Sports Bag: World Cup 2018 review

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Firstly may I compliment (again) FIFA and the Russian World Cup organizers for the best World Cup I have watched since 1966 (yes, being English I am biased).

I watched all the matches and the coverage was superb throughout the whole tournament. When Uruguay, my original outside tip, were knocked out I went for Croatia as I believed they have incredible players.

The semi-finals were a joy to watch and when France and Croatia got through to the final, my head said France but my heart said Croatia. My head won again as it did in the third/fourth place playoff, my head said Belgium but my heart was for England.

The final itself was fabulous and I applaud FIFA for their refereeing team selection. The Argentinian official was superb in his performance. The game had drama and comedy (Hugo Lloris’ faux pas) and although Croatia dominated possession (61%) as opposed to France (39%), France had more experience when it mattered. Mbappe’s goal was great and he became only the second player, after Pele, to score as a teenager in a World Cup final.

The penalty award via VAR Technology was a hundred per cent correct and although the referee took what seemed to be an age in reaching the decision, he got it right. Perisic did handle the ball and in fact played it forward with his hand. I am not a fan of VAR but in this instance it was proven to be correct. Whether this technology will now be introduced in the Euro Championships and European leagues remains to be seen.

FIFA’s award to Modric of the Golden Ball was a good decision, he was magnificent in all his games and when you consider Croatia actually played one more game than any other team during the whole tournament it says how fit the Croatian team were. They played three matches which went to extra time (thirty minutes extra each time).

My player of the tournament, however, may surprise a lot of my English friends. It was Pavard (No. 2) of France. I had never even heard of him or most of the French side, but being a young player he has a fantastic future ahead of him. I enjoyed his performances every game.

Well done Harry Kane for the Golden Boot and again for everyone involved in a great World Cup. Roll on 2022 in Qatar but when this tournament is to be played is, I believe, still undecided as it gets really hot there during the Summer months. Hopefully I will still be around to see it.

Rod the Ref