July 16, 2018, 4:21 PM IST
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FIFA World Cup 2018: From Mbappe’s Exploits to Russian Hospitality – Five Takeaways From World Cup
(Reuters)
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After 64 matches and 169 goals, the FIFA World Cup 2018 came to a fitting end on Sunday with France lifting the trophy for the second time in history. Their 4-2 victory over Croatia produced one of the most entertaining finals in recent memory and brought the curtains down on a truly memorable tournament.

Here are five takeaways from Russia 2018:

Like it or not, VAR is here to stay

Getty Images Getty Images

It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system that made its World Cup debut was the key on a lot of occasions in helping the correct decision prevail on the pitch. Iran, for example, was correctly awarded a penalty in the group stages against Portugal, while Spain earned a late draw against Morocco when Iago Aspas’ goal was allowed to stand in the same group. Sure, decisions will be subjective from time to time (the penalty that France was awarded in the final was controversial) but as the system evolves, VAR will do more good to football than harm.

The old guard gives way to the new


(FIFA) (FIFA)

While we saw some typical moments of brilliance from both Messi and Ronaldo, the tournament will not be remembered for their exploits. Instead, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe of France greatly enhanced his already burgeoning reputation as the next big global superstar. He became only the second teenager to ever score in a World Cup final with his fourth strike of the tournament, after none other than Pele who scored twice in the 1958 final against Sweden. Mbappe was central to everything good that France did in attack and we can expect to see a lot more of this kid in the years to come.

England finally has something to cheer about


(Image: AP/PTI) (AP/PTI)

Not everyone gets English humour. The self-deprecating chants of ‘It’s coming home’ by English fans were largely misconstrued to be arrogance by the rest of the footballing world. However, with the team matching its fourth place finish of Italia 90 and going on a run no one expected them to, English fans briefly believed that ‘it’ would actually come home! Maybe the current crop of English players led by Harry Kane will actually go on to achieve the things that their previous ‘Golden Generation’ could not, if this World Cup was anything to go by.

The French and their organized ruthlessness


(FIFA) (FIFA)

With an attack that consists of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba, France inevitably scored goals at the top end of the pitch. Save for a goalless draw against Denmark, they were on target in every game of the World Cup. The abundance of such attacking riches meant that France could even afford to set up defensively against Uruguay and Belgium in the knockout stages, ensuring that merely keeping a clean sheet was enough to see them victorious in the end. They were organized in defence and ruthless in attack, which was the key to them eventually going on to win the World Cup.

Russia bust myths


Reuters Reuters

Perhaps the most encouraging thing to come out of this World Cup was how well it was conducted by the host nation Russia. Before the tournament, there were fears that the country would be an unwelcoming place for fans and journalists. Reports of armed and masked groups that would attack fans were also doing the rounds. But if anything, the lasting memory of this World Cup for anyone who was involved with it was the warm and hospitable ways of the Russian people with all those fears put to rest just days into the tournament. With plenty of exciting matches, upsets, drama and a deserving winner, Russia 2018 will go down as one of the best hosted and most entertaining World Cups in history.
| Edited by: Madhav Agarwal
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