Football fans around the world waited four years for an epic tournament in Russia and that’s exactly what they got – we all laid witness to 31 days of excitement, drama, and heartbreak. The real shock happened when holding champions Germany bowed out of the tournament in the group stage, like Korean’s ingenuity and patience were too much for the overconfident “Mannschaft”. Need help remembering which team came on top leading up to the Final Match? Scroll down for the complete coverage of every match’s final score.
The best players in the world, Messi and Ronaldo had to pack their bags after their nations lost in the last 16 phase. Once again it was proved that football is a team sport and no individual, no matter how good, can win alone. Former Euro and World champions Spain followed them out the door with what seemed an impossible penalty loss against host nation Russia. Surely no one ever imagined that the quarterfinal pairs would read: France vs. Uruguay; Belgium vs. Brazil; Croatia vs. Russia; England vs. Colombia.
2018 World Cup Review: Unexpected Semi-Final Fixtures
What followed hit the whole world like an earthquake. Croatia won another penalty shootout to reach the semi-finals exactly 20 years after their last historic World Cup appearance. Honestly, they should have wrapped things up in 90 minutes but “Sbornaya” played for every Russian in the world. Belgium defeated favourites Brazil and sent Neymar and his childish behaviour home. “Les Bleus” cruised easily against a crippled Uruguay who played without star striker Cavani and “The Three Lions” were relevant again. The first semi-final was decided by one goal and it was in Belgium’s net. It took 90 minutes and 12 years but France was back in the final once again.
The second semi-final was way more thrilling. Croatia seemed lost in the first half and they trailed by one goal. However, a different team ran on the course in the second half. Not only did they manage to equalize but they took the game to overtime just like in the quarterfinals and the last 16 phase. It seemed like another penalty shootout is going to happen but ultimate warrior Mario Mandzukic scored and crushed England’s dreams of reaching the final.
2018 World Cup Review: History was made
It was at that moment everyone knew that real history was about to take place. Exactly 20 years ago these nations met on the field but it was in the semi-final. Croatia’s golden generation led by Davor Suker scored first in the second half of that game. That wasn’t enough though because in just 25 minutes Lilian Thuram scored a brace and destroyed the dreams of several millions of Croatians all around the world. “Les Blues” won in that final and took home their first World Cup trophy.
Now, 20 years later it’s the same fixture but this time it’s the final. Both coaches (Didier Deschamps and Slaven Bilic) featured in that semi-final back in 1998. Deschamps was the captain of that squad and ended up with a trophy while Slaven had to be content with the 3rd place on the tournament. The Vatreni” had a chance of redemption while France was not going to let this trophy slip away like they did at Euro 2016.
2018 World Cup Review: The Final Showdown
The day arrived and the players ran on the course in front of more than 78 000 attendants and millions of fans in front of the TV screens. The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow looked spectacular which is exactly the word that explains how the final game went. Croatia had more of the ball, created more chances and ran more; however, it was all in vain because France played an almost perfect game.
Mandzukic went from hero to zero after he scored an own goal and gave France the lead. Perisic equalized with a fantastic goal but later committed a silly penalty and France was ahead once again. In the second half, the Croatians attacked with all their might but they couldn’t find a way past the defence and Hugo Lloris in front of goal. This led to mistakes, mistakes on which France capitalized and within minutes the score went from 2-1 to 4-1. Consolation only came for Mandzukic who scored from an awful mistake by Hugo Lloris to set the final score of 4-2.
2018 World Cup Review Summary
In the end, the underdogs failed in their last chapter but they definitely won our hearts. The whole Croatian nation can be proud of their warriors as they managed their country’s biggest success when it comes to football. France, on the other hand, showed that they will be a real force in the coming years and that this World Cup trophy is just the first of many. History was surely made as the game finished with the same result as the first World Cup back in 1930.
For us fans, this will have to be enough as we wait for the next huge tournament. Until then, we can remember Russia and that magical night in Moscow.
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